Using a clean analytical balance is one of the first steps to accurate weighing in a laboratory and can actually extend its lifecycle. A lab scale that isn’t regularly cleaned can lead to cross-contamination, and safety issues.
In this guide we will cover why it’s important to keep your instrument clean and how you can do that.
Why Is It Important to Keep Your Balance Clean?
If you don’t regularly clean your analytical balance, it can actually result in large costs for your business.
The individual expenses will be discussed further in each section but keeping your scales clean is a simple way to avoid these costs.
To Minimise the Risk of Cross-Contamination
Cross contamination occurs when a microorganism, chemical or other substances are accidentally transferred to another person or object.
If a lab scale is not cleaned properly or is used for multiple purposes, this can result in cross-contamination.
Reducing the risk of cross-contamination can improve experiment outcomes, and prevent any additional costs. Avoiding contamination also reduces the likelihood of experiment failure.
To Improve User Safety
Biological laboratories frequently conduct experiments with microorganisms that can cause infection and illness. Chemical and Pharmaceutical laboratories, on the other hand, regularly use hazardous chemicals, which can be inhaled, ingested or transferred via skin contact to scientists.
By not regularly cleaning your weighing instrument after every experiment, you are opening yourself up to these safety risks.
If possible you should clean your balance after each weighing to avoid any chance of cross-contamination. But, if not, a daily inspection is recommended. For experiments that require the use of toxic or dangerous samples then your scale should be thoroughly cleaned immediately after use.
This improves safety as there’s no risk of any particles from these samples being transferred to the scientists.
To Keep to the Experiment Timescale
If any cross-contamination or issues happen during the weighing portion of your experiment, this can cause delays.
Restarting or repeating parts of the experiment due to failures can severely prolong the length of experiments, some of which may be time sensitive.
To Reduce Failure Rate
Experiment failures can happen for a number of reasons and not cleaning your weighing instrument is one of them.
To Prolong Balance Life
Properly caring for your laboratory scale can significantly extend its life cycle. Through proper maintenance, you could add years to the life of your balance by regularly cleaning and calibrating the instrument.
How to Clean Your Weighing Instrument
Below are 8 simple steps for cleaning your balance:
- Read through the operating instructions before cleaning. Further instructions relating to your specific instrument will be in here.
- Wear all standard laboratory protective equipment in order to protect yourself while cleaning. This includes your lab coat, gloves, close-toed shoes and goggles.
- Switch off the balance. If it is powered by an adaptor we recommend that it is unplugged, but this is not necessary.
- Carefully unlock the draft shield and remove the glass panes. These can be cleaned with a damp cloth and mild detergent or can be placed in a dishwasher.
- Remove the weighing pan and drip tray. These can also be cleaned with a damp cloth and mild detergent or can be placed in a dishwasher.
- Wipe away any dirt surrounding the middle of the balance. Do not allow any substance to enter the central hole as this leads to the inner mechanics of your scale. Any dirt in this area may cause machine faults.
- Gently put your balance back together. Ensure that the parts are correctly fitted back where they were before.
- Finally, switch the balance on and check its functioning correctly. Test its calibration and ensure the air bubble is in the centre of the circle.
5 Ways to Keep Your Lab Balance Clean
1. Avoid Cross-Contamination
Ensure you’re wearing appropriate clothing and protective equipment to avoid transferring anything onto the balance. This will prevent cross-contamination with any of your experiments.
2. Protect the Weighing Instrument When It’s in Use
Protective covers and mats can be purchased to help protect your balance while it’s in use. This helps to safeguard the balance and protect it from any dirt, toxic or sticky substances that may come near it.
It’s also effective for protecting the weighing instrument from any exterior damage, like scratches and scuffs, as well as helping to prevent any damage that could have long lasting effects on your balance.
3. And Not in Use
Dust covers can also be used to protect your weighing balance when it’s not in use.
This prevents any unfortunate accidents like soiling or spilling from occurring outside of experiments. It also helps to protect against external factors such as dust and moisture.
4. Reduce the Risk of Spillage by Using Smaller Vessels
Instead of using the original vessel for transferring substances to your balance, utilise smaller containers such as a test tube or a volumetric flask.
5. Keep a Cleaning Log
If multiple people use the balance then it’s recommended that you keep a written record of what cleaning is carried out and when.
This can help to avoid any issues surrounding the cleanliness of the scale and stops unnecessary wasting time rewashing something that has already been cleaned.
At Marsden we offer a range of analytical balances but it can be hard to choose the right one for your business. That’s why we put together this buyers’ guide for balances to help you choose the perfect balance for you.
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