What is a sterilization pouch and what is it used for?
A sterilization pouch is a type of disposable use in conjunction with a sterilizing device, such as an autoclave, to safely and effectively sterilize precision equipment that must be kept clean and free of contamination. The most common users of use these sterilization pouches for their tools are dental professionals, nail technicians, tattoo artists, beauticians and scientific laboratories workers.
A sterilization pouch consists of two main parts - the medical grade paper and a type of plastic film held together with adhesive. Most sterilization pouches have a built-in adhesive at the opening to properly close and seal the pouch before putting in the sterilization device.
Please note that not all items are designed to be sterilized. For example, disposable items in a beauty salon, including nail files, should not be put into a sterilization pouch and sterilized. Please consult individual product instructions to ensure that items are suitable to be sterilized.
See our selection of Primo's Self Seal Sterilization Pouches in Multiple Sizes!
Types of Sterilization Methods
Per the CDC, there are three main methods to ensure proper sterilization.
- Steam autoclave: This is the most common method of sterilization. Most self sealing sterilization pouches are breathable and allow for steam to penetrate to properly sterilize your tools.
- Unsaturated chemical vapor: This is another popular method of sterilization that allows for vapors to precipitate on contents. Vapors should not react with packaging material.
- Dry heat: The dry heat sterilization method should not insulate items from heat and sterilization packaging should be able to withstand the high sterilizing temperatures. Note that sterilization pouches are not suitable for dry heat sterilization because the paper and plastic are not designed for these high temperatures. Improper use of self sealing sterilization pouches will result in the pouches melting. The sterilization packaging should be made of the one of the following materials: paper bags, aluminum foil, polyfilm plastic tubing or wrapped perforated cassettes
How To Use A Sterilization Pouch
Carefully insert items to be sterilized into the pouch and seal securely. When using multiple pouches in sterilizer make sure the plastic side of the pouch always faces the paper side of the adjacent pouch.
- Place the pouches in your choice of sterilization device. When possible, use a pouch rack to eliminate the stacking of the pouches. Make sure that your sterilization pouches are dry upon removal from the sterilization device
Upon removal, please ensure that your items have been sterilized. Most sterilization pouches will have indicators on the paper side that will change once the bag has been sterilized. Our Primo Self Seal Sterilization pouches have a variety of indicators on the bag to indicate proper sterilization. The Triple-Check™ blue indicator will turn dark green when sterilized by steam. The Triple-Check™ pink indicator will turn yellow when sterilized by ETO. These indicators are “process” indicators, and should be used with biological indicators to verify sterilization.
- Note that all sterilization pouches should be stored in a cool (59 °F - 85 °F) and dry (40-70% humidity) environment. Items stored and sterilized in a Primo Pouch will be sterile for up to 1 year unless the pouch becomes wet, is opened, or is damaged.
Do Sterilization Pouches Expire?
Sterilization pouches should be stored in a cool, dry place to ensure that the sterilization pouches are protected from light and humidity. When storing your sterilized items after they have been prepared for use, keep them inside of their respective original packaging so as to protect them from contaminating other surfaces or objects. Depending on the manufacturer, sterilization pouches can be safely used for two to five years from the manufacturer date. Always look on the box for the expiration date to ensure the sterilization pouches are usable.
Can You Reuse Sterilization Pouches?
Sterilization pouches should not be used more than once. These pouches are designed as single-use. Once a sterilization pouch has been used, it cannot be used again and will not keep the item inside of it sterile when put back into an autoclave. If used again, there is no guarantee that the item will be safe or sterile to use. A common and easy to remember rule is that once an item has been sterilized inside a sterilization pouch and has been open, the item is not sterile anymore and the bag should be thrown away.
How to Use Sterilization Pouches In Autoclave?
Sterilization pouches are very simple to use. Just place the item inside of a sterilization pouch and seal it up with the autoclave machine. When sealing, make sure that there is no air in between the two layers of plastic before putting it into an autoclave machine because this will affect how long it takes for the item to be fully sterilized. Sterilizing items should only take around 15 minutes or follow the instructions provided by the sterilization pouch manufacturer. It is important to follow the autoclave instructions and to identify indicators on the pouch themselves to signify that the pouches and their contents have been sterilized.
Are Dental Sterilization Pouches Recyclable?
Dental sterilization pouches are not recyclable. Sterilization pouches are typically used for sterilizing items that will come in contact with human skin or bodily fluids. This includes needles and medical tools, as well as clean room clothing (lab coats) and gloves. Similar to other medical supplies, they should be thrown out and not recycled. Please follow all local instructions and regulations around disposing of medical waste to ensure compliance.