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CAUTION: Always autoclave vessels with loose caps or closures.

A steam autoclave may be used to sterilize media, glassware, waste, instruments, etc. To accomplish the desired end goal and to protect the user and the environment from hazardousmaterials, the autoclave must be used correctly. Additionally, wastes must be managed in compliance with state and local regulations.  For the autoclave process to be effective in achieving sterilization, sufficient temperature, time and direct steam contact are essential. 

Air must be completely removed from the sterilizerchamber and from the materials to allow steam penetration so that the material being autoclavedwill be at treatment temperature for sufficient time to achieve kill. Factors that affect air removal include type and quantity of material to be autoclaved, packaging, load density and configuration,and container type, size, and shape.


Packaging for autoclaving
1. All potentially infectious materials must be autoclaved before being washed and stored ordisposed.

2. Personnel who use an autoclave must be trained to understand proper packaging, loading,labeling, and operation procedures.

3. Biohazardous materials must be labeled as such and must be sterilized by the end of eachwork day, or must be secured appropriately. Do not leave biohazardous materials in anautoclave overnight in anticipation of autoclaving the next day.

4. Do not autoclave materials that also contain toxic or volatile chemical or radiological agents.

1. Use red/orangebags or other containers labeled "Biohazard" for items that contain or may becontaminated with potentially infectious agents.

2. Use plain, unmarked bags or containers for items that are not hazardous.

3. Do not double bag waste or tightly seal containers as this will impede steam penetration.

4. Do not put sharp objects such as broken glassware into an autoclave bag.

5. Open, shallow metal pans are more effective in conducting heat and allowing air removal than tall, plastic tubs.

6. Vessels with liquid should not be plugged or tightly capped.

7. It is advisable to add some water to bags of solid wastes (the water will vaporize into steamthat will drive out residual air once sterilization temperature has been reached inside the bag).

8. When using an autoclave bag with a 'Biohazard' symbol on it, place a strip of tape thatproduces the word "autoclaved" across the symbol. This must be done for any autoclave bagthat has a Biohazard symbol.

Proper Loading of the Autoclave

Proper Operating Parameters

Unloading the Autoclave Safely

Proper Record Keeping

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