Autoclave Procedures That are Safe and More Efficient

An autoclave uses pressurized steam to sterilize scientific or medical equipment. While simple boiling of these items in water can still kill a number of spores and microbes, some of them can’t easily get killed that way. But usually, an autoclave pressurizes water to about 1 atmosphere (15 pounds per every square inch), which significantly raises the boiling point of water. It then proceeds to heat the water until then new boiling point is attained, which in turn elevates the boiling temperature of water to a point where it’s hot enough to kill any form of life; thus sterilizing any equipment or apparatus insides it within 15 to 20 minutes. That being said, what autoclave procedure will ensure its effective functioning?


Step by step instructions in autoclave procedure:

1. Start by twisting the control knob–located at the bottom front of your autoclave machine—to a closing position.

2. You can now open the autoclave door before adding hot water in the opening bottom. Don’t allow the water to fill the reservoir lip completely; instead, let it fill it from just below. In most machines, this will only require 1 gallon of water.

3. Load the apparatus to be pasteurized into the autoclave shelf. More importantly, ensure the liquids in the bottles are less than three-quarter full, with their lids slightly loosened. Plus, clean petri dishes should be placed in the top side up, while the contaminated petri dishes loaded agar side down and the apparatus wrapped in brown paper and then stapled to be secured.

4. Now close the door and then press the long handle down to securely latch it.

5. If you’re sterilizing an apparatus that contains water, remember to fasten the toggle switch (found at the top-middle section of most machines) to slow down the exhaust.

6. To select an appropriate time-length for sterilizing the apparatus, twist the timer. For instance, if you’re sterilizing small volume equipment, this should take you about 15 minutes. But for machines that weigh over a litre, this should approximately take you 30 minutes to have the machine completely sterilized.

7. After that, wait until the pressure indicator and timer both read zero, before opening the door. While doing this, try to keep your face, arms and hands away from the upper part of the door—where the steam is emerging–to avoid getting burnt.

8. Using heat-proof gloves, you can now remove the sterilized item. Pour the melted contaminated agar into a biohazard bowl, and then use hot water to rinse the glassware.

9. To finish up, you can press-stud the drain control valve to drain the water in the autoclave.


Safety precautions while using an autoclave

While handling sharp objects and biohazard materials, remember to put on proper PPE—lab coat, gloves and goggles. Also important, ensure that you dispose all the sharp objects separately in well-labelled containers.

To prevent tightly capped bottles from building up pressure, don’t cap them tightly. Instead, loosen them a bit and let them release pressure when heated.

Now, in order to stay safe from hot surfaces and gases while removing your apparatus from an autoclave, just don’t remove the items until you’re well assured the autoclave has completely cooled off.


As you can see, the whole of this article offers a standard outline for proper autoclave procedures. By following every step in this guide, you’ll be rest assured of safety and an effective sterilization procedure while using any kind of autoclave.