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Operator Cleaning and Disinfection


printable fact sheet for operators

What is sterilization?

  • Sterilization is a process that kills all forms of microbial life, including blood-borne viruses such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV and bacterial spores.
  • Critical items must be sterilized between uses. Critical items are equipment that pierces or penetrates the skin or holds sterile items.
  • Instruments must be cleaned before sterilization.

What are approved methods of sterilization?

  • Autoclave (steam under pressure)
    • If using an autoclave it is recommended that it have a drying cycle and be equipped with a print-out of the parameters (pressure, temperature and duration) met during each cycle.
  • Dry heat sterilizer (with a functioning thermometer to verify temperatures).
  • Chemical autoclave.                                   

What are unapproved methods of sterilization?

- Glass-bead
- Ultrasonic cleaner
- Microwave
- Boiling water
-  UV ‘sterilizer’
-  Pressure cookers
-  Oven

How do I use a sterilizer properly?

  • Follow the sterilizer manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Clean instruments thoroughly before sterilization (refer to Region of Peel Cleaning, Disinfection and Sterilization poster).
  • Use a temperature sensitive indicator (e.g. colour change tape or packaging) on every package of equipment being sterilized.
  • Make sure you do not overload the sterilizer.
  • Monitor each cycle to verify the sterilizer is working and record parameters such as temperature, pressure, cycle length and the person operating the sterilizer in the log book.
  • Allow equipment to dry before removing from the autoclave. Contamination can occur if packages are handled when wet.
  • Store sterilized items in their packages, in clean containers with a lid.
  • There should be written back-up plans in the event that the sterilizer malfunctions.

How do I properly monitor my sterilizer?

  1. Biological monitoring (spore test)
    • Must be done:
      1. At least every 14 days  
      2. After two failed temperature sensitive indicator tests
      3. When the manufacturers requirements (temperature, pressure, duration) are not met
      4. When using a new or back up sterilizer (must pass 3 consecutive spore tests before use)
      5. After repairs to the sterilizer
      6. After construction in the sterilizer area or moving the sterilizer
    • Spore tests use heat resistant bacterial spores to determine if the sterilizer is in proper working order.
    • Spore tests must be sent to an accredited laboratory for testing. Test results must be negative, which indicates the sterilizer has killed all of the spores and is in proper working order.
    • Copies of the bi-weekly spore test results must be kept at the premises for at least one year and on-file for five years.
  1. Chemical monitoring (temperature sensitive indicator-TSI)
    • Every instrument/ package must have a TSI for each use of the sterilizer.
    • TSI’s change colour if an adequate temperature has been reached. 
    • Note: this temperature change does not indicate that sterilization has been successful only that the required temperature was met.
    • The TSI must be specific to the type of sterilizer being used.
  1. Physical Monitoring (written records)
    • Records must be kept, every time you use the sterilizer, of the date, temperature, pressure, cycle length and person operating the sterilizer.
    • Records must be kept at the premises for at least one year and on-file for five years.
Error processing SSI file

Error processing SSI file
Error processing SSI file
Error processing SSI file

Revised: Wednesday July 19 2023

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