Of all methods for sterilization, pressurized saturated steam through autoclaving is by far the most dependable. That’s because it’s non-toxic, sporicidal, rapidly microbicidal, rapidly heats, inexpensive, and it penetrates through fabrics easily. And like all sterilization methods, autoclaving steam sterilization has limitations in terms of how the instrument remains sterilized at a specific time period.
So how long does autoclave sterilization last? This is one of the common questions you might be asking if you have a medical profession as autoclaves are commonly used in the industrial and medical fields as well as in dental clinics, veterinary clinics, and local beauty shops.
If you’re interested to know the answer to this question, we suggest you go on reading as we’ll talk about this topic in today’s post.
How Does The Autoclaving Process Work
Before we explain further how long instruments remain sterile after the autoclave process, allow us to discuss first how does the autoclaving process work.
Autoclave machines sterilize by applying high pressure steam to instruments above the boiling point. And the primary agent which makes sterilization possible is the steam since it penetrates the packaging fabrics to kill various bacteria and spores that are clinging to the surface of the instruments. Moreover, moist heat or steam is more effective because the transfer of heat is faster than dry heating. This is the reason why autoclaves are essential in medical facilities like hospitals, clinics, and laboratories because these establishments often deal with foreign agents and various harmful substances.
The process of sterilization starts by labeling the items using an autoclave indicator and then removing the air inside the autoclave chamber while simultaneously generating steam to eliminate present microorganisms on the instrument(s). The steam is continuously pumped into the chamber until it reaches the desired level of pressure which can kill microbes, germs, and viruses. To be specific, there are 3 elements involved in the sterilization process, and these are:
- High Temperature
- Dry Steam Pressure
- Heat Transfer Ability Of The Steam
Once the autoclave sterilization process is complete, the autoclaved instruments are dried out, and the drying time depends on the moistness of the steam and other underlying factors.
How Longs Does Items Stay Sterile After Autoclaving
The sterility period of autoclaved items will depend on various factors like temperature, humidity, packaging (wrapping, peel-apart packaging, containers), wrapper material, etc.
For instance, if the packaging of the item has been torn, dropped on dirty surfaces, compressed, or, then the item should not be used and should be sterilized again to prevent the risk of contamination.
Other than that, the sterility period of autoclaved instruments will also depend on the packaging guidelines of the item as the manufacturer usually provides the shelf life and guidelines to keep the object sterile, storage conditions, frequency of handling, and transport conditions.
What you should always keep in mind is once the instrument is already sterilized, stored, and contained appropriately, you should make sure that the storage and containment conditions of sterilized objects are not compromised to prevent the possibility of contamination.
If you’re looking for autoclave indicators, you can visit Nev’s Ink’s website today.
Published by Anna Wrench