Please stop sterilizing packages of swabs:

A prepared procedure package made by a colleague.

It costs nearly half as much to buy sterile swabs than to pack and sterilize them yourself.

Sterile swabs [purchased in packs of 1, 2, or 5] save money, time and labor for no-touch sterile skin preparation and cleanup needs. Foam, cotton, and synthetic fiber are available on 6 inch wooden or plastic handles for effective no-touch sterile application.

Here are some brands and places (Not affiliate links) to find them:

QuickmedicalAmazon and Google

This is primarily intended towards people who package and sterilize their own prep kits. With a Statim, buying bulk and sterilizing as needed is usually most economical, but you still save to buy sterilized swabs and gauze instead of packaging your own.

My suggestion:

No matter what autoclave you have, buy sterilized gauze and swabs for general and backup use, and save your time and packaging for high value items.

An additional concern: residues

Sterilizing woodenwares releases resins. These can make sticky hard residues on the chamber or cassette, and on equipment processed along with it. The exhaust valves can become stuck open or closed. The exhaust waste bottle can stain and the copper condenser coil discolors faster from commercial paper and woodenware resins. The boiler and air compressor can take a hit, as well, since it gums the check valves and leaves a residue in the boiler, which can lead to a failed air compressor and unstable boiler.

2 thoughts on “Please stop sterilizing packages of swabs:”

  1. Why is their not a legit answer from the manufacture and CDC about autoclaving gauze, gun swabs, cotton rolls. The Joint Commission wants IFUs stating they can be.

    • Good question.
      The costs for writing the instructions, validating sterilization for them with adequate microbiological testing may be daunting for companies making these non-sterile supplies. Condisider that the same companies often also make validated commercially sterilized versions they can sell you instead.

      It could be that the historical instructions for sterilization of sundries such as gauze use outdated standards and methods that would require re-evaluation to modern requirements based on more current concerns and knowledge.


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