5 Tips for Cleaning Laboratory Glassware

Clean glassware plays a major role in the success of analytical work. At a minimum, laboratory glassware should be physically clean. When you go further and sterilize these apparatus, then you can work knowing that your equipment is giving out the right results since they are free of grease, dust, microorganisms, chemicals and any other dirt. To maintain high laboratory standards, here are five tips for cleaning laboratory glassware.

1. Clean immediately

It’s never fun to wash glass, and most people tend to pile and clean them all at once. Instead, clean the glassware immediately after you’re through with using it. You will find that most dirt can be easily removed by distilled water when done before the solution or chemicals have dried up.
In some cases, like cell culture glassware, rinsing will not work to sterilize your glassware. Soaking the glass in a reagent will help dissolve the stuck residue.

2. Wet the glassware surface

A stained glass tends to have water droplets adhering to the glass surface. This can result in inconsistent results especially in volumetric methods where there is a need for precise measurements. Your glass may look physically clean, but you can test it to be sure by filling it with distilled water. When you empty the glass, it should form a smooth uniform sheet and have no visible water droplets.

3. Use a soft abrasive 

Pipettes, cylinders, burets and test tubes can chirp or scratch when you clean them using rough bristles. Separating your glassware into those which are easy to clean and those that require aggressive techniques can reduce breakage. If you must use aggressive cleaning methods, then soak them in an appropriate solvent. You can then rinse off all the cleaning detergent using distilled water.

4. Wear protective gloves

A sink crowded with dirty laboratory apparatus can result in damage, and you can injure yourself especially when the glassware breaks after bumping with other items during the cleaning process. Additionally, the residue and impurities in the glass can cause irritation or be a health risk when they come in contact with the skin. Therefore, always wear gloves not just when doing experiments, but also when carrying out any general cleaning procedure.

5. Sterilization to remove contamination

Culture tubes and pipette tips have to be sterilized before cleaning with either detergent or rinsing with water. The best technique to achieve complete sterilization is to autoclave for 30 minutes without overcrowding this equipment, then rinse thoroughly with clean water. Check with the rules of the manufacturer before exposing your glassware to high temperatures.

The primary function of a laboratory is to produce accurate results and keeping the glassware clean contributes to delivering outstanding results.