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Sterilization Methods for Plastics
and Relative Effectiveness

Plastic Steam Radiation Ethylene Oxide Dry Heat
Acetal Good No Good Good
Acrylic Poor Good Good ––
Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene Varies (1) Good Varies ––
High-density polyethylene Good Good Good ––
Nylon Varies (1) Good Good No
Polycarbonate Varies Good Good Good
Polyester Poor Good Good ––
Polyethylene Poor (1) Good Good ––
Polyglycolic acid No No Good ––
Polymethyl pentene Good Poor Good OK, no load
Polypropylene Good Varies Good OK, no load
Polypropylene & polyethylene copolymer Good Good Good OK, no load
Polystyrene Poor Good Good ––
Polysulfone Good Good Good Yes
Polyurethane Poor Good Good ––
Polyvinyl chloride Varies (1) Varies Good ––
Polyvinylidene fluoride Good Good Good ––
PTFE Varies No Good OK
Silicone Good Good Good Low temp.

(1) there are many materials that can be damaged by high-temperature heat, including acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, acrylic, styrene, low-density polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride, etc.; however, acetal, polypropylene and ptfe could be possible candidates for heat because these materials can be damaged by radiation. polyurethane may be hydrolytically attacked by steam but not by low-temperature dry heat, eto or radiation. material compatibility and considerations need to be evaluated before accepting any sterilization method listed above. see maximum sterilization temperatures for various materials.