The State of North Carolina under the Sanitary Code requires generators of biohazardous waste to maintain records of temperature and dwell time when wastes are rendered noninfectious by gas or steam sterilization.


All users of the autoclave must take the Online Autoclave Training before doing any autoclave work.

General Information

Autoclaves are instruments that produce superheated steam under very high pressure to sterilize instruments, other media, and even biohazardous waste, making it safe to handle. The following types of material may be autoclaved; Pathogenic plant matter, culture stocks of infectious agents, culture dishes, contaminated solids, discarded live and attenuated vaccines, recombinant DNA, Animal tissue specimens, and cages of potentially pathogenic animals. Items containing solvents, volatile or corrosive chemicals should not be autoclaved. This goes for radioactive material as well. Typical parameters for autoclaving microbiological waste include a temperature of 121° C, at 15 pounds pressure, dwell time of 15-30 minutes depending on the quantity of material being autoclaved.

Operating the Autoclave

When using an autoclave it is important to wear the proper PPE (personal protective equipment) This includes wearing heat and fluid resistant gloves, lab coat, and splash goggles when a splash hazard is present. Sterilization tape must be used in every load to help determine if the autoclave is working properly. This tape should be place near the top of the bog or load, but never used to tape the bag shut. Autoclave bags must remain open during the autoclave process. It is important to remember that when contents of the autoclave are packed too tight or the bag is sealed tight, a proper sterilization temperature may not be reached. Temperature, pressure and dwell time may vary between autoclaves, so it is recommended that you review your manual before you autoclave anything.