An autoclave is a specialized piece of equipment designed to deliver steam generated heat under pressure to a sealed chamber, with the goal of decontaminating or sterilizing its contents.
What materials are autoclaved?
- Autoclave ALL cultures and stocks of infectious agents, consumables used in the manipulation of said cultures, recombinant materials (r-s-NA), human, non-human primate, or infectious animal tissue waste, cages and bedding of potentially infected animals, and reusable lab ware.
- DO NOT AUTOCLAVE items contaminated with solvents, volatile or corrosive chemicals, radioactive materials, or items containing carcinogens, mutagens or teratogens.
- Contact EHRS at 215-898-4453 for more information on how to dispose of non-autoclavable items properly.
- Contact your autoclave vendor for training on how to operate the autoclave.
- Use a secondary container to prevent spills in the autoclave
- Remove material from the autoclave in a timely manner
- Place autoclaved waste in appropriate waste collection bins
- Leave autoclaved material in the autoclave overnight!!! (plastic bags may break down, spilling their contents in the autoclave chamber)
- Leave any waste bags on the floor
- Abort someone else’s autoclave cycle
How to use an autoclave:
- Review the operator’s manual for instructions as different makes and models of autoclaves have different controls.
- Wear appropriate PPE while loading and unloading the autoclave, including heat resistant gloves, lab coat, and eye protection. A face shield should be worn if a splash hazard is present.
- ONLY use autoclavable biohazard bags.
- Use a heat resistant SECONDARY CONTAINER to retain any leakage that may occur.
- DO NOT overfill bags or autoclave chamber as this decreases its effectiveness.
- Leave bags unsealed to allow for steam penetration.
- Fill liquid containers only ½ full and loosen caps or use vented closures.
- DO NOT autoclave liquid and dry material together.
- Segregate autoclave loads (infectious waste, liquid, or labware).
- DO NOT LEAVE AUTOCLAVED MATERIAL IN AUTOCLAVE OVERNIGHT!!!
- Use appropriate cycle times for autoclaving. See the autoclaves user manual or the Biosafety Manual for further guidance.
- HOT, HOT, HOT! - Allow materials to cool down for 15-20 minutes prior to their removal.
- Always handle autoclaved material with HEAT RESISTANT GLOVES.
- ALWAYS make sure the pressure has gone to ZERO before opening the door!
- Use extreme CAUTION when opening an autoclave door – there still may be steam inside the chamber after the pressure has dropped to zero which can cause severe burns.