How to use autoclave machines: a step-by-step guide

“How to use autoclave machines” is one of the most frequently asked questions by healthcare professionals

How to use autoclave machines: a step-by-step guide

“How to use autoclave machines” is one of the most frequently asked questions by healthcare professionals. These onsite sterilization solutions provide a practical method to sterilize medical waste and tools, which can then be reused for the treatment of patients. While there can be differences between different models, and you should always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions, this article can still provide you with an overall picture of autoclaves and how to use them.

How to use autoclave machines - Step 1: Familiarize yourself with the steam sterilizer

To learn how to use an autoclave, you should first take a moment to learn more about this special machine for hospitals and other medical facilities. Read through the manufacturer’s instructions, and check its components, including the control panel, pressure gauge, and safety features. Make sure the machine is clean and in good condition to avoid any potential issues with the sterilization process.

You should also understand the basics about the different sterilization cycles your autoclave can offer. Some autoclaves have specific cycles for items like liquids, wrapped instruments, or porous materials. Make sure to always select the appropriate cycle based on the nature of the items you are sterilizing.

How to use autoclave machines - Step 2: Prep work for sterilization

Successful autoclaving also depends on proper preparation. Some items need to be wrapped to make sure they withstand the high temperatures and pressure inside the autoclave.

You should also arrange items inside the chamber in a way that helps with effective steam circulation. Do NOT overcrowd the chamber!

How to use autoclave machines - Step 3: Add water to the autoclave’s chamber

Check the water level of the autoclave and add distilled water if necessary. All autoclaves rely on steam for sterilization.

How to use autoclave machines - Step 4: Load the autoclave with the items that need to be treated

Carefully load the previously prepared materials inside the autoclave’s chamber. Staff should always follow safety instructions when handling materials that haven’t been sterilized yet, including wearing PPE.

How to use autoclave machines - Step 5: Set sterilization parameters

Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions to set the appropriate sterilization parameters depending on the types of items inside. These include temperature, pressure, and duration.

How to use autoclave machines - Step 6: Start the sterilization cycle, monitoring

Close the door of the autoclave, and launch the process according to the instructions on the control panel. Once the process starts, the autoclave will gradually increase the temperature and pressure inside and add steam.

Remember to check and pay attention to the displayed information on the control panel during this phase. Celitron's automatic autoclave machines for hospitals are particularly user-friendly in this regard, as they come with preset cycles, customizable cycles, and a fully automatic operation that makes everyday use much more practical since even the opening and closing of the door is done automatically.

How to use autoclave machines - Step 7: Wait for depressurization

Once the sterilization cycle is complete, the autoclave still needs time to return pressure and temperature levels to normal. Until then, the door MUST NOT be opened, as that could cause serious injuries to medical staff. High-tech autoclaves may also come that safety features that prevent you from opening the door. Depressurization times can vary based on different models – vacuum autoclaves are usually faster and more efficient compared to gravity autoclaves.

How to use autoclave machines - Step 9: Unload the sterilized items

Be cautious and make sure the items aren’t too hot anymore. Place the sterilized materials in the designated sterile areas until they are used again for the treatment of patients.

How to use autoclave machines - Step 10: Document the sterilization process

Having accurate records of your sterilization cycles is all part of quality control and regulatory compliance. Some autoclave models make this much easier by allowing for a PC connection and ensuring thorough documentation via software solutions.