headerProperties images

Proper Tray Cooling & Handling Practices

The Importance of Tray Cooling

While it sounds like an easy task, and often overlooked, the cooling of sterilized items is one of the most common causes of contamination and residual moisture findings. Sterilized items should not be released for use until they have had the proper time to cool, in a dedicated area with minimum traffic and air flow. Each item should be inspected and verified by the reprocessing personnel before releasing back to the end user. By following these easy tips and tricks you can ensure your surgical sets are ready for deliverance and safe to use.


By following these best practices your team can ensure surgical sets are ready for use;

  • As sterilizer carts are removed from the sterilizer they should be parked in a designated “cooling” area which should be low traffic and low air flow
  • Temperatures in the cooling area should not be cool, and meet the requirements outlined in guidelines
  •  Packages should not be touched with bare hands at the time of cooling, vapor present might carry microorganisms and can contaminate the package
  •  Do not touch hot packages to avoid any wicking taking place
  •  Do not place hot or warm items on cold surfaces like a transport cart or cold procedure table
  •  Do not place hot or warm items in dust covers until cooled, to avoid the formation of condensation
  •  Handle all items as little as possible
  •  Use an infrared thermometer to verify temperatures of sets, aiming towards the middle of the set or heaviest portion
  •  Proper cooling temperatures and “release” temperatures should be set in accordance with achievable room temperature
  •  Always make sure the process challenge device results are read before releasing items for use
  •  The cooling area should be managed by the reprocessing professionals in that department
  • Make sure implants are not released for use until the biological results are documented
  • All wrapped items and peel pouched items should be inspected for package integrity
  • All rigid containers should be inspected for changing of indicator colors, as well as tamper evident locks in place

Protection for your Patients

Reprocessing intricate medical devices is a very challenging, technical and skilled task. It is important for all reprocessing professionals to remember to take time during the cooling and releasing of sterilized items back to end users. Ensuring that all sterilized items are inspected before release and in good condition. We know this takes time, but it is how we guarantee the safety of our teammates as well as the safety of the patient’s life.