Definition of an Electric Steam Steriliser

An Autoclave Provides an Easy Solution for Decontaminating

An autoclave, or steam sterilizer, works by using a combination of high temperature steam and pressure as part of a sterilization process with the aim of the complete destruction and/or removal of all micro-organisms including spores.

What is sterilization?

Small steam sterilizers are widely used for medical purposes as part of a wider decontamination and disinfection process that is designed to render a re-usable instrument safe for use. In addition to the more obvious uses such as in general medical practices, dentistry, and veterinary, they are also used for materials and equipment which are likely to come into contact with blood or body fluids. This includes implements used by tattooists, body piercers, beauty therapists and even in hairdressing and beauty.

An autoclave, or steam steriliser, is also used in microbiology to sterilize liquids and media and is therefore found in the school biology laboratory in addition to the food, drink, dairy and pharmaceutical industries.

When deciding what type of autoclave to choose, the technician will need to consider the type of loads it is to be used for. There are specific validation and performance requirements for different types and the device manufacturer will advise you of what is appropriate – for example, if you wish to bag instruments prior to autoclaving, then you will need a ‘B’ class vacuum autoclave. An autoclave definition of the different types and their intended use taken from the European Standard for small steam sterilizers is given in the table below:

Small steam sterilizers (BS EN 13060)


Description of intended use

B The sterilization of all wrapped or non-wrapped, solid,


hollow load products type A and porous products as represented by the test loads.
N The sterilization of non-wrapped, solid products.
S The sterilization of products as specified by the manufacturer of the sterilizer including non-wrapped,


solid products and at least one of the following: porous products, small porous items,


hollow load products type A and B, single wrapped products, multiple layer wrapped products.