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The process of making something free from bacteria or other living microorganisms.

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Sterilisation methods and techniques are widely used in various industries, including healthcare, pharmaceuticals, food processing, and laboratory research.

Here are some common methods of sterilisation:


Autoclaves are devices that use high-pressure steam to achieve sterilisation. The combination of heat and moisture effectively kills microorganisms. Autoclaving is commonly used for laboratory equipment, surgical instruments, and certain medical supplies.

Dry Heat Sterilisation

This method uses dry, hot air to sterilise items. It is suitable for materials that cannot tolerate moisture. It typically requires higher temperatures and longer exposure times compared to autoclaving.

Chemical Sterilisation

Chemical sterilisation involves the use of sterilising chemicals or gases, such as ethylene oxide (EtO), hydrogen peroxide vapor, or peracetic acid. These chemicals kill microorganisms and are commonly used for sterilising heat-sensitive medical equipment and supplies.

Radiation Sterilization

Ionizing radiation, such as gamma rays or electron beams, can be used to sterilise certain products, such as medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and food packaging materials. Radiation disrupts the DNA of microorganisms, rendering them nonviable.


Sterilisation by filtration involves passing liquids or gases through filters with tiny pores that trap and remove microorganisms. This method is used in pharmaceutical manufacturing, biotechnology, and the production of sterile liquids like vaccines.

Ultraviolet (UV) Sterilisation

UV light at specific wavelengths can kill or inactivate microorganisms by damaging their DNA. This method is used in air and water purification systems, as well as in some laboratory applications.

Sterile Filtration

This method involves passing liquids through a sterile filter to remove microorganisms. It is commonly used in pharmaceutical manufacturing and research laboratories.


While not a true sterilisation method, pasteurisation is used to heat liquids and foods to a temperature that kills harmful pathogens without affecting the overall quality of the product. It is widely used in the dairy and beverage industries.

Choice of methods

The choice of method depends on the type of material or product being sterilised, its sensitivity to heat or chemicals, and the desired level of sterility. Validation and monitoring are critical aspects of the process to ensure that it consistently achieves the required level of microbial reduction.

Where is sterilisation used?

Sterilisation is essential in healthcare settings to prevent infections, in the pharmaceutical industry to ensure product safety, in food processing to extend shelf life and improve safety, and in laboratory research to maintain the integrity of experiments and cultures. Proper sterilization techniques help protect public health and maintain product quality.

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