Autoclaves are true marvels of modern technology that continue to help the work of the medical industry each day. Celitron’s work can also confirm this: our steam sterilizers are already present in over 40 countries and have been recommended by sterile processing technicians and doctors alike.
But what do hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and other medical facilities need to know about before choosing an autoclave? Staff definitely need to be knowledgeable about the steps of the sterilization process, since this is how they can handle biomedical waste and the operation of the machine safely, and effectively. Let’s get right into it!
How does the sterilization process of an autoclave work?
The basic principle of an autoclave is the following: by removing the air inside a closed chamber with an impressive vacuum system, they can raise the pressure within their vessel and create the perfect environment for achieving sterility rapidly and effectively. Higher pressure also allows the boiling point of water to be higher, meaning the machine can use steam that is well over a 100 degrees Celsius: between 121 and 134 degrees, to be exact!
Autoclave sterilization steps you need to pay attention to
Make sure you follow these steps closely when handling an autoclave, and always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines and instructions!
1. First things first: always wear adequate protection gear
Biomedical waste disposal and medical equipment sterilization are processes where medical staff always have to be careful and make sure their safety is not at risk: infectious waste types are always a risk of contamination, and autoclaves use steam between temperatures of 121 and 134 degrees Celsius to sterilize and eliminate this risk. Make sure staff wears heat-resistant gloves, closed-toed shoes, and safety googles or glasses whenever they have to treat any kind of tool or waste close to the autoclave.
2. Always prepare the autoclave before the sterilization process starts
Before you launch the sterilization cycle, make sure to see if there are any blockages in the drain screen of the autoclave, and should it be needed, fill its reservoir using deionized water. There cannot be steam without water, and the sterilization process cannot take place if the screen is blocked.
3. Make sure to check the medical equipment that goes into the autoclave
Autoclaves can sterilize a great number of medical equipment and tools, and even prep medical waste for its final disposal. Still, some materials (even if they are resistant to heat) are simply not compatible with the steam sterilizer, and can either damage the machine, or even worse, cause it to explode.
The following materials CANNOT be put in autoclaves: dried bleach, pathological waste, hazardous and corrosive chemical waste, radioactive medical waste, low molecular weight toxins, and even sharps! Be wary, since if any of your equipment, including something as simple as a lab coat is contaminated by such materials, it will be unfit to put into the autoclave, and will be required to be cleaned before the steam sterilization process can take place.
4. Never open the door of an autoclave before the pressure reaches zero!
Under no circumstances should you be opening the door of an autoclave when the pressure inside the chamber hasn’t hit zero, and the temperature has fallen below 121 degrees Celsius. Otherwise, there is a great chance you could crack any glassware you put inside the autoclave for sterilization.
In the worst case scenario, whoever operates the steam sterilizer could receive serious burn injuries from the extremely hot steam inside. This is why even when you open the door of the chamber according to safety regulations, you should never stand completely in front of it, as even then you could burn yourself.
5. Make sure the sterilization process of the autoclave has been effective
Autoclaves are equipped with some form of device that lets you know the proper parameters are set and that the sterilization process has indeed been completed. Take the time to make sure that the adequate temperatures have been maintained when necessary and for the amount of time required. If this isn’t the case, the autoclave you have been using may need to be serviced, repaired, or simply recalibrated. With multiple autoclaves, you can still restart the steps of the sterilization process in another steam sterilizer machine.
We cannot stress how important this is: if you use a faulty autoclave, not only will you be losing a lot of time, you will also be endangering the safety of patients and staff alike. No matter how effective and helpful autoclaves are, the sterilization process is a procedure that requires the utmost care, and missing any of the steps can have dire consequences.
This is how Celitron’s autoclaves have made the sterilization process safer
With more modern autoclaves like the models Celitron provides, the sterilization process has been made much less dangerous, and the risks that come with some of the previously listed steps have been minimized. No matter what kind of steam sterilizer you choose from our offers, you should know that we have made the sterilization procedure completely automatic from start to finish and incorporated extra safety measures. Whether you are a smaller clinic or pharmacy requiring a medium steam sterilizer, or a hospital in need of a large autoclave, we’ve made steam sterilization as secure as possible.
This means that:
- Before the steam sterilization can take place, the doors won’t close if they are obstructed, and go back to an open position.
- If the temperature and pressure inside the chamber is still too high, you won’t be able to open the door, even by accident.
There you have it: these are the basics of the steps of the autoclave sterilization process. If you have more questions about the exact functions and uses, or parameters of our steam sterilizer models, do not hesitate to download the specification brochures on our sites, or just drop us a line with the “contact us” button! We have medical equipment sterilization and disposal solutions for everyone: come see for yourself!