Sterilization (or sterilisation) in simple terms, refers to any process that effectively kills or eliminates transmissible agents (such as bacteria, viruses, spore forms etc.) from a surface, equipment or biological culture medium.
Sterilization can be achieved through application of heat, chemicals, irradiation, or filtration. Of these, heat (steam) sterilization is proven to be the most effective.
A minimum temperature-time relationship must be maintained throughout all portions of load to accomplish effective sterilization. Exposure time depends upon size and contents of load, and temperature within the sterilizer. At the end of the cycle, re-evaporation of water condensate must effectively dry contents of the load to maintain sterility.