According to the Animal Care and Use Program at Duke University, cold sterilization uses cold chemical sterilants to sterilize many items. As with other sterilization methods, cold sterilization is distinct from disinfection. Unlike disinfection, sterilization kills all viable microorganisms.
The Animal Care and Use Program at Duke University uses cold sterilization on certain items with smooth surfaces that can be exposed to the chemical sterilants. Survival surgical procedures on any mammal require the utilization of sterile instruments and supplies, making disinfectants such as alcohol and quaternary ammonium unsuitable. While many items are commercially available in sterile packs, others frequently require sterilization.
Cold sterilization is effective for many items, but high pressure steam or temperature and ethylene oxide gas remain the preferred methods. Ethylene oxide is used on items incapable of withstanding high temperature.