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Things to consider when closing for Christmas

Christmas time will soon be upon us, and it will be a chance for us to spend some quality time with friends and families. As Christmas day falls on a Sunday, this year, there is a good chance that you will be closing the practices for at least 4 days, maybe longer. Due to the extended period of closure, it is important that we decommission the vulnerable pieces of equipment.

There are certain pieces of equipment that could potentially pose a risk if they are not ‘closed’ down fully or correctly. The items to check off are:

· Treatment Centres

· Compressors

· Autoclaves

· Ultrasonic Baths

· Washer Disinfectors

· RO units and Water distillers

· Stored bottled water

· Clinical Waste

· Compliance tasks

Treatment Centres

Treatment centres, if left with water in them, are a potential breeding ground for water borne pathogens and a major biofilm risk. If you are not routinely using any additive in the water bottles, then it is important that you fully drain the entire chair of all water in the DUWL’s. The bottles should be left inverted to air dry, and the chair should be switched off at the mains. If you are using an additive, then always follow the manufacturers guidance for the recommended duration that the bottles can be left on. If the plan is to close the practice for longer than the recommended period, then you should look to follow the previous guidance in removing and draining of all water.

By following these steps, it will prevent any potential growth of biofilm and potentially harmful water pathogens keeping the treatment centre safe and well maintained.


Always ensure that the compressor is switched off at the isolation switch, which will ensure the safety of the practice and prevent any possible fire risk.


The autoclaves need to be drained of all water and the internal storage tanks must be dried with a lint free cloth. This will help to prevent any biofilm build up within the chambers and maintain the units. I would also suggest unplugging the units from the mains electrical supply to prevent any possible electrical failures. If your unit is connected to direct feed RO water, then you should also isolate the mains water to prevent any flood risk. You should also ensure that the units cycle logs have been downloaded and backed up on the main PC.

Ultrasonic Baths

The ultrasonic baths must be drained of all water, and they should be dried with a lint free cloth. This will ensure that the units are protected against any biofilm growth. The units should also be disconnected from the mains electrical supply.

Washer Disinfectors

It is important that the WD’s cycle logs are downloaded and backed up on the PC. The feed water supply should be isolated, and the unit should be disconnected from the electrical supply. If your practices are planning to close for the entire Christmas/ New year period, then I would also recommend running a flushing cycle of the detergent pipes. If detergent is left in the internal pipes for a period of time, there is a risk that this can crystalise and create issues for the unit. By disconnecting the detergent and flushing the pipes with warm water this will remove any potential risk. You should consult the manufacturers user manual on how to perform this and if they require it.

RO units and Water Distillers

All RO water units should be drained of all water and the mains isolation switch should be turned off. Also disconnect the units from the electricity. Some RO units may require a new set of filters to be connected after a period of shut down, so it’s a good idea to ensure that we have these to hand just in case. Water distillers should be switched off at the mains and the kettles should be left inverted to air dry.

Stored Water bottles

If we decant water, from RO and distillers, into 5Ltr containers and are routinely adding additives to them then, providing the bottles haven’t been opened, these will be fine to store for the practice closure. If we are not adding any additives, then I would suggest storing any unopened containers in the fridge as the low temperature will help slow down any potential bacteria growth.

Clinical Waste

Ref: Code of Practice for the Management of Clinical Waste

Ensure that all of the clinical waste bins have been emptied and replaced with fresh bags ready for reopening. The clinical waste bags should be securely tired using the ‘Swan Neck’ and the practices postcode should be clearly visible on them.

Compliance Tasks

If you are using a practice compliance software, such as Apolline, then its important that any remaining practice tasks have been completed before closing. This will help to ensure that when you return you are not playing catch up. It is also a good idea to add all of these ‘Close’ down jobs to your daily tasks schedule to ensure that they are ticked off and recorded.

Its also important that all instruments have been processed through cleaning and sterilisation and that they are pouched ready for when the practice reopens.

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