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Can Sterile/Non-sterile Supplies And Equipment Be Stored Together?

Sterile supplies, non-sterile supplies, and clean equipment may be stored in the same storage area. Many facilities have limited space, often making it necessary to combine storing sterile and non-sterile items together. Below are some tips on how to make sure your storage area can keep sterile items sterile.

The relevant QUAD A standards are:

Standard 2-E-1: Sterile supplies are stored away from potential contamination in closed cabinets/drawers; or if not, sterile supplies must be stored away from heavy traffic areas and potential contamination hazards (including corrugated cardboard).

Standard 2-E-2: Storage space provides easy access for identification and inventory of supplies.

Recommended practice per the Association for periOperative Nurses (AORN): When using the same space for sterile and non-sterile supplies and clean equipment, always follow the environmental requirements for storing sterile supplies, including:

  • positive-pressure relationship to the adjacent spaces,
  • minimum of four total air exchanges per hour,
  • minimum of two total outside air exchanges per hour,
  • maximum temperature of 75° F (23.9° C),
  • and maximum relative humidity of 60%.

The manufacturer’s requirements for storing sterile items should also be followed. Sterile supplies should be stored above unsterile supplies when the same rack is used. When possible, store similar-appearing sterile and unsterile supplies on different racks or different shelves of the same rack. Corrugated cardboard should not be present. Sterile or non-sterile items should not be stored above the autoclave. If clean equipment is stored in the same area as sterile or non-sterile supplies, there must be a process in place to easily identify whether the equipment is clean, such as labeling it clean and dirty, so staff can easily identify that it is available to use.

Please see the links below for additional information:


Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

Since 1980, QUAD A (a non-profit, physician-founded and led global accreditation organization) has worked with thousands of healthcare facilities to standardize and improve the quality of healthcare they provide – believing that patient safety should always come first.