6 Laboratory Sterilization Methods

Laboratory Sterilization Methods

A clean and sterile laboratory environment is essential for a field like microbiology. When you are working with microscopic things, even the smallest of things can affect your experimentation, whether you are culturing cells or working with genetic structures.

That is why today, we will be looking at some laboratory sterilization methods that ensure a clean lab that will never mess with your experiments

Common Laboratory Sterilization Methods [1]

1. Wet Heat (Autoclaving)

Wet heat is one of the most common methods for lab sterilization. It is a method where pressurized steam is used. This steam is heated to a very high temperature that kills most bacteria, spores, viruses, and such. But that’s not the case for all contaminants. Sometimes, extra high temperatures are required for special microbes.

The autoclaving process that kills microbes is known as hydrolysis. This process breaks down the cellular protein that holds microbes together.

2. Dry Heat (Flaming, Baking)

Dry heat is, as the name suggests, a sterilization process that does not involve water. So, hydrolysis can’t take place. Dry heat sterilization uses flaming or baking to kill off bacteria.

Instead, the process breaks down the cellular structure of a microbe by the process of oxidation. Dry heat also works at a higher temperature than wet heat.

Flaming works simply by holding the contaminated object over an open flame. On the other hand, baking works by placing, say, Erlenmeyer flasks inside an area with a high ambient temperature.

3. Filtration

Filtration mainly works for liquid and soft solids, but it is a very effective solution to sterilize contaminated objects without applying heat to them. These solutions are passed through specialized sintered glass funnels with small pores that don’t allow microbes to go through.

But it has to be remembered that filtration isn’t the most efficient sterilization option as viruses and phages are known to pass through when using this method. So, if you are looking for the absolute best kind of sterilization option, then you should look to other methods.

4. Solvents

It is commonly known that a solvent like ethanol is used as a disinfectant. But another, more efficient solvent known as isopropyl is considered much more effective. These solvents are combined with water to dilute and then are applied to the contaminated area to remove the microbes.

But it should be remembered that this method isn’t too effective when trying to clean spores.

5. Radiation

Radiation has become a very popular option for sterilization. The most popular kinds of radiation sterilization are UV rays, x-rays, and the most common, which is gamma rays. Radiation is one of the most effective methods of sterilization because of the damaging effect that it can have.

Radiation works by disrupting and breaking the DNA of the microbes. And the particular kind of radiation used depends on the level of sterilization required. Gamma rays, in this sense, are the most damaging because they are the most penetrative and have the most damaging effect on microbes.

6. Gas Sterilization

Gas sterilization is the last one on this list, and it is mainly used to sterilize catheters, stents, and other medical equipment. The main gas that is used in this kind of sterilization is called Ethylene Oxide. This gas does not let cell metabolism happen, which further prevents cell multiplication.

But this method is also used sparingly because of how toxic it can be if used improperly.

To Wrap Up

So, these are the most common and popular methods of sterilization used to sterilize equipment such as test tubes, 125ml Erlenmeyer Flasks, tools, and such.

Are you looking to buy molecular biology equipment for your laboratory? Check out MBP Inc’s inventory. We have all sorts of equipment, from test tubes to Erlenmeyer flasks, deep well plates, and much more.


[1] [Online]. Available:


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