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Some of the Different Types of Sterilization Methods and Their Advantages

In our industry companies it’s important to have a variety of sterilization methods in order to accommodate a broad range of products and equipment including different devices, media, medical instruments and products.

In the medical and health care industries, there are few things more important than proper sterilization.  There is a proper way to sterilize for each element of the pharmaceutical and health care industries.  This is true for medical equipment, medical devices and pharmaceutical drugs, implants and injectable vaccinations.

Really, if it’s in a medical or pharmaceutical facility, and it comes anywhere near a patient, chances are it undergoes some kind of sterilization.  There are several different types of sterilization used for these purposes.

Most commonly, heat is used to sterilize these products to achieve a SAL of 10-6. There are two distinctive types of heat-based sterilization: Moist Heat Sterilization and Dry Heat Sterilization.

Moist Heat Sterilization – This type of sterilization uses moisture, water-vapor or steam at high temperatures.  Moist heat steam sterilization is achieved in an autoclave, an enclosed device that sterilizes products with pressurized steam.   Typically, autoclaves are the preferred method of moist heat sterilization.

Advantages – The penetrating nature of steam and high lethality due to its efficient heat transfer properties makes it a great solution to destroy proteins in any microorganism after a certain amount of time.  It is environmentally safe having no toxic by-products. It has a long and proven track record of success and safety.

Dry Heat Sterilization – Dry heat sterilization is typically achieved through methods such as using a hot air oven.  The most commonly seen method of dry heat sterilization in the medical and pharmaceutical industry is the hot air oven method.

Advantages– Dry heat sterilization is preferred for heat stable products that are sensitive to moisture. Depyrogenation, a form of dry heat sterilization, is the preferred method for certifying critical manufacturing components (e.g. glassware) as endotoxin free. It is a useful alternative for heat stable materials when water or steam can otherwise not be used.

Liquid Chemical Sterilization – This form of sterilization is typically used for devices, instruments and tools that are heat sensitive but not liquid sensitive.  The object in need of sterilization is immersed in the sterilizing liquid for a set amount of time and then undergoes sterilization validation in order to assess whether it has been fully sterilized. Peracetic Acid, Glutaraldehyde or combination products are used for this process.  Care must be taken to properly clean off these chemicals.

Advantages – Liquid Chemical Sterilization is extremely effective at killing vegetative organisms and spores.


These are just a few types of potential sterilization procedures that can be used by a pharmaceutical or medical device companies.  There are a few other popular modalities, including gas and radiation sterilization.  These forms of sterilization are also long proven to inadequately destroy living organisms but can also be quite dangerous to people and the environment.

Choose Prince Sterilization Services for moist heat steam sterilization

At Prince Sterilization Services, we have a full, comprehensive understanding of the appropriate sterilization procedures including moist heat steam and dry heat sterilization and depyrogenation.

Count on Prince Sterilization Services to know what kind of sterilization is right for each product.  Contact us today by phone at 877.315.5847 to find out how you can benefit from our sterilization services and more.

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