Skip to Main Content
CWRU Links
Environmental Health and Safety

Decontamination Methods

Decontamination Methods

Sterilization by Autoclave

Items that are sterilized in an autoclave are not considered sterilized unless the sterilizer complies with state regulations. CWRU often asks that material be sterilized in an autoclave to make them safer for staff to handle. After the material has been sterilized, bags should be placed in secondary containment (large biohazard bin, second bag, spill tray, etc.) to ensure that containers do not leak on floors. These wastes are still considered infectious wastes.

The bags must be autoclaved for the safety of the custodial workers. Autoclave tape or some other indicator must be used to show that the bag was sterilized. Overpack the autoclaved soft waste bag in a fresh biohazard bag.

Biohazardous soft waste can be placed in a biohazardous sharps container if desired.

San I Pak

Custodial Services has an industrial-sized autoclave that can sterilize large amounts of infectious material at once. This unit is operated to meet all requirements as a sterilization unit by the State of Ohio. Materials sterilized in this unit may be disposed of a solid waste. Appropriate documentation must accompany the waste to the transfer station and then the solid waste landfill. Solid infectious wastes (animal carcasses and solid tissues) might not be sterilized completely by an autoclave. These items should be packed up for incineration after autoclaving to make the item safer to handle.

Shipment Off Campus for Destruction

Items that cannot or should not be sterilized using chemical treatment or an autoclave need to be packed in an infectious waste container from removal. These items will be packed up for shipment off site for destruction by incineration. Some form of surface sterilization should be performed in the lab to make the items safer for Custodial Services Personnel to handle.

An autoclave indicator such as autoclave tape must be used to show that the inner bag has been sterilized. Items that cannot be sterilized—or for other reasons need to be destroyed—can be packed into an infectious waste shipping container for destruction by incineration. These items will be shipped off campus for destruction in an infectious waste incinerator.

After the material has been sterilized, bags should be placed in secondary containment (large biohazard bin, second bag, spill tray, etc) to ensure that containers do not leak on floors.

What if a biohazardous material is thrown into a regular trash or other waste container?

The contents are now all considered to be a biohazardous waste and should be treated as a biohazardous waste. Follow the following procedure:

  1. Do not remove the biohazardous items from the container;
  2. The container can be relabeled as a biohazardous waste by adding a biohazard label;
  3. The contents can also be transferred into a biohazardous waste container; and
  4. The container can be returned to its original use once the container has been decontaminated.