The Do's and Don'ts of Autoclaving Laboratory Plasticware

In any laboratory setting, proper sterilization of equipment is essential to ensure accurate and reliable results. Autoclaving is a commonly used method for sterilizing laboratory plasticware, such as beakers, pipettes, and petri dishes. However, to maintain the integrity and functionality of the plasticware, it is crucial to follow specific dos and don'ts when autoclaving. This article will provide you with a comprehensive guide on the best practices for autoclaving laboratory plasticware, helping you achieve optimal sterilization while avoiding potential damage.

Do's of Autoclaving Laboratory Plasticware

1. Selecting the Appropriate Plasticware

Before autoclaving, it is essential to choose plasticware that is suitable for the process. Not all types of plastic can withstand the high temperatures and pressures of autoclaving. Look for plasticware labeled as "autoclavable" or those made from materials like polypropylene (PP) or polyethylene (PE). These materials are known for their resistance to heat and pressure, making them ideal for autoclaving. Read how to choose the right plastic materials for your laboratory application.

2. Preparing the Plasticware for Autoclaving

Proper preparation of plasticware before autoclaving is crucial. Ensure that the items are clean and free from any visible debris. Remove any caps, lids, or closures that may interfere with the steam penetration. It is also advisable to place smaller items, such as pipettes, in autoclavable containers or pouches to prevent them from getting lost or damaged during the process.

3. Loading the Autoclave Correctly

When loading the autoclave, it is important to arrange the plasticware in a way that allows for proper steam circulation. Avoid overcrowding the autoclave chamber, as this can hinder effective sterilization. Leave sufficient space between items to ensure adequate steam contact and heat distribution.

4. Setting the Right Parameters

Each type of plasticware may require specific autoclave parameters, such as temperature and pressure. Consult the manufacturer's instructions or guidelines to determine the appropriate settings for the plasticware you are autoclaving. Set the autoclave parameters accordingly to ensure optimal sterilization without compromising the integrity of the plasticware. Read on the principles and proper use of autoclave.

5. Allowing Sufficient Cooling Time

After the autoclave cycle is complete, resist the temptation to remove the plasticware immediately. Allow sufficient cooling time to avoid thermal shock, which can cause warping or cracking of the plastic. Opening the autoclave prematurely may also expose you to the risk of steam burns. Patience is key to ensuring the longevity of your autoclaved plasticware.


Don'ts of Autoclaving Laboratory Plasticware

1. Using Incompatible Plasticware

Using plasticware that is not designed for autoclaving is a common mistake. Plastics that are not autoclave-safe can melt, deform, or release harmful substances when exposed to high temperatures and pressures. Always check the plasticware's compatibility with autoclaving before proceeding.

2. Overloading the Autoclave

Overloading the autoclave chamber with excessive amounts of plasticware can compromise the sterilization process. It can lead to inadequate steam circulation, resulting in uneven heat distribution and insufficient sterilization. Follow the recommended load capacity of your autoclave to ensure effective sterilization.

3. Neglecting to Release Pressure Properly

After the autoclave cycle is complete, it is crucial to release the pressure inside the chamber before opening it. Failing to do so can cause a sudden release of steam, potentially leading to accidents or injuries. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper pressure release to ensure your safety.

4. Using Excessive Temperature or Pressure

While autoclaving requires high temperatures and pressures, using excessive levels can be detrimental to plasticware. It can lead to warping, melting, or degradation of the material, rendering the plasticware unusable. Stick to the recommended temperature and pressure ranges to maintain the integrity of the plasticware.

5. Removing Hot Plasticware Immediately

Hot plasticware is more susceptible to deformation and damage. Avoid removing the plasticware from the autoclave while it is still hot. Instead, allow it to cool down inside the autoclave or in a designated cooling area. Handling the plasticware when it has reached a safe temperature will prevent accidental burns and maintain its structural integrity.


Autoclaving laboratory plasticware is a crucial step in maintaining a sterile laboratory environment. By following the dos and don'ts outlined in this article, you can ensure effective sterilization while preserving the functionality and longevity of your plasticware. Remember to choose autoclave-safe plasticware, prepare it properly, load the autoclave correctly, set appropriate parameters, and allow sufficient cooling time. By adhering to these guidelines, you can confidently autoclave your laboratory plasticware, knowing that you are minimizing the risk of contamination and obtaining reliable results.

At FC-BIOS, we provide an extensive selection of laboratory plasticware, encompassing a diverse range of materials to suit various scientific applications. Contact us for consultation, as our knowledgeable team of professionals is prepared to guide you throughout the entire process, from beginning to end.