Small scale reactors are taken apart and then cleaned before being re-assembled, filled and then sterilized in an autoclave.
However, reactors with volumes greater than 5 litres cannot be placed in an autoclave and sterilized. These reactors must be cleaned and sterilized "in place". This process is referred to "Clean in Place”.
CIP involves the complete cleaning of not only the fermenter but also all lines linked to the internal components of the reactor. Steam, cleaning and sterilizing chemicals, spray balls and high pressure pumps are used in these processes. The process is usually automated to minimize the possibility of human error.