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Whether you’re a scientist by trade or examining small items is your hobby, a microscope is your go-to piece of equipment. Microscopes are complex and are comprised of multiple working components. Each time you use your microscope, it can become damaged and dirty, which can in turn, wear the equipment down and impact the quality of its performance and the images it produces.
How to Care for your Microscope
With proper maintenance and cleaning, you can keep your microscope in tip-top condition so that it will serve you for years to come. Here’s a look at four basic maintenance and cleaning tips that you should always practice.
1. Wipe Down Regularly
Make sure to wipe down your microscope after each use. Use a compressed air cleaner to blow off any dirt, debris, dust, and other small particles that can collect on the surfaces of the instrument, including, the stage, the nose piece, the frame, and the light bulbs. However, avoid applying the air to the lenses, as the pressure of the air can distort the optics. Instead, use clean anti-static wipes to remove any lint and other debris from the lenses.
2. Remove Immersion Oil
One of the leading causes of a dirty microscope is debris caused by immersion oil. This oil attracts dirt and debris, which can reduce the quality of the image and can ultimately scratch the lens. After each use, make sure to remove any excess oil with low-lint, high-absorption disposable cleaning cloths.
3. Avoid Harsh Cleaning Agents and Tools
While using paper towels and general all-purpose cleaner or a glass cleaner might seem like the easiest way to clean your microscope, avoid using them at all costs. They can scratch the surface of the lenses and result in irreparable damage. You should also avoid using any other harsh cleaning tools, such as stiff brushes, sponges, and the like. Instead, use soft, low-lint, high-absorption wipes and a delicate spray that is designed specifically for cleaning microscopes.
4. Cover Your Hands and Avoid Touching the Class
Even when freshly washed, your hands still contain oil and debris that can cause extensive damage to a microscope. To prevent transferring that oil and debris to the device, be sure to wear soft, cotton gloves before cleaning your microscope. You should also make it a priority to avoid touching the most fragile parts of the device with your bare hands; particularly the glass.
5. Lubricate the Working Parts
On occasion, you’ll want to lubricate the working parts of your microscope to ensure that they continue functioning properly. After the device has been cleaned, apply a thin layer of grease to any of the moving components so that they will continue to move freely. Check with the manufacturer of your microscope for specific tips regarding the type of grease you should use; however, generally, a lithium-based grease is suitable.
6. Properly Store Your Microscope
Always make sure to cover your microscope with a specialized dust cover when it isn’t in use. Store the device in a cool, dry location, away from direct sunlight.