Autoclave Information

Helpful Hints for Autoclaving Success

  • Use a tray or bin to put your materials in when autoclaving them.   If agar boils over, the liquid will end up in the tray, not on the bottom of the autoclave (where it will clog up the drains).   Trays or bins are also good for supporting autoclave bags.
  •  Autoclave bags:   prior to autoclaving, add 100-200 mL water to the bag and then loosely close it.   This will help generate steam inside the bag, which will greatly aid in destroying microorganisms.
  • Don’t fill bottles or tubes more than 2/3 full to prevent boil-overs.
  • Keep lids and caps loosely closed.   Tightly sealed bottles may explode.
  •  Use only Type I borosilicate glass (Pyrex) or autoclavable plastic containers.   Do not use old food jars (peanut butter, pickles…) to autoclave materials because they will break under autoclave conditions.
  • Autoclave your materials for the correct time period (see Autoclaving Fact Sheet for more information).  
  • Be sure to close the door tightly.   If the door is not closed tightly, steam will leak from around the door and the autoclave will make screaming noises.   If this happens, abort the cycle (reset the autoclave), tighten the door, and try again.
  • Do not open the door until the pressure is down to 0 psi.   When you open the door, only open it about one inch at first—this helps ensure that you won’t get blasted with steam.
  • The door of the autoclave was not meant to hang open (it is hard on the hinges).   So, when you are finished using the autoclave, please reseat the door.


What is the purpose of an autoclave?

Why do I need a slow exhaust when I autoclave liquids?

Why do I have to wait 10 minutes before unloading the autoclave and starting another cycle?

How full can I fill my tubes and bottles?

What do I do if something breaks or shatters, or if I make a mess in the autoclave?

Who can I call if I have other questions?

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