Environmental Health and Safety


Steam Disinfection

Follow these procedures to help ensure that the waste you are autoclaving is properly disinfected prior to disposal.

  1. To allow for sufficient steam access to or penetration of the waste, the waste shall be:
    1. packaged according to the recommendations provided by the manufacturer; and
    2. loaded into the chamber so as not to exceed the capacity limits as set by the manufacturer.
  2. When subjecting waste to steam under pressure, the temperature in the chamber of the autoclave must reach at least 121 degrees Celsius and there must be at least 15 pounds per square inch gauge pressure for at least thirty minutes.
  3. The autoclave must be operated according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Note: A perforated tray will allow more steam penetration to the waste than a solid walled tray.

Autoclave Safety Video by The National Biosafety and Biocontainment Training Program, The National Institutes of Health and Dartmouth College.


After treatment, follow these procedures for the proper handling of the waste material.

example labelPlace a label on the bag or container stating “treated in accordance with 1.136 of TAC SWFHCRF” (available from EHS 512-471-3511) and place the labeled bag into another sealed bag or container that is a different color and is opaque, e.g., a black trash bag. Then discard into the regular trash.

Record Keeping

All lab personnel who treat and dispose of biological waste must keep records of the treatment. See the Request for Disposal of Biological Waste and Sharps form and the Autoclave Waste Treatment Record form under the forms section.

Autoclave Testing

Most autoclaves used to treat waste must be tested on a regular schedule under Texas regulations. If the autoclave you use requires testing you will be provided a test pack(s) by EHS. The test pack consists of an ampoule containing bacterial spores and media along with a plastic tube which holds the ampoule. Be sure to run the test pack(s) according to the schedule outlined by EHS and in the identified autoclave. Put the test pack in the “coolest” part of the autoclave, normally near the drain, along with a load of waste or other materials. When the autoclave cycle is complete, promptly remove the test pack, open it, push the cap down on the ampoule, and put the ampoule back into the plastic tube. Complete the associated test form and call or e-mail Corina Hernandez for pick-up. Do not leave the test pack in the autoclave for an extended period of time.