What You Need to Know About Autoclave Trays

Autoclave trays are trays that are used to handle sterile equipment safely, transport them and contain the equipment during the sterilization process. These trays can either be made of plastic or metal and come in various shapes and sizes. Bowls, kidney dishes, instrument trays, etc. are all examples of autoclave trays.

autoclave trays

Ideally, when purchasing an autoclave tray, durability and reliability are key factors to consider. The best trays come with guarantees to last for 1000 washes and sterilizations. Products with such a guarantee are definitely worth purchasing.

There has been much debate in the industry over which type of autoclave trays are better. Plastic or metal? So far, plastic seems to be a clear winner for several reasons.

Plastic trays are much lighter but just as strong as metal trays. Being lighter, they’re easier to store, handle and carry. The bigger steel trays are often much heavier and cumbersome to handle. Plastic units are also less noisy since there is less clanging and banging involved. The noise levels when washing and handling steel trays can be quite high.

Plastic autoclave trays are also brightly colored so you know exactly where they are. Easy to differentiate from all the other metal equipment. On a plastic tray, scratches on the surface are negligible and do not affect the sterilization procedure. This situation is reversed for metal trays where scratches can mean oxidation and rust which in turn makes sterilizing them in future much more difficult.

The plastic trays are also smoother and do not cause paper rips. They do not need reprocessing and have an extended shelf life since they do not get stained, dented or start rusting. Metal autoclave trays have sharp edges and can puncture the paper and pouches. This will make the sterilization ineffective.

Furthermore, the damaged trays may injure medical personnel by accidentally scratching them during handling.
Besides the material of the autoclave trays, there is another factor that must be considered when using autoclave tray. That factor is what equipment goes inside the tray. This is crucial. Placing the wrong equipment into the autoclave tray and trying to sterilize it is going to be hazardous. 

Generally, glass (Pyrex only or recommended glassware), polypropylene equipment such as bags, trays and pans, latex or vinyl products and metal instruments designed to withstand high heat should be used in autoclave trays. There are other equipment too but these will come with special instructions and requirements.

More importantly, one must know what they should never place in an autoclave. There are many cases of fires breaking out on university labs because the students did not follow the procedures and placed the wrong materials in an autoclave. This is highly dangerous and cause injury and even loss of life if things spin out of control. 

To be safe, never place combustible, flammable or volatile liquids in an autoclave. Liquids that are in a sealed container are also a no-no. It will cause an explosion. The items placed in an autoclave must be contained in the tray and under no circumstances come into contact with the interior of the autoclave. Lastly, no radioactive material or material that has been contaminated by radiation should ever be introduced into an autoclave.

Follow the information above when purchasing autoclave trays and use them safely to sterilize your equipment. Autoclaves are a fantastic invention and indispensable when it comes to ensuring patients’ safety. Use them wisely.

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