As the proud owner of a good quality benchtop centrifuge or microcentrifuge, you’ll be very aware of the need to look after your lab equipment properly. It’s not just about keeping your workspace clean, tidy and well organised. It’s also a safety thing and a health thing.
The proper maintenance of equipment is vital since the smallest amount of contamination can totally ruin your results, rendering them useless. Poor safety practices can even kill you if you’re working with dangerous materials. Luckily maintenance isn’t expensive or onerous when you get into a rhythm and tackle it regularly. It simply becomes part of the scenery, something you do as a matter of course.
Keeping the Place Clean and Tidy
To avoid cross-contamination and ensure accuracy, you should follow best practices. This involves always wearing proper protective clothing for a start, and making sure the room is sanitized and brightly lit, which should mean you’ll be able to spot dirt before it becomes a problem. A lab coat, mask, gloves, and goggles are essential when handling any equipment that you don’t want to contaminate, or any substance that’s dangerous.
Keeping Glassware Immaculate
Clean, sterile glassware is vital, especially when you’re working in a medical lab or anywhere else where hygiene is at a premium. Grease and other contaminants can affect experiments by changing the way substances move within the glass, skewing volume measurements amongst other things.
Always use a proper detergent designed for ther job. Clean it once and rinse several times to get rid of the solvent residue completely. For your final rinse, use deionized water or distilled water. If the solutions you’ve been working with are not soluble in water, try three rinses with ethanol or acetone, then four rinses with deionized water. If the substance is stuck to the glass, use a stiff brush to scrub it off.
You can get rid of acids using tap water followed by deionized water. Weak acids can be washed off using deionized water alone. For strong alkalis, rinse with tap water then deionized water. The same goes for weak alkalis.
It’s best to leave youir glassware to dry naturally rather than risk adding back contaminants trapped in drying cloths. If you’re in a hurry you can swill the glass with acetone to remove the water, since acetone dries really fast, faster than water.
Always cover the microscope up when you’re not using it. Only clean the lenses with specialist substances designed not to scratch the glass. Keep an eye on it to look out for damage, and fix it straight away to prevent serious or expensive mending. Keep it away from extreme heat or cold, and hazardous chemicals. Always carry it with two hands and only use official, manufacturer-recommended parts to replace worn, lost or damaged ones.
Because they are made from glass and often contain mercury, a thermometer can be surprisingly dangerous. Store yours safely where it can’t get accidentally broken. Never use it to stir things. Keep it safe from naked flames. Use it carefully to avoid breakage. Keep it safe from extreme heat or cold sources, and clean it after every use to stop dirt building up.
A refrigerated centrifuge can be an expensive piece of kit. Your centrifuge machine deserves care and attention to keep it in good condition. Don’t let it get dirty – keep it shiny and clean. Place is somewhere you can’t acidentally knock it over. Switch your labatory centrifuge off at the mains switch when you’re not using it. If you have a large industrial centrifuge follow the manufacturer’s maintanence guidelines to the letter. And make sure your refrigerated microcentrifuge stays properly refrigerated. For some great information on centrifuge use and maintenance visit: Benchtop-Centrifuge.com.
Common sense sits at the heart of most of the maintenance tasks you’ll need to put in place and carry out regularly. Never cut corners, think before acting, and you should enjoy a spotless lab where everything performs exactly as it should.