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Periodic testing and Bowie-Dick test packs: FAQs

What is it?

Periodic testing consists of a programme of tests that are intended to demonstrate that a steriliser’s performance is satisfactory.

When should it take place?

The tests should be carried out at daily, weekly, quarterly and annual intervals.

Who’s responsible?

It is the responsibility of a Test Person or qualified person (AED) and the decontamination unit manager to ensure that periodic testing is carried out.

What are Bowie and Dick tests?

Clinipak Bowie-Dick Test Pack

Clinipak Bowie-Dick Test Pack

One of the critical daily user tests is the Steam Penetration Test (Bowie and Dick Test).

The steam penetration test is intended to show that steam will penetrate rapidly and evenly into a test device that is at least as difficult to sterilise as the intended load.

The test device contains an indicator that responds only when steam penetration is adequate (usually it changes colour – and should do so completely).

NB – If a cycle is provided specifically to test the effectiveness of steam penetration, it should have the same air removal stage as used during routine sterilisation cycles.


Test procedure – our advice:

A standard test device should be placed in an otherwise empty chamber, in the position specified by the manufacturer. At the end of the process the test device is removed from the chamber. The test device is checked for a pass or fail in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. The test results should be recorded.

If the test is failed, the test should be repeated. If the repeat test fails, contact the appropriate personnel and record results.


For more information on periodic testing, or for a free sample of our Bowie and Dick Test Packs, get in touch by calling 01628 810626 or emailing us at

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