Can I Clean and Disinfect My Microscope and Accessories?

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve been fielding questions regarding decontamination methods of microscopes for safe usage. Since microscopes are typically shared by many users, it’s a great practice to frequently sanitize your instruments. Here are the basic steps* to clean and disinfect your instrument:

  1. Cleaning and disinfecting the microscope frame: It’s best to wear gloves. Always be sure to avoid organic solvents which may damage plastic parts. Using a neutral detergent and warm water solution, wipe the microscope frame including the eyepiece shades, focusing knobs, stage handles, and knurled edge of the nosepiece. Then, disinfect all parts using a wipe with 70% ethanol.
  2. Cleaning optical components – eyepieces and objectives: Start by inspecting all lens surfaces using a magnifying loupe. If you don’t have a loupe, you can use the microscope eyepiece (usually 10X). Remove any loose dust particles with a blower brush. Avoid compressed air as these can leave a film behind. Place a small amount of lens cleaning fluid in the middle of your eyepiece or objective lens. Sparkle brand works well and is alcohol and ammonia free, or you may use 70% ethanol which will safely clean and disinfect the surface. Using a lint-free cotton swab or lens tissue, wipe from the center to the edges in a circular motion, as shown:

  3. When not in use, keep it covered: A vinyl dust cover is provided with most microscopes. If you don’t have one, it’s a great idea to purchase one large enough to cover the entire instrument to keep it dust-free and protected against spills and other accidents. Keep the bench space around the microscope clean and dust free, as well.
  4. Cleaning microscopy accessories – Linkam thermal stages, cameras, etc.: Microscope accessories such as Linkam thermal stages can be easily cleaned and disinfected using a lint-free wipe with 70% ethanol. Be sure to take care when cleaning delicate components, for example, the heating/cooling block. Digital microscope camera external housings can also be cleaned and disinfected with a 70% ethanol wipe, but camera CCD and CMOS sensors should be avoided at all times. If dust or residue is ever on a camera sensor, consider sending it to the manufacturer to handle this type of service.

Follow these simple steps to keep your microscopy equipment safe and sanitized. You’ll get many years of productive use, and your co-workers will thank you for it!

*We recommend first reviewing the specific product manufacturer’s recommendations to ensure you do not use any supplies or methods that could void the product warranty.


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