This Instrument Washer/Disinfector Keeps Up with High Volume

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The PG 8581 Dental Washer-Disinfector from Miele is crucial to the operations of one dental school and its nearly 400 students.

An often overlooked, but no less important piece of the practice puzzle is infection control. Instrument reprocessing is essential in infection control and ensuring patient and staff safety. For Robin Waner, MS, RDH, director of clinics at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) College of Dentistry, the PG 8581 Dental Washer-Disinfector from Miele has been key in keeping up with the sterilization needs of more than 400 undergraduate dental students.

“We have…a lot of sterilization needs that we have to meet, and we make these needs based on federal, state, [and] local guidelines,” Waner says. “So, we don’t take shortcuts and it’s a very high-paced volume area that we operate.”

The college of dentistry has gone through several iterations of the Miele instrument washer since Waner joined the staff about 20 years ago. She estimates that the staff at the college run about 4 cycles per unit, and with 11 units in total, their volume is especially high. Despite the high number of cycles, the PG 8581 has held up well, thanks in part to Miele’s customer service and support.

“I think that the Miele is a great piece of equipment,” Waner says. “Ours last forever, because…in many cases, Miele is doing all the servicing of the unit. That pretty much guarantees that you’re only using Miele parts. And there is a certain amount of expectation we have for them to be quality, and they haven’t disappointed me on that.”


The PG 8581 features a variable-speed heater pump. The speed of the pump and the wash pressure are adjusted in alignment with cycle requirements and program settings. For dental instruments, high pressure can facilitate the removal of stubborn soiling, whereas low pressure can ensure the complete soaking of all wash items, according to information provided by Miele. Its integrated heater element is said to save space in the chamber, and it heats the water faster and delivers it through the feed pipes and spray arms more efficiently.

For those who are environmentally conscious, the PG 8581 is designed to consume 42% less water compared with previous models. The variable-speed heating pump adjusts its speeds, and in turn, the wash pressure, in line with the relevant requirements in the program. Through this process, energy and water consumption remain low while optimum wash pressure is maintained.

Additionally, the PG 8581 features EcoDry, which at the end of each reprocessing program opens the door automatically as soon as the temperature in the wash cabinet has fallen below 158 °F. This is designed to allow residual moisture to escape from the wash cabinet and the washed items to dry more quickly.

Something that made the Miele unit stand out was its ability to remove human error, Waner explains. It also ensures her staff safety and reduces the potential of sharps injuries.

“One of the reasons why we went to this system, [rather than] any other type of thermal disinfector, is…that it takes human error, in many cases, out of the equation,” Waner says. “So for example, in a private office, they’re going to sit with a brush on the instrument, and they’re going [to] scrub each individual instrument, or touch contaminated instruments, prior to sterilizing them [and] putting them into an autoclave machine.”

“When we throw things into the thermal disinfector, you don’t have to touch it,” she continues. “So it reduces the bioburden. That way, there is far less of a risk. If any of our staff then gets a stick from a sharp instrument because it’s been through the cycle, there’s been a certain amount of disinfection that has already taken place. And for that reason, I’m in favor of every dental office putting one of these in.”

The unit allows staff to check for broken instruments and residue without fear of being contaminated by a pathological microorganism, Waner says. That, to her, is one of the key benefits of practices using the Miele PG 8581.

“That’s the main advantage to using this,” Waner says. “If offices [add this system,] it makes for a much safer environment for their staff.”