What is Autoclaving?

  • Autoclaving: For liquid handling goods in particular, autoclaving is the most efficient way to sterilise lab equipment and eliminate dangerous bacteria, viruses, fungi, and spores.
  • The phenomenon that water’s (or steam’s) boiling point rises under high pressure is exploited during the autoclaving process.
  • It is done in a device called an autoclave, where high pressure is used and the equipment is sterilized for 15 to 20 minutes at a suggested temperature of 250°F (121°C).
  • In a number of fields, including veterinary science, dentistry, microbiology, and medicine, autoclaving or steam sterilization is employed.

Advantages/ Disadvantages of an Autoclave

Here are some, Benefits and Drawbacks of an Autoclave


  1. Economical or low-cost
  2. Short process time
  3. Offer effective & good penetration on all surfaces
  4. No need for additional chemicals or disposables required


  1. Moisture holding
  2. Exposure to moisture can degrade carbon steel.
  3. Only stainless steel (SS) equipment and heat-resistant plastics should be sterilized. 

Compatible and Incompatible Materials

The following are materials that may and may not be treated using an autoclave.  

Compatible Materials:

  • Tissue Culture Flasks
  • Surgical Instruments
  • Glassware
  • Pipette tips
  • Media Solutions
  • Animal food and bedding
  • Waste
  • Polypropylene (Secondary containers)
  • Stainless steel
  • Gloves

Incompatible Materials:

  • Acids, bases and organic solvent
  • Chlorides, sulphates
  • Seawater
  • Chlorine, hypochlorite, bleach
  • Non-stainless steel
  • Polystyrene(PS)
  • Polyethylene(PE)
  • Low density (LDPE) and High density polyethylene (HDPE)
  • Polyurethane

NEVER Autoclave:

  • Flammable, reactive, corrosive, toxic or radioactive materials
  • Household bleach
  • Any liquid in a sealed/closed in container.
  • Any material contained in such a manner that it touches the interior surfaces of the autoclave.
  • Paraffin-embedded tissue.
  • The melted paraffin may create significant damage to the autoclave. 

Autoclave Do’s and Don’ts

It’s important to follow all safety process for processing into autoclave in the lab, including use of proper PPE (heat-resistant gloves, a lab coat, proper eye protection and closed-toed shoes).  


  • To autoclave garbage, use “ORANGE” autoclavable bio-hazard bags.
  • Before loosely closing the bag, add approximately 250 mL of water.
  • Put the bag in a secondary container made of polypropylene or stainless steel that is autoclave safe.
  • When the autoclaved bag has cooled, place it in the approved medical waste box. Leave the area tidy. In order for others to use the autoclave, remove your garbage from it promptly.


  • For autoclave trash, use RED bio-hazard bags.
  • After the run is finished, leave your bags in the autoclave.
  • Place autoclave bags that are full on the ground.
  • Autoclave bags that are not placed in the correct garbage bins will be handled by the janitorial personnel. They lack the training necessary to manage bio-waste.
  • In your lab, the autoclave, or the autoclave room, let autoclave bags gather.
  • Use autoclave bags for purposes other than collecting bio-hazardous material. 
Autoclaving-Autoclave Do's and Don’ts


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