Koch Lab:Protocols/How to Clean the Autoclave

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A very dirty autoclave

Like any piece of equipment, the autoclave needs to be cleaned every so often. In addition to daily maintenance we should strive to clean the autoclave every week. When we clean out the autoclave, we use Chamber Brite, a cleaner manufactured by Tuttnauer, the makers of our autoclave. The whole process takes about an hour and a half from start to finish. Remember, when you are cleaning out the autoclave, you never want to stop the process halfway through resulting in an incomplete cleaning.

How to Clean the Autoclave

Chamber Brite
How to drain the water out of the reservoir
  • IMPORTANT: while you are cleaning the autoclave follow these steps without interruption. An interruption would not clean the autoclave effectively and waste your time.


  1. When the autoclave chamber is cold, remove the instruments and trays from the autoclave chamber, and put them in a safe place out of the way.
  2. Spread the contents of a packet of the cleaner, Chamber Brite Autoclave Cleaner, in a straight even line along the bottom of the chamber.
  3. Start a sterilization cycle with water and no drying cycle. To do this:
    • Turn green switch to "Start"
    • Turn the bottom nob to "Fill Water"
    • Wait until the water reaches the lip at the front of the autoclave.
    • Turn the bottom nob to "STE" for sterilization and close the door.
    • Set the temperature to 273°F (134°C) and the timer to 30 mins.
    • The timer will ding after the cycle has ran to completion, at this point you do not want to dry the "samples" so:
    • Immediately turn the bottom nob to "EXH+DRY" and wait for the pressure to reach 0 psi.
    • Turn the bottom nob to "0" and open the door slowly to release pressure.
    • For a more detailed explanation of these steps, consult How to Autoclave.
  4. Drain the water out of the reservoir with by turning the valve on the lower left corner of the interior of the door counter-clockwise to the open position. Turn it clockwise to the closed position when you are done.
  5. Replace the water in the reservoir with fresh DI water.
  6. Repeat the sterilization process from step 3 again, without any of the cleaner.
  7. After the sterilization cycle, drain the water from the reservoir again.
  8. Turn the autoclave off and allow the chamber to cool.
  9. Remove the tray holder; wipe the interior of the chamber with a damp cloth.
  10. Fill the reservoir again with DI water.
  11. Turn the fill knob to the fill position. Allow a small amount of water to fill in, enough to ensure that it is properly working. Remove the water, and the autoclave is good to go.

A less detailed step-by-step procedure to clean out the autoclave is included on the inside of the top flap of the box containing the cleaner. It can also be found on page 28 of the manual for the autoclave.