One of the most frequently asked questions TOMY receives about autoclave cycles is, “How long does it take to fully sterilize at specific temperatures?” The duration of autoclaving is crucial to ensuring that the autoclave materials are thoroughly sterilized, making it an important consideration for researchers, clinicians, and professionals in laboratory settings. Unfortunately, when it comes to autoclaving laboratory equipment, the answer isn’t as simple as a one-size-fits-all solution.

In this article, we will shed light on autoclaving hold times and share some recommended holding times at various temperatures. We will draw insights from authoritative sources, such as the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Biosafety Manual and the National Public Health Agency of the United States, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to provide guidelines on how long you should autoclave your load for optimal sterilization. Let’s dive into this crucial aspect of laboratory practice and gain a deeper understanding of the precise timing required for successful sterilizing laboratory equipment in an autoclave.

Even though there is no one-size-fits-all approach and all autoclave loads require special attention, according to the “WHO Laboratory biosafety manual, 3rd Edition” the following cycles will generally ensure sterilization of correctly loaded autoclaves:

WHO further discussed how materials should be loaded into steam autoclaves. They state “All materials to be autoclaved should be in containers that allow ready removal of air and permit good heat penetration; the chamber should be loosely packed so
that steam will reach the load evenly“ (WHO Laboratory biosafety manual, 3rd Edition).

The CDC further emphasizes that each autoclave load requires a unique holding time. As an example of a situation where a longer hold time is necessary, the CDC states that decontaminating 10 lbs of microbiological waste necessitates at least 45 minutes at 121 °C. This extended time is due to the presence of trapped air within the autoclave load, which significantly hinders the penetration of steam and the uniform heating of the materials.

TOMY’s Recommended Approach:

To address the intricate challenge of precise timing in autoclaving, TOMY introduces the External Temperature Sensor Probe. Seamlessly integrated into our SX-500 and SX-700 autoclave systems, this probe is designed to ensure that materials meet the temperature requirements for the necessary duration. It’s a solution tailored to the varied individual demands of each laboratory application.

TOMY SX-series autoclaves with installed External Temperature Sensor Probes offer the ability to digitally display the temperature of the materials being sterilized, rather than merely the overall chamber temperature. The External Temperature Sensor Probes also help solve the problem of Heat Transfer Time lag!

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