What is Autoclaving And Why It’s Done?


Have your ever noticed how surgeons use the same equipment and tools more than once even without infecting patients? In fact, they use the same surgical tools and this does not let the germs pass from one patient to another. Well, some of you may know that surgeons make use of a kind of cleaning process which is how they succeed in re-using the same equipment over and again.

But, you should know that simple cleaning is not effective in controlling germs and infections to be transmitted between patients. Unless the tools are sterilized, or unless all its organisms are killed, they are not safe for a further round of treatment and surgery. This is where autoclaving helps by sterilizing medical equipment thoroughly and effectively. This task is done using a machine, known as an autoclave.

So, basically autoclaving is about using steam and pressure at a level to stop any microorganism to live or sustain. All the surgical equipment is put into an autoclave, kept there for an extended period and this is how they are sterilized. All germs are thus killed and surgeries are performed over and again using the same set of tools.

How autoclaving works?

We know how important it is to sterilize medical or surgical equipment and keep them ready for further procedures. For hospitals and clinics, autoclaving is a very helpful way to kill germs on equipment and ensure safety to patients. This is how safe and germ-free surgeries are done.

Let’s look how autoclaving works –

  • The working of autoclaves is similar to that of a pressure cooker
  • A sustained round of heat and pressure is applied to kill the germs
  • The autoclave is started and steam is pushed into the chamber to sterilize the equipment
  • Based on the level of steam pushed in, the temperature and pressure goes up in the charmer
  • Steam is pushed till the temperature touches 121 degrees Celsius, or close to 250 degrees Fahrenheit
  • The same temperature is maintained for at least 15 minutes
  • After this period, no germs or spores can survive and this is how the equipment is sterilized

Role of an indicator tape in autoclaving

It’s important to understand how an autoclave indicator tape helps during the process of sterilization. Only then can we understand the whole process a lot better and then can add value to surgeries. For doctors, it’s important to know when the surgical equipment is fully sterilized so that patients are kept away from the risks of germs being passed on.

Here’s how an indicator tape helps in autoclaving –

  • An autoclave tape is used to get a visible indication about equipment being sterilized or autoclaved
  • When exposed to 250°F in steam autoclave for 15 minutes, these tapes show an obvious indication
  • The tape has adhesive that perfectly sticks in condition of high temperature and pressure
  • They are easy to remove and they don’t leave behind any sticky residue
  • They give a clear-cut indication of sterilization under temperatures set in the autoclave