How do you use an autoclave?

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At Sychem, we specialise in autoclaves for use in a variety of industries, but how do you actually operate an autoclave?

First of all, an empty chamber cycle should be undertaken to warm up the chamber and remove any condensate from the pipes. In turn, this cycle run will also ensure that the whole chamber and door(s) are at maximum working temperature. If at any time the steriliser has stood for a length of time (dictated by local policy), a warm-up cycle should be conducted. 

A successful Bowie-Dick type test for steam penetration is designed to demonstrate that all air has been removed from the chamber and that the steam supply does not contain condensable gases. The test should be carried out daily and the result recorded in the steriliser logbook. The prepared test pack is placed in the empty sterilizer chamber 100 to 200mm above the centre of the chamber base (as per HTM 2010-part 3 guidance), and the cycle started.

On completion, you should check the test sheet and confirm and record the result with a line manager in accordance with local policy. If satisfactory, the machine can be put into use.

After the above is complete, you can then open the chamber door.

Load the steriliser by inserting the loaded carriage into the chamber. For smaller machines, it may be necessary to manually load. Sterilisers work more efficiently with a full load- note however, chambers should not be overloaded. The most substantial items in a load should be situated on the lowest shelf of the carriage to facilitate the process as it eliminates the possibility of any run-off of condensate on to packs/trays below.

Then you can close the door and start the cycle.

An indicator light or the printer paper will denote a pass or fail cycle, proceed according to local policy. The door can be opened, and the load removed. The door should be closed as soon as the chamber is emptied as this will conserve energy and maintain the chamber temperature for the next load.

For further information on the range of autoclaves Sychem has available for Healthcare, Life Sciences and Laboratory applications visit our Autoclaves page. Alternatively, for advice and guidance on which Autoclave product is best for your application, get in touch with a member of our specialist team by calling 0845 644 6824, or emailing us at [email protected], and we’ll be happy to help.

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