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Operator Cleaning and Disinfection

Cleaning, Disinfecting and Sterilizing

What is sterilization and how is it done?

Sterilization is a process that kills all germs, including blood-borne viruses such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV and bacterial spores. 

Sterilization must be done in an autoclave (a machine that uses pressurized steam to disinfect equipment), a dry heat sterilizer or a chemical autoclave.

Instruments must be cleaned before they are sterilized, and any item or piece of equipment that pierces the skin or holds sterile items (like needles) must be sterilized between uses.

Test your sterilizer by placing temperature-sensitive tape on every package that is sterilized. This temperature-sensitive tape will change colour when an effective temperature has been reached. You must also record the date, temperature, pressure and cycle length each time you use the sterilizer.

printable fact sheet for operators

Spore tests use heat-resistant bacterial spores to see if your sterilizer is working properly. Do a spore test on your sterilizer every 14 days. 

Spore tests must be sent to a certified laboratory for testing. Test results must be NEGATIVE, which shows that the sterilizer has killed all of the spores and is working properly.

If your sterilizer is new or has been repaired it must pass three spore tests in a row in 3 different loads before you can use it. You must also keep copies of your spore test results for at least five years and on-site for at least one year.

My spore test came back positive. What should I do?

printable fact sheet for operators

STOP USING THE STERILIZER IMMEDIATELY, and call the Peel Public Health Department right away at 905-799-7700.

DON’T use any instruments sterilized after the date of the last passed spore test. If you use unsterilized items there’s a significant risk to your client’s health.

Cleaning, disinfection, and sterilization guidelines

  • If your equipment doesn't touch the client or only touches the surface of the client's skin, clean and disinfect using a low level disinfectant. Examples: counter tops, chairs, trays, headrests, combs, etc.

  • If your equipment could go through the skin or come into contact with blood or body fluid, clean and disinfect using a high level disinfectant (sterilization is an option as an added measure of safety). Examples: tweezers, needle holders, hair-cutting scissors, probes, etc.

  • If your equipment is designed to go through the skin or to hold a sterile item, clean and sterilize using an autoclave, dry heat sterilizer or chemical autoclave. Examples: any jewellery or equipment used for body piercing or tattooing, such as tattoo guns, barrels, callipers, tweezers used to remove ingrown hairs, etc.

  • If your equipment is a sharp, dispose of it in a puncture-proof biohazard container from a hazardous waste management contractor. Examples: needles, razors, etc.


Clean, Disinfect, Sterilize

Customer Information | Operator Information | Contact a Public Health Inspector |

Revised: Monday May 02 2011

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