Training is required prior to using the autoclave. Training should include the hazards, autoclave function, safety precautions and operating procedure for the particular autoclave one is using. Not only will this minimize the risk of physical injury to the end user, but it is essential to ensure a successful decontamination or sterilization of your material. Training will also help minimize the risk of damage to the equipment. This guideline is one tool for training.
The designate should document the training provided to their staff (e.g., students and support staff), using the autoclave. The record should include name of trainee, date of training and signature.
The designate should provide a written Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to the end user which at a minimum should include the following information:
Glassware should be inspected for cracks prior to autoclaving. Prepare and package material suitably.
Loose dry materials should be wrapped or bagged in steam-penetrable paper or loosely covered with aluminum foil.
All containers should be covered by a loosened lid or steam-penetrable bung. Containers of liquid should be a maximum of 2/3rds filled, with lids loosened. Glassware should be heat-resistant borosilicate.
Plastics should be heat-resistant eg: polycarbonate (PC), PTFE ("Teflon") and most polypropylene (PP) items. Items or baskets should be tagged with autoclave tape to verify sterilization. Loosen all lids to prevent pressure buildup. Add water to containers as appropriate.
Items should be placed in a stainless steel or autoclavable plastic container for their stability and ease of handling. The pan must be large enough to contain a total spill of the contents. Bags must not be tightly sealed as steam cannot penetrate.
Wear heat-insulating gloves, safety glasses/shield and closed toed shoes.
Place material in autoclave. Do not mix incompatible materials (e.g., rubber or materials that will melt). Use loading cart if available.
Do not overload; leave sufficient room for steam circulation. If necessary, place the container on its side to maximize steam penetration and avoid entrapment of air.
Close door firmly.
Enter your name and lab with details on cycle used in Autoclave Log Book.
Check to be sure any ventilating hoods are operating.
Choose appropriate cycle (e.g. liquid, dry etc) for the material.
Set appropriate time and temperature for the cycle.
Do not attempt to open the door while autoclave is operating.
Revised: Nov., 2007