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Tips for Cleaning Microscopes

By Cynthia Syverson-Mercer
Swift® Optical Instruments

Microscope Cleaning

Now that you are back in the classroom, it’s time to get out those microscopes! Yes, you meant to keep them covered, but somehow over the summer break they got a bit dustier. How did you know there would be minor construction next door? Now what to do? Ready your microscopes for the school year using these simple tips.

  • All Parts—Ensure that everything on the microscope is firmly in place. Hand-tighten the eyepiece tube, objectives, and illuminator cover. With a screwdriver, tighten the rubber feet on the base.
  • Body—Remove dirt and grease from the microscope body with a moist paper towel.
  • Power Cord—Inspect power cords for cracks or damage. If necessary, have a qualified microscope repairperson replace any damaged cord.
  • Eyepiece Lenses—Using soft circular pressure, clean each eyepiece lens with cleaning solution and lens paper or microfiber cloth.
  • Objectives—The 4× and 10× objectives shouldn’t require much cleaning, but the 40× and 100× will. Gently clean the outer objective lens using lens cleaner and lens paper or a cotton-tipped swab. Clean the 40× and 100× objectives especially after using immersion oil or making wet mounts.
  • Other Parts—Check the condenser lens (hole in stage) and illuminator cover for dirt. If needed, clean with lens paper and cleaner. Check the iris diaphragm and filter (if applicable) for damage.
  • Stage Drift—If your scopes drift out of focus, locate the adjustment collar on the inside of the coarse-focus knob (usually on the left side). Tighten the collar with a clockwise turn using the “C wrench” supplied with your microscope.
  • Floppy Stage Clips—Ensure stage clips are tightly screwed in. If they are not, insert a flathead screwdriver under the part of the clip closest to the screw. Using the screwdriver as a fulcrum, press the middle of the clip with your thumb. The clip will tighten against the stage and restore the spring.
  • Dustcover—Remember that the best way to keep scopes clean all year long is to cover them when not in use. Use dustcovers even when storing your scopes in a cabinet. A clean microscope is a happy microscope.

Classroom Tip

Did you know that an empty micropipettor tip box makes a great microscope kit box? Fill it with toothpicks, tweezers, coverslips, slides, cotton, transfer pipettes, and lens paper. It keeps everything neat and handy.