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Autoclaves are instruments used for the sterilization of supplies and equipment. Items loaded into an autoclave are subjected to high pressure steam or air for a period of time, depending on the size and content.

Autoclaves are common features within most medical and pharmaceutical facilities, where they are used for surgical instruments sterilization, dental instrument sterilization, and the sterilization of glassware and utensils used for patient care. They are also common options in places with invasive practices, such as piercing or tattoo parlors.

Although the principle has remained the same over the years, the design of an autoclave has varied. Today, autoclaves can be found in a wide range of styles and sizes which can be adapted to various functions. For instance, within the aerospace and marine industry, it is not uncommon to find autoclaves that are over 10 feet wide and five times as long. These are used in sterilizing and testing the physical properties of vehicles. autoclaves used within hospitals or dental clinics are not as large.

It is important that you use the autoclave properly. Make sure that the drain strainer is properly cleaned before you load the autoclave. Do not stray from the manufacturer’s loading instructions or recommendations. Not every plastic item can be used with an autoclave. Be sure to confirm that they are compatible before you load them. Avoid heating plastic items beyond their temperature limits. Doing this might release fumes, which can clog the drains and ruin the surfaces of the autoclave.

If you are loading items filled with liquid content, loosen the caps slightly to prevent them from shattering. Adding a tray will help you catch possible spills. It is advised that you wait 5 to 10 minutes before removing loaded items. Take the necessary precautions. Wear heat resistant gloves, a face shield, rubber apron and mitts before you open the autoclave. Do not touch the glassware with unprotected hands, for at least 15 minutes. This will give them enough time to cool. Hot glassware can leave severe burns.

Different factors can affect the performance of an autoclave. For instance, leaving the load for too short a period will affect the efficiency of the process. Others include placing items in the wrong type of container, using autoclave bags that are the wrong fit for the unit, and closing bags incorrectly. There are three major indicators that can be used to ensure that than an autoclave reaches the right temperature: chemical, physical and biological. Understanding how each of these function will minimize your risk of errors.

To ensure optimal performance, autoclaves are tested frequently—typically monthly or every six months. It is vital that you verify the quality of the equipment that you choose to work with before you make your purchase. Take your needs into consideration. The cheapest offers online are rarely ever the best. To get the best result, buy your autoclave from established sources. Before you make a purchase, take some time to review the feedback and qualifications of the source.