Even though scientists and medical professionals are brilliant and capable individuals, they are not always neat. It is not uncommon to find a laboratory area littered with powdered substances and sinks full of dirty labware. Keeping a laboratory clean is extremely important because microorganisms and chemicals can quickly contaminate incubators, freezers, and benches without proper cleaning protocols, leading to a dangerous space for samples and researchers. Our experts in laboratory billing and optimization offer these tips for keeping your area clean and safe.
Lab work can be chaotic, which makes scheduling cleaning time bothersome. But without proper cleaning protocols in place, your dirty lab may cause your samples to become contaminated. A laboratory information management system (LIMS) can help effectively manage your time in the lab. It can help manage inventory, workflow, analyze results, and schedule advanced lab cleaning hours. In addition, it allows lab users to make assessments of the cleaning requirements and match specific lab users with specific cleaning tasks to create accountability and ensure cleaning procedures are completed.
Regular cleaning makes a lab safe and efficient. You should perform basic cleaning with every test or experiment to ready the space for the next person who needs it. This type of cleaning also helps keep the area clean and free of powdered or liquid chemicals that may be harmful to someone who does not know what they are. Every lab should have a weekly cleaning schedule for emptying biohazard containers, dusting benches, washing lab surfaces, and equipment maintenance.
It is essential to use the correct cleaning solutions for different surfaces and items within the lab. Most labware should be washed with soap and water in the sink immediately after use to prevent residue buildup. Some chemicals require unique cleaning solutions to assist with buildup removal. In addition, bleach sprays or ethanol can be applied on nearly any surface to eliminate viral, fungal, or bacterial contaminants, though some labs use specialized cleaning products for decontamination. There are also special sprays available to remove any radioactive substances used in your lab.
A few other specialized cleaning methods used for labware include:
Batch sterilization- Numerous methods may vary from lab to lab, including autoclaves and gamma irradiation. It is important to note that the sterilization process does not remove chemical residue.
Dishwashers- Lab dishwashers are specially designed to prevent cross-contamination between cycles and use high temperatures to clean glassware in the lab setting. These machines often have accessories to wash specialized labware like pipettes, Petri dishes, and test tubes.
Ultrasonic cleaners- These specialized machines clean dirt from glassware using sound waves that can be combined with specific cleaning solutions to remove particles. It would be best to avoid low flashpoint or flammable cleaning solutions to prevent fire.
Spoiled reagents and old samples that no longer hold value should be disposed of properly. Your LIMS or lab books can help you determine how long samples have been stored. In addition, LIMS will allow disposal dates to be scheduled for reagents.
Lab freezers should be cleaned out and defrosted regularly to save on energy costs and make it easier to obtain samples. Do not forget to set up bins to collect the melting ice so that you do not come back to a wet floor once the defrosting is complete.