| FAQ - Sterilization - Archived Through 2012
I work in a dental office and recently had a question come up with regard to sterilization. When autoclaving instruments in plastic and paper pouches, which side should be up?
According to the authors of Infection Control & Management of Hazardous Materials for the Dental Team, one should load the sterilizer as instructed by the manufacturer and keep packs, pouches, or cassettes separated from each other so that steam has access to all package surfaces. One should place items on their edges. Some sterilizers come with racks for packages that keep them separated and on their edge. One should not stack packages, pouches, or cassettes flat in layers as stacking impedes steam circulation and air removal in the chamber. (1)
Whenever possible, it is best to place packages on their edges. However, in a steam sterilizer, if paper/poly packages must be placed flat in a single layer, place them paper side down. Placing paper/poly packaging plastic side down may cause condensate to pool inside the pouch resulting in a wet pack.
1) Infection Control & Management of Hazardous Materials, 3rd. Edition. By Miller and Palenik.
Elsevier Mosby Publishers. Copyright 2005.