What are autoclave bags?

use of autoclave bags

Have you ever been to a microbiology laboratory and observed a cylindrical sterilization instrument called an autoclave? The basic principle behind an autoclave is to expose the items to direct steam at a particular temperature and pressure for a specific time duration. Autoclaving is incomplete without autoclave bags. Autoclave bags are considered a gem discovered in the field of science. The use of autoclave bags is for high heat sterilization. Autoclave deals with steam (temperature), pressure, and time all at once. Autoclave helps in killing spores and microorganisms at high temperatures and pressures. They are also utilized to sterilize biological wastes, culture media and microbiology instruments. A lot of viruses, bacteria, and other impurities are found in medical wastes and have to be autoclaved before disposal.

The method of steam sterilization is known as autoclaving.


To begin with, an autoclave is a specialized sealed heating device that generates high heat, vacuum, and pressure to sterilize various materials. Hot air is blown through the chamber which dries the materials. There are different types of autoclave runs based on the types of materials to be sterilized. They can be liquid runs, dry goods with vacuum runs or even dry goods without vacuum runs.

The process of drying goods particularly with the vacuum moves steam and heat into the great parts of large autoclave bags that turn out to be the best conditions for destroying microorganisms. The autoclave chamber is exposed to pressure with steam (121°C) for 10-15 minutes. This is further followed by a small vacuum cycle. The special process of drying goods without a vacuum tends to pressurise the chamber with steam for the duration of the cycle before returning to normal.


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Types of autoclave bags

Different types of autoclaves make use of different types of autoclave bags. They are made up of different materials like polypropylene bags, nylon bags etc. The bags can be transparent or red in colour. The type of material chosen as autoclave bags should be appropriate since a lot of plastic materials tend to melt in the chamber. Usually, these bags are tear-resistant. Autoclave bags usually have a symbol of biohazard on them, this indicates the possible risk if the correct temperature, pressure and time are not monitored. Usually, the red/orange coloured polyethene bags have specifically a tough puncture resistant nature along with flexibility. 

Use of autoclave bags

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Following are the applications of autoclave bags-

  1. Schools and research laboratories require autoclave bags for the process of sterilization is extremely decisive because it helps to keep the autoclave free of pathogens that can cause contamination.
  2. Disposal of medical wastes which may have infectious bacteria.

What are the advantages of using autoclave bags?

There are many autoclave bags that can suit the user’s preferences. There are some bags that have openings that allow steam to enter when the temperature is increased. The autoclave bags are  particularly inoculated with a  special dye that changes the shade when the temperature that is ideal to sterilize has been attained.

What types of items should never be placed in autoclave bags?

To conclude, materials that are highly volatile are strictly prohibited. Items that are made up of radioactive material or any other material that could contain radioactive elements inside the autoclave. This summarizes well the use of autoclave bags in microbiology laboratories.

Pro tip- Don’t overload the autoclave bags or pack them too tightly.

Adiós microbiologists! Enjoy reading more about- Microbiology Archives – My Biology Dictionary

Team MBD

1 Response

  1. Very much informative.

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