Sterilization (microbiology)
Sterilization is a term referring to any process that eliminates (removes) or kills all forms of microbial life, including transmissible agents (such as fungi, bacteria
Bacteria are a large domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a few micrometres in length, bacteria have a wide range of shapes, ranging from spheres to rods and spirals...

, virus
A virus is a small infectious agent that can replicate only inside the living cells of organisms. Viruses infect all types of organisms, from animals and plants to bacteria and archaea...

es, spore forms, etc.) present on a surface, contained in a fluid, in medication, or in a compound such as biological culture media. Sterilization can be achieved by applying the proper combinations of heat
In physics and thermodynamics, heat is energy transferred from one body, region, or thermodynamic system to another due to thermal contact or thermal radiation when the systems are at different temperatures. It is often described as one of the fundamental processes of energy transfer between...

, chemicals, irradiation
Irradiation is the process by which an object is exposed to radiation. The exposure can originate from various sources, including natural sources. Most frequently the term refers to ionizing radiation, and to a level of radiation that will serve a specific purpose, rather than radiation exposure to...

, high pressure, and filtration
Filtration is commonly the mechanical or physical operation which is used for the separation of solids from fluids by interposing a medium through which only the fluid can pass...


The term has evolved to include the disabling or destruction of infectious proteins such as prions related to Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSE).
One of the first steps toward sterilization was made by Nicolas Appert
Nicolas Appert
Nicolas Appert , was the French inventor of airtight food preservation. Appert, known as the "father of canning", was a confectioner.-Biography:...


He learned that thorough cooking
Cooking is the process of preparing food by use of heat. Cooking techniques and ingredients vary widely across the world, reflecting unique environmental, economic, and cultural traditions. Cooks themselves also vary widely in skill and training...

 (applying a suitable amount of heat over a suitable period of time) slowed the decay of foods and various liquids, preserving them for safe consumption for a longer time than was typical.