No matter what type of laboratory you work in, the integrity of your tools should always be a paramount concern. Specifically, you want to make sure that all of your equipment is properly maintained and any items that need to be cleaned are properly cleaned.
When it comes to cleaning your pipettes, you want to make sure that you are extra careful as these devices can easily get past samples stuck within them. But, what makes these little pieces of equipment so important?
Avoid Contamination of Samples
One of the most important reasons to clean out your pipettes is to make sure that you do not contaminate new samples. If you work with volatile chemicals, this can be especially important to pay attention to, as they may be prone to react poorly when mixed with the wrong substances. Cleaning your equipment helps ensure that you avoid this contamination.
Save Your Lab Valuable Resources
Of course, even if you don’t work with volatile substances, you also want to make sure you avoid this type of contamination. Having poorly cleaned pipettes can mean spoiled substances, which means that you are throwing money straight down the drain. Whether your lab is attached to a hospital or it just performs general scientific research, your budget is likely limited. Keeping that in mind, you want to avoid anything that might cause you to waste essential equipment.
Make Sure They Measure Accurately
If this is not enough reason to make sure your pipettes remain clean, you should also worry about the measurements you are taking. If you do not regularly clean your equipment, you could be getting measurements that are inaccurate. Ultimately, this could lead to a mistake during a key experiment or more wasted money. So, how do you go about properly cleaning them?
Properly Cleaning Your Pipettes
Depending on how you use them, cleaning can vary quite significantly from lab to lab. In general, the exterior doesn’t require that much special attention. Simply use a standard laboratory cleaner and wipe it down gently to clear away and exterior residue. Alternatively, the interior often requires special attention. Naturally, you want to start by following whatever instructions came with your pipette.
Typically, this will mean taking it apart to individual clean the parts. Rinse out pistons with distilled water, use a cotton swab to clear out any clogs, lightly grease the pistons with the appropriate lubricant, and make sure you reassemble them properly.
When you believe it might be contaminated, follow more specialized procedures, such as using an autoclave on appropriate parts.
When In Doubt, Toss It
If you feel like a substance might have damaged the integrity of your pipettes or that it is otherwise past repair, don’t take the chance. Make sure to toss it out and replace it with a new one. Remember that while these might not be the least expensive piece of lab equipment, it is better to go with caution. After all, using a dirty pipette can be a lot more costly than replacing it with one you know is clean.