Autoclave Cycles

  • To be effective, the autoclave must reach and maintain a temperature of 121° C for at least 30 minutes by using saturated steam under at least 15 psi of pressure. Increased cycle time may be necessary depending upon the make-up and volume of the load.
  • The rate of exhaust will depend upon the nature of the load. Dry material can be treated in a fast exhaust cycle, while liquids and biological waste require slow exhaust to prevent boiling over of super-heated liquids.


Recommended for:


Liquids cycle


(Slow Exhaust)

Use with glass containers with vented closures; 2/3 full only

•Liquid media

•Nonflammable liquids

•Aqueous solutions

•Liquid biological waste


Solids or Dry cycle


(Fast Exhaust)

  • Glassware: empty and inverted
  • no tight or impermeable closures
  • Dry hard items, either unwrapped or in porous wrap
  • Metal items with porous parts
  • Other porous materials

Wrapped Goods or Pre vacuum cycle


(Clean: Fast Exhaust

Dirty: Slow Exhaust)

  • Glassware that must be sterilized upright and/or can trap air
  • Wrapped dry items that can trap air
  • Pipette tip boxes
  • Sharps decontamination
  • (in collection containers)
  • Biohazard waste decontamination, in autoclave bags; can be wet or dry


Meagan Fitzpatrick
Biosafety Officer

Halina Staniszewska,
Sr. Lab Safety Specialist