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Page updated 9 October 2006
Ideally instruments and equipment should be removed from the sterilizer at the end of the cycle. They should not left in the sterilizer overnight. If instruments are left overnight in the sterilizer, before they are used you should check the printout to determine if the sterilisation cycle was run and that the correct temperature, pressure and holding time were achieved during the cycle. If the sterilizer does not have a printer or there is any doubt as to whether the cycle was actually run, then re-sterilize the instruments before use.
After the end of the holding period and sterilizing cycle, the steam condenses in the sterilizer chamber, so the load will be wet unless the sterilizer has a drying cycle. Wet instruments can be used directly from the sterilizer (as the water will be sterilized). The sterilized load becomes contaminated with atmospheric bacteria as soon as the chamber door is opened, therefore unwrapped instruments should ideally be used immediately.
Dried instruments can be stored for later use. Microorganisms carried in dust particles in the atmosphere are unlikely to proliferate in dry conditions.