If you use a washer disinfector in your clinic, care home or laboratory you know how vital they are to you and your team.

They are quick, easy to use machines that drastically cut down the risk of infection. They can in effect the weapon of choice across the healthcare industry in the ball against HCAIs.

So, you will want to ensure that your best defence is always in tip top condition. This is where washer disinfector testing comes in.

Imagine if your washer disinfector was out of action. Will you have enough bedpans for patients? Will all your equipment be properly sterilized? The risk of infection will also be higher which can cause chaos. This puts your reputation on the line and your patient’s health at risk.

Added to that you may find yourself with a hefty fee to pay for fixing the machine, or even worse having to buy a new one.

Again, this is where regular washing disinfector testing can save you a tonne of stress and potentially money.

The testing and validation of decontamination and sterilisation equipment is a vital aspect of every practice’s decontamination procedures. This should be clearly laid down in your infection control policy.

Why You Need Regular Washer Disinfector Tests

So why do you need to test your washer disinfector? Well there’s two main reasons.

  1. Prevent major breakdowns

Standards tests can normally be performed in house by a member of your team who has been trained on the machine.

If you stick to doing this weekly, you can ensure you washer disinfector remains in good working order. You can also provide early diagnosis of any potential issues before they become too big.

Essentially nipping these in the bud before they really affect things.

Keeping a record of these tests will also help you out a lot when it comes to CQC inspections. They may even request proof of your infection control strategy, so handing them a weekly test schedule will go down very well.

  1. Spot gradual declines in condition, as well an obvious maintenance issue.

By doing these weekly tests and recording the results you’ll begin to understand levels of performance.

For example, how long a cycle lasts, is more detergent being used than normal? Or doors sealing correctly? Are they damaged?

Spotting these little issues could all be signs of a potential maintenance issue in the making. By catching these in advance you can arrange an inspection, or repair in good time. This affects your day to day operations less than if the machine becomes unavailable.

What Checks Should Be Carried Out?

There are a few things you should keep an eye on when doing your washer disinfector tests. These include:

  • A record of the maximum temperature reached
  • The time taken to complete the cycle
  • A check that spray arms and nozzles are rotating freely
  • A check that door seals are in good condition
  • Removal and cleaning of strainers and filters
  • Confirmation that the machine contains enough detergent (and is topped up if necessary).

There are also two other types of tests that need to happen.

  1. Soil (efficacy) test

The aim of the test is to ensure that the cycle will adequately clean a heavily soiled load and is actioned with a strip coated in an artificial test substance.

The strip represents a particularly difficult level of soiling, which the machine must clear in order to pass the test.

HTM 01-05 2013 Edition deems both the ‘visual cleaning efficacy test’ and the ‘cleaning efficacy test using a test soil’ as a requirement.

Adhering to HTM 01-05 the cleaning efficacy test using a test soil needs to be performed at least quarterly.

  1. Protein test

A protein residue test is a chemical test used to detect levels of protein on a processed load that cannot be seen by visual inspection.

The test is looking for a certain type of protein which is found in blood. This is important because if an instrument is not clean it cannot be sterilised.

Dirty instruments that are processed through a sterilisation cycle will not be sterile at the end of the decontamination process.

Make sure you also keep a record of each protein residue test as evidence.

When Should You Test Your Washer Disinfectors?


Daily checks are simple and can just involve members of staff doing a visual inspection of the machine. This is just to stop any wear and tear. You can use the checklist we provided above for daily checks.


These tests should ideally be carried out by a maintenance technician, who can perform more in-depth examinations.

These are tests that you and your staff will not be able to carry out. So, we’re looking at thermometric tests for disinfection. This also looks at chemical dosing and general functioning of the operating cycle.

A quarterly soil test will not only ensure cleaning efficacy, but also help you adhere to HTM 01-05 recommendations.

A soil test should always be carried out as per the manufacturer’s guidelines (to prevent misleading results).  This should be performed by a specialist engineer as part of HTM validation testing.

Validation testing is vital to ensure that the machine is working to the correct standard.

Regular Maintenance with Dekomed

For anyone who purchases a DEKO washer disinfector we ensure continued support. We ensure that regular testing is carried out with the utmost efficiency and professionalism.

All our engineers are trained as test persons and have years of experience testing the DEKO washer disinfector range. In addition, our test engineers only test DEKO washer disinfectors, so you can be confident that the tests will be carried out with the utmost competence.

Validation contracts can be set up for a one-off visit or up to a five per year package. Either way, a successful report will arrive on your desk within one week of the tests being carried out. Each report can be tailor made to suit your unique requirements or a standard report can be issued.