How to Clean Laboratory Apparatus

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Cleaning laboratory glassware is an essential part of the scientific process. Dirty equipment can lead to faulty data or even lab accidents that may be caused by chemical residue reacting with newly introduced chemicals. To ensure lab safety, you need to clean your glassware properly. Always take the proper safety precautions when working with any chemicals.

Things You'll Need

  • Butyl gloves
  • Lab coat
  • Goggles
  • Closed-toe shoes
  • Distilled water
  • Wire scrub brushes of varying lengths and diameters
  • Paper towels
  • Ether or acetone
  • Alconox
  • Hydrochloric acid with a molarity of 6 (HCl 6 M)
  • Sodium hydroxide (NaOH)
  • Potassium hydroxide (KOH)

Simple Cleaning (When No Solid Residue Is Present)

  • Rinse the glassware with distilled water.

  • Scrub inside the glassware, using a scrub brush of the correct diameter to fit inside the container.

  • Rinse the glassware with distilled water.

  • Scrub inside the glassware, using scrub brushes.

  • Rinse the glassware with distilled water.

  • Set the glassware aside to dry.

Moderate Cleaning (When Solid Residue Is Present)

  • Clean any joints of the glassware, using a paper towel and ether/acetone.

  • Submerge the glassware in Alconox solution for several minutes.

  • Scrub the glassware, using a scrub brush.

  • Rinse the glassware three times, using distilled water.

  • Repeat the procedure if the glass is still soiled after the final rinsing.

  • Set the glassware aside to dry.

Intense Cleaning of Metal-containing Compounds (When Solid Residue Is Present and Moderate Cleaning Has Failed)

  • Soak the glassware in a solution of 6 M HCl until the solid residue has dissolved completely.

  • Rinse the glassware thoroughly with distilled water.

  • Clean the joints of the glassware, using a paper towel and ether or acetone.

  • Submerge the glassware in Alconox solution for several minutes.

  • Scrub the glassware, using a scrub brush.

  • Rinse the glassware three times, using distilled water.

  • Set the glassware aside to dry.

Intense Cleaning of Organic Contaminants (When Solid Residue Is Present and Moderate Cleaning Has Failed)

  • Soak the glassware in a solution of NaOH or KOH and ethanol or methanol. Make sure the glassware is completely filled. The glassware must sit upright to allow fumes to escape. Allow the glassware to soak for several minutes.

  • Remove the glassware from the solution. Exercise caution, as the glassware will be slippery.

  • Rinse the glassware thoroughly with distilled water.

  • Clean the joints of the glassware, using a paper towel and ether or acetone.

  • Submerge the glassware in Alconox solution for several minutes.

  • Scrub the glassware, using a scrub brush.

  • Rinse the glassware three times, using distilled water.

  • Set the glassware aside to dry.

Tips & Warnings

  • Clean equipment immediately after completing your experiment.
  • Organize glassware based on the intensity of cleaning required.
  • Allow glassware to dry completely before you use it.
  • Always wear protective goggles, gloves, closed-toe shoes and a lab coat when in the lab, even when cleaning your glassware.
  • All cleaning should be done under a fume hood.
  • Never pour any chemicals down the sink.

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References

  • Photo Credit flask image by Wolszczak from Fotolia.com
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