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What Are Examples of Aseptic Techniques?

An aseptic technique is a set of practices used to prevent infection and control the spread of bacteria during clinical procedures. Here are a few examples

An aseptic technique is a set of practices used to prevent infection and control the spread of bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms during clinical procedures. 

An aseptic field is a designated work area that contains and protects contaminated procedural equipment. It is used in most medical settings. Examples include the following:


Hand hygiene is important for preventing infection transmission in healthcare settings. Medical personnel should wash hands with soap and running water for at least a minute, and all surfaces should be sterilized, including interdigital spaces.


Sterile gloves, gowns, masks, and drapes should be used. Sterile gloves should be worn if a key part or key site needs to be touched, or if they are likely to be touched accidentally, during the procedure. This aids in lowering the risk of contamination for the patient and body fluid exposure for the physician.


When performing an aseptic procedure, contaminated key parts must be made aseptic before use. For example:

  • An intravenous cannula that has been removed from fluids but left in place is no longer sterile.
  • Before re-accessing the intravenous fluid, it must be sterilized again.
  • Prior to use, it is critical to decontaminate equipment such as trolleys and containers.

Environmental control

Clinicians must ensure that there are no environmental risks to the procedure before performing an aseptic procedure. Risks may include:

  • Open windows
  • Bedside curtains
  • Patients using commode
  • Nearby air conditioners or heaters

Other examples

  • No eating or drinking in the lab
  • Wiping surfaces with disinfectant/alcohol
  • Not growing microorganisms at body temperature
  • Using sterile loops when transferring cultures
  • Flaming culture bottle necks to prevent contamination
  • Sterilizing (using an autoclave) or disposing of all used equipment
  • Cleaning and disinfecting lab surfaces prior to use
  • Limiting the duration that cultures or media are uncapped and exposed to air
  • Keeping petri dishes closed whenever possible
  • Effectively sterilizing inoculating loops and other equipment that comes into contact with cultures or media
  • Avoiding breathing on cultures or sterile instruments

What are key sites and key parts in an aseptic technique?

  • Key sites: Breaches in skin integrity that could allow microorganisms to enter the patient. Wounds and puncture sites are common examples of key sites.
  • Key parts: Equipment parts that come into contact with procedural equipment or the patient. Examples include invasive devices connected to the patient and liquid infusions as well as:
    • Intravenous cannula bungs
    • Needle tips
    • Sterile gauze used to clean a wound

When should an aseptic technique be used?

Aseptic techniques should be used in the following example situations:

  • Inserting an invasive device (a urinary catheter)
  • Dressing wounds healing by primary intention (surgical wounds)
  • Dressing deep wounds that lead to a cavity or sinus
  • Minor surgery procedures
  • Treating burns
  • Suturing wounds
  • Vaginal insertion of intrauterine contraceptive devices
  • Dealing with patients with suppressed immunity, diabetes, or a high risk of infection

What is a clean technique?

In some cases, a modified aseptic clean technique can be used. The goal is still to avoid introducing potential pathogens to a vulnerable site and prevent pathogen transmission to other patients or staff. 

However, wounds that are dressed using a clean technique may already be heavily colonized by bacteria. To ensure that this process is appropriate for the type of wound being dressed, a risk assessment must be performed. Basic principles of an aseptic technique must be followed and sterile dressing materials must be used:

  • Clean rather than sterile gloves are acceptable.
  • Good quality potable (drinking) water rather than sterile saline water is acceptable for cleaning traumatic wounds and leg ulcers.

Indications for using a clean technique may include:

  • Dressing wounds healing by secondary intention
  • Removing sutures
  • Dressing tracheostomy sites
  • Stoma care


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Medically Reviewed on 10/27/2021


Image Source: Yakobchuk Olena / Getty Images

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