How Autoclaves Eliminate Microorganisms

In the medical setting, many steps are taken to maintain a clean environment. Medical professionals use equipment throughout their day to assess and treat patients. These instruments must be cleaned after use, which is where the autoclave is helpful. An autoclave is used to kill microorganisms using heat. If you are interested in learning how autoclaves eliminate microorganisms, keep reading.

Autoclave Explained

It is common to wonder how autoclaves eliminate organisms. Autoclaves use heat to sterilize equipment. The instruments are sterilized because autoclaves use pressurized steam to kill microorganisms and spores. An autoclave removes all the air in and around the object that needs sterilization. The steam then penetrates the object and sterilizes it. An autoclave kills microorganisms by destroying the organisms’ structure. The organisms’ structural proteins lose shape, and this causes coagulation. Coagulation causes the organism to denature, which kills the organism.

Temperature and Time

Autoclaves must reach 121 degrees Celsius to be effective. The autoclave should read 121 degrees Celsius for a least thirty minutes before use. An autoclave at 121 degrees Celsius translates to 249.8 degrees Fahrenheit. There is not a suggested time for every piece of equipment, as the time varies depending on the size of the object. Other factors also contribute to time, including whether an object is wrapped or unwrapped. Dry materials are treated in fast exhaust cycles, and slow exhaust is required for liquid and biological waste.

Compatible Materials

It is extremely important to know what can and cannot go into the autoclave. An autoclave is an investment, and the best way to take care of that investment is by using it correctly. Many objects can be sterilized in an autoclave, including surgical instruments, glassware, gloves, waste, and stainless steel. There are many other materials that are compatible with the autoclave as well.

Items that are not autoclave-compatible include acids, bases, and organic solvents. Chlorine, non-stainless steel, polyurethane, and polyethylene are also not autoclave-compatible. There are also a few objects that should never be placed in an autoclave. This includes any materials that are flammable, toxic, reactive, or radioactive. Bleach and any liquids in a sealed container should also not be placed in an autoclave.

All States Medical Distribution offers high-quality autoclave supplies to meet all your facility’s needs. We have over 12 years of experience in the medical field, so we are confident that we can help you find whatever you’re seeking. Don’t hesitate to give us a call with any questions you may have along the way.