Sterilization methods

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Sterilization methods

Following Table represent certain important aspect of different type of sterilization method in comparative manner:





Dry heat sterilization (1-3)

Hot air free form water vapour.

Process is accomplished by conduction. Heat is absorbed by exterior surface of the item and passes inward creating a uniform temperature and a sterile condition. Coagulation of proteins causes the death of microbes.

Powders, heat stable items, steel, glass wares etc.

Moist heat sterilization (1,2,4)

Hot air heavily loaded with water vapour which plays an important role in sterilization.

Water vapour generated by boiling water has high penetrating power.this destroys the microbes by causing coagulation of proteins and also causes oxidative free radical damage.

Microbial cultures, liquids, glass wares

Chemical sterilization (2,5)

Ethylene oxide, formaldehyde, chlorine dioxide, ozone.

Ethylene penetrates through paper, cloth, plastic and can kill all known viruses, bacteria, fungi and even spores. Ozone has the ability of oxidizing most organic matter.

Biological materials, fibre optics, electronics, and many plastics.

Radiation sterilization (5,6)

Radiations such as electron beams, x-rays, gamma rays or subatomic particles.

They have very high penetrating power and are very effective in killing microbes.

Syringes, needles, cannulas, air, plastics, heat labile materials.

Filtration (1)

Filter made of different materials such as nitrocellulose or polyethersulfone.

Bacteria are removed effectively removed through a pore size of 0.2mm and for viruses a pore size of around 20nm is required.

Sensitive pharmaceuticals and protein solutions.

Figures (one general example):







  1. Remington- The science and practice of pharmacy, Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. Philadelphia. 21st ed, 2005: 776-780.
  2. Swarbrick J. Encyclopedia of pharmaceutical technology, Informa Healthcare, London. Vol 6, 3 rd Ed: 3512-40.

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About the Author

Amol Malpani's picture
Author: Amol Malpani


Uma Pratyusha's picture

sir this is really helpful for us i have just recalled my 2.2 sem thank you sir Regards,


Uma Prathyusha

Amol Malpani's picture

Dear Uma, Just wait a while I will also add up some more interesting things in the pages which are definitely helpful to you. Regards,
V.B.S.Aishwarya's picture

Dear Sir, The tabular form you have provided is really helpful. sir can you give such tabular form for disinfectants Regards






Amol Malpani's picture

Dear Aishwarya, Very soon I will try to post that also in tabular form. If any other topic you find difficult or required inform me, we will try to post in simple mannar so that everyone can understand.
Niklesh Rao V's picture

Dear sir, I really liked the blog. It is a quick and easy read. Just some things to add up,packaged foods and beverages are also sterilized using irradiation with gamma rays. It is a regulatory requirement in the US that meats and such biological food preparations be irradiated for ensuring safety from toxic organisms. And I wanted to ask, can you please justify this statement with any research articles if possible, "...can kill all known viruses" in chemical sterilization.

Regards, Niklesh Rao V

Amol Malpani's picture

Dear, Regarding the justification in case of chemical sterilization, I think you are more concern about viruses so I will tell you that most of the viruses are very delicate and can easily be killed with proper concentration of chemicals. One more important point that viruses never live alone they require some carrier to cultivate and grow that might be bacteria, fungi or any other organism/ species so, if one can kill the carrier then also virus can't survive for longer time unless they find other carrier soon. thus, chemical sterilization is good method in these circumstances. Remaining thing for addition, I will do that. Thanks for suggestion. If you have any other doubt please comment. Regards,
Niklesh Rao V's picture

Thank you for your clarification sir.

Regards, Niklesh Rao V

Santosh kumar. JH's picture

Amol sir, A concise review of different sterilization process. If possible please throw some light on validation of sterilization process.
Amol Malpani's picture

Dear Santosh, Biological indicators what I explained is also one of the measure for validation of sterilization process. like wise some chemical indicators are also available that also been used. In every pharmacopoeia u will get. Regards,

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