Autoclaving is a process of machine sterilisation that effectively eliminates pathogens and microbes that are responsible for the spread of disease and infection.
Autoclaves are used in a variety of industries but are most significantly employed in medical and dental establishments to sterilise medical instruments, equipment, and other items that are reusable and not disposable.
The process of autoclaving is considered to be far more effective at preventing the spread of disease through sterilisation than other techniques due to the following factors:
- Autoclaves sterilise using steam at high pressure and high temperatures which are far more effective at destroying pathogens.
- The autoclave allows for the delivery of entirely dry instruments which further eliminates the risk of the spread of disease and infection.
- Autoclaving is suitable for most types of materials used in the medical industry, unlike other sterilisation methods.
- Sterilised items can be delivered much faster than traditional sterilisation techniques.
1. How Does an Autoclave Work?
An autoclave operates much like a pressure cooker that delivers high temperatures at high pressure to effectively eliminate microbes such as bacteria, viruses, fungii, etc.
Once it is closed and sealed, the autoclave replaces the air in the chamber with steam thereby increasing the temperature quickly.
When the ideal temperature is reached (usually between 268 and 273 degrees F), the timer starts.
The amount of time depends on the size of the autoclave, the volume of items placed in the chamber and the type of material that the items are made of.
However, a minimum period of 30 minutes is generally recommended for effective sterilisation.
Once the time has expired, the autoclave will release the steam and pressure in the chamber and allow the items to cool before they can be handled.
Some autoclaves have an additional drying feature which means that instruments do not need to stand or be dried by hand which could lead to contamination after sterilisation.
2. What Items Can Be Placed in an Autoclave?
Most types of materials are suitable to be sterilised in an autoclave.
However, it is not recommended to place items that are made from different materials in the autoclave at the same time.
It is also advisable to use the recommended cycle for the specific type of material that requires sterilisation.
Delicate items such as glass should be wrapped before being placed in the autoclave. Paper is not suitable for use in an autoclave.
Items should preferably be placed in designated containers for ease of handling, maximum sterilisation and to prevent breakages or damage occurring.
If there is any concern regarding the suitability of a specific material in an autoclave, read the user manual or contact the manufacturer.
3. Where Are Autoclaves Used?
Autoclaves are generally found in the medical industry including hospitals, clinics and surgeries.
They are also commonly used for the sterilisation of instruments in the dental field.
Research institutes may use an autoclave to sterilise equipment and make sure they are free of pathogens as well as chemicals.
However, it is not recommended to place any items that are inflammable or have been exposed to inflammable substances in the autoclave.
Tattoo and beauty parlours, as well as barbers, may use autoclaves to prevent the spread of disease by sterilising various instruments that are used in each of their specific industries.
In addition, veterinarians and animal clinics or hospitals may have an autoclave to take care of all their sterilisation needs.
Autoclaving has been practised for centuries for the sterilisation of equipment in an effort to help prevent the spread of disease.
Due to technological advances, this equipment has become far more widely used in different industries to more effectively eliminate pathogens and microorganisms.
We were originally established in 1952 in order to provide electro-medical products to healthcare professionals across the country.
The company (Medical Equipment Services) was acquired by Medical Equipment Australia in 2009. Since then, we have also expanded into the dental industry.