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What Cannot Be Processed in an Autoclave?

June 29th, 2021 in Autoclave Basics and Operation
What Cannot Be Processed in an Autoclave?

When people talk about autoclaves, they often discuss what you put into an autoclave. Things like glass, assuming the glass is Pyrex or a similar glass designed to withstand high temperatures and pressures, and metal—like needles—are fine to go in autoclaves.

What are Things that you Cannot put in an Autoclave?

The list is vast, but we will go over a few of them here:

Liquid in sealed containers: because the liquid will expand with heat and pressure and can break the container.

Anything radioactive.

Anything that could be contaminated by radiation.

Paper can combust inside an autoclave.

Anything containing chlorine or bleach.

Anything acid or base.


Some plastics. Polypropylene can withstand autoclaving, but many plastics cannot and will melt. Talk to your autoclave professional to ask which plastics are okay, and which are not. Usually polystyrene (PS) and polyethylene (PE) are examples of plastics that should not be autoclaved.

Anything combustible, corrosive, or flammable. These are materials that can explode in an autoclave under heat and pressure.

Nothing that touches the interior surfaces of the autoclave. Your specific autoclave will have specific instructions on its use. It is important that nothing touches the interior surfaces so that heat and pressure can circulate freely.

Always learn how to operate your autoclave safely. Autoclaves are used every day all over the world because they are efficient and effective at sterilization. They are, however, not without risk, to yourself and your equipment, so use them carefully, safely, and wisely.

Alpha Scientific supplies, installs, and services medical equipment in western Canada. If you have any questions about this article or would like to talk to us about medical equipment, please call our toll-free number, (888) 818-4847, or email us at sales@alphascientific.ca.