I utilize a leaf gauge as a routine part of my practice to load test, identify first point of contact, take centric relation bite records and perform occlusal equilibration. With this much utility it is a tool I want to make sure we are taking care of. It may seem silly to worry over the maintenance of something that costs less then fifteen dollars. However, they are not disposable so I want the assistant to pass me a leaf gauge that is visually clean and in good shape, as well as sterile.
One of the first requirements for me when I purchase new leaf gauges is to assure that they are autoclavable, not all of the brands you can purchase will tolerate these conditions. My assistant spreads the leaves out and wipes them down with a disinfectant wipe. Once this is complete, she dries the leaves off and folds them together into a stack. My experience is that if you wipe the leaves down and then close them together wet, they are stuck together the next time you use it. If you place the leaf gauge into an autoclave bag without closing the leaves down, they will get bent and distorted by other instrument bags in the autoclave.
Finally, when my assistant opens an autoclave bag and puts out a sterile leaf gauge for my use, she thumbs through the leaves, like you would a deck of new cards to unstick and loosen the leaves.