Sterilization refers to any procedure that eliminates or kills all forms of transmissible agents like fungi, viruses, bacteria, and spores. Many mothers are familiar with some of the processes of sterilization due to the need for cleaning their babies’ bottles or toys. Some pet owners also periodically sanitize chew toys or food dishes of their pet dogs or cats. While many hospitals, dental clinics, and tattoo parlors are required to adhere to strict sanitizing methods for their equipment and tools, households are not bound by the same rules. If you feel the need to sterilize something inside your house, you may follow these different steps.
- Pressure-cook the item that you wish to sterilize. Applying heat is probably the simplest and most common method of sterilization. However, contrary to what many people think, simply cooking or boiling something does not sterilize it. All these methods do is reduce the quantity of the fungi and bacteria on that object. If you want to sterilize using heat, you need to pressure cook it. If you look at a baby bottle sterilizer, you would notice that the bottles are not submerged in water. The small amount of water at the bottom is turned into steam, effectively increasing the pressure inside the sterilizing chamber. This is the same process that occurs within an autoclave, the steam sterilizing equipment used by doctors, dentists, and tattoo artists to sterilize their equipment. If you do not have an autoclave at home but wish to clean some small objects thoroughly, put it in a pressure cooker and place enough water beneath it to create steam.
- Sterilize metal objects over a high flame. Another sure way of getting dirt and pathogens off an object is to burn them away. For this procedure, you will need a flame source, like a burner, and a sturdy pair of tongs. Set your sterilizing station on a secure work space with adequate ventilation. Make sure that you keep your flame source away from anything that may easily catch fire. For small metal objects and specific glassware, hold the object with the tongs and hold this over the fire for a few minutes. If you hare sterilizing a metal object, wait until it becomes red. If you need to sterilize a fairly large object, you might need to rent an incinerator. You can also apply dry heat by putting that object inside your oven and setting the temperature to 190 degrees C. Keep the object inside that oven for at least ten minutes. Make sure that you check if the object you are sterilizing is oven-safe, otherwise you will end up with a sterilized blob. It is important to note here that dishwashers are not designed to sterilize. In fact, the conditions inside the dishwasher can even promote the growth of bacteria. This is why most experts suggest that as soon as your plates have been through a cycle, take them out and use a clean cloth to wipe any moisture away.
- Wipe down surfaces with chemicals that you can probably find inside your homes. The three most common substances used in sterilizing objects at home are alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and bleach. These are often used to sterilize objects that are not heat resistant, like plastics. Of the three, alcohol is the least effective in sterilizing objects. It can only kill up to 70% of the bacteria present. However it is a very common household item and is better than just using soap and water. If you want to clean your floors and other surfaces, simply pour a large amount of alcohol onto a rag and give your surfaces a good wipe down. Be careful though, as alcohol is highly toxic. The next best thing when it comes to cleaning agents inside the house is hydrogen peroxide. It is sometimes used to disinfect wounds but it is also a great substance to get rid of bacteria. The ones that you can get over the counter at a drugstore have very low concentration. This is enough to keep your household items clean and virus free. Lastly, you can sterilize anything by soaking it in a mixture of water and bleach. Be careful in using this though because some high concentrations of this substance can actually erode steel.
Other methods of sterilization are available. Irradiation is also a good method of zapping viruses and bacteria away. If the object that you wish to sterilize is microwave safe, simply put it in the microwave for a few minutes on the highest setting in it will come out clean and pathogen-free.