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SOP for Autoclave Sterilization- Detailed Procedure

SOP for Autoclave Sterilization: Discover the essential SOP for autoclave sterilization, ensuring effective decontamination in pharmaceutical and laboratory settings. This guide covers preparation, operation, monitoring, and verification steps to achieve optimal sterilization results, adhering to safety and regulatory standards.

SOP for Autoclave Sterilization- Detailed Procedure
SOP for Autoclave Sterilization- Detailed Procedure

SOP for Autoclave Sterilization- Detailed Procedure

Purpose- SOP for Autoclave Sterilization

This SOP for Autoclave Sterilization is aimed at specifying the procedures that need to be followed to ensure the proper and safe sterilization of materials using an autoclave. 

Autoclaving sterilization is an important process in pharmaceutical sciences, genetic toxicology, pharmacognosy, and pharmacology for the decontamination of biological waste, sterilization of media, glassware, and other items. 

This SOP for Autoclave Sterilization is designed to promote the reproducibility of sterilization procedures, compliance with regulatory standards, and safety of personnel and the environment from biological hazards.

Scope-SOP for Autoclave Sterilization

This SOP for Autoclave Sterilization applies to all personnel who sterilize materials using autoclave equipment in the laboratory. It includes the preparation of materials for autoclaving, the autoclave operation, and the post-sterilization handling of materials.

  1. Responsibilities
    • Laboratory Personnel: Responsible for following this SOP for Autoclave Sterilization strictly and ensuring that all materials are appropriately prepared and processed.
    • Laboratory Supervisor/Manager: Responsible for ensuring compliance with this SOP for Autoclave Sterilization, training personnel on the autoclave operation, and maintaining autoclave equipment in good working condition.
  2. Materials and Equipment
    • Autoclave machine
    • Biological indicators (e.g., Geobacillus stearothermophilus spore vials)
    • Chemical indicators (autoclave tape, indicator strips)
    • Autoclavable bags and containers
    • Personal protective equipment (PPE): heat-resistant gloves, lab coat, safety goggles

Procedure- SOP for Autoclave Sterilization

Materials Preparation for Autoclaving

  1. Make sure that all materials to be autoclaved are compatible with high-pressure steam sterilization.
  2. Before wrapping or placing clean items in autoclavable bags or containers, clean them thoroughly. For glassware and instruments, make sure there are no chemical residues.
  3. Autoclavable bags should be used for biological waste and should not be more than two-thirds full.
  4. To prevent pressure buildup, loosely cap bottles and wrap items in autoclave paper or place them in autoclave trays.
  5. Mark all items with autoclave tape that turns color when the sterilization cycle is over.
  6. Monitor the sterilization process using biological and chemical indicators. Locate biological indicators in the most difficult areas for steam to penetrate.

Operating the Autoclave- SOP for Autoclave Sterilization

  1. Ensure that the autoclave chamber and drain strainer are clean. Clean out any debris that may impede steam flow.
  2. Load the autoclave with bags that are not compressed and steam can freely circulate around the items. Do not overload.
  3. Choose the right cycle for the materials being sterilized (for instance, liquid, solid). The standard sterilization parameters are 121°C for 15-20 minutes at 15 psi for most materials.
  4. Lock the door of the autoclave and start the cycle.
  5. Observe the autoclave during the cycle. Mark any malfunctions or deviations from normal operating parameters.
  6. At the end of the cycle, let the autoclave depressurize and cool down before opening the door. This prevents sudden pressure changes that may lead to container breakage or steam burns.

Post-Sterilization Handling

  1. Take out the items from the autoclave with heat-resistant gloves. Ensure the cycle was successful by checking the autoclave tape or indicators.
  2. Cool items before further handling to avoid heat injuries.
  3. Incubate biological indicators as per the manufacturer’s instructions. To confirm that there is no growth after the incubation period, this is to ensure that the sterilization cycle was successful.
  4. Record the autoclave cycle with date, cycle parameters, operator name and results of biological and chemical indicators.
  5. Inform the laboratory supervisor/manager about any anomalies or failures in the sterilization process.

Safety Precautions

  1. Wear the right PPE whenever you are operating the autoclave and handling sterilized or potentially contaminated materials.
  2. Do not try to open the autoclave while under pressure or right after the cycle is over to prevent steam burns.
  3. Be aware of the heat-related injuries and treat all items with care.
  4. Make sure that all waste materials are properly contained

Maintenance and Troubleshooting

  1. Carry out routine maintenance checks on the autoclave to ensure that it is in good working condition. This involves checking seals, gaskets, and the drain strainer.
  2. Resolve typical problems like incomplete sterilization cycles, strange sounds, or leaks by referring to the manufacturer’s manual and seeking advice from a qualified technician.
  3. Maintain a record of all maintenance and troubleshooting activities performed.

References and Regulatory Compliance

  1. For specific operating instructions and troubleshooting, consult the autoclave manufacturer’s manual.
  2. Follow the local and international guidelines for sterilization in laboratories, such as those from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  3. Comply with biosafety and waste management laws that are relevant to your jurisdiction.

Autoclave Sterilization Form

Institution Name:

  • [Institution Name Here]


  • [Department Here]


  • [MM/DD/YYYY]

Operator Name:

  • [Operator’s Full Name]

Autoclave Unit ID:

  • [Unique Identifier or Location of Autoclave]

Cycle Number:

  • [Cycle Number for the Day]

Load Information

Load Description:

  • [Detailed Description of Items Being Sterilized]

Load Quantity:

  • [Number of Items]

Load Type:

  • [Instruments, Media, Waste, etc.]

Container Type:

  • [Type of Container or Packaging Used]

Cycle Parameters

Cycle Type:

  • [Gravity, Vacuum, Liquid, etc.]


  • [Temperature in °C]


  • [Pressure in PSI]

Sterilization Time:

  • [Time in Minutes]

Drying Time (if applicable):

  • [Time in Minutes]

Pre- and Post-Cycle Checks

Pre-cycle Check:

  • Seal Integrity
  • Load Configuration
  • Chemical Indicator Placement

Post-cycle Check:

  • Physical Inspection of Load
  • Chemical Indicator Result
  • Biological Indicator Result (if used)

Results and Observations

Cycle Completion:

  • Successful
  • Unsuccessful


  • [Any anomalies, deviations, or failures observed during or after the cycle]


Operator Signature:

  • [Signature]

Supervisor/Quality Assurance Signature:

  • [Signature for verification and approval]


  • [Additional comments or actions taken]


  • Ensure all entries are accurate and reflect the specifics of each autoclave cycle.
  • Retain the completed forms as part of your quality documentation system for a period specified by regulatory authorities.
  • This form can be adapted to fit the specific needs and requirements of different institutions or regulatory guidelines.

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