Tips on Cleaning Your Microscope

DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CLEAN OPTICAL SURFACES OF
DIRT AND DUST UNLESS PERFORMANCE IS AFFECTED


Microscopes can get pretty dirty after just a few hours of hard work. Keeping your instrument clean is one way of prolonging the life of the microscope and its parts. The following tips may help you keep your microscope happy and productive throughout its lifetime:

 

Cautions


1) Avoid sharp knocking or jarring of your instrument. When moving your microscope, firmly grasp the limb or arm and cradle the bottom with your arm. Gently move the scope taking care not to bump or jar the instrument which can damage it internally.


2) Avoid the following conditions: dust, vibration, exposure to high tempuratures or direct sunlight for prolonged periods of time.


3) Avoid getting dust, dirt or fingerprints on lens surfaces. They will prevent clear images from your specimens. Use your plastic cover provided with your microscope and ALWAYS cover your instrument when not in use, even for short periods. When storing your scope, always keep it in a place free of dust, moisture and fungus.


Cleaning Materials


The following materials are generally accepted by most microscope and optics suppliers:

  • Lint-free Cotton Swabs on wooden sticks
  • Mild Soap or Detergent that is fragrance and color free
  • Powder-free latex or plastic gloves
  • Reagent or medical grade isopropyl alcohol or reagent-grade acetone (use acetone ONLY when absolutely necessary)

 

Lens Cleaning


Eyepieces and objectives are the "front-line" optics of your microscope. They are the parts that will get the most exposure to dust, dirt, oils from fingers or eyelids and other contaminants depending how your microscope is used.


Most dust you see on objective lenses, mirrors, correcting plates eyepieces and filters is harmless and rarely effects the quality of your optics or image quality whatsoever. This dust can be left alone or simply blown off with high-quality compressed air product that uses dry-nitrogen as its propellant.


Most compressed air products for electronics or computers use solvents for their propellant and SHOULD NEVER BE USED ON OPTICS. The main issue is that cheap canned air will frost the area you are cleaning with propellant leaving behind a light milky film that is even more difficult to wipe off or remove. Then followed by excessive wiping will then damage the optic further by making microscopic scratches or, at least, damaging or outright removing the optical coating from which there is no going back.


If dry-nitrogen propelled compressed air cannot be found, consider using a very soft cosmetic or bellows brush sold at camera stores. Many optics suppliers also sell these brushes and they are a good and relatively inexpensive investment.


For removing smears or oil from optics use a pure grade of isopropyl alcohol with lint-free cotton swabs. Do not use lens tissues made for eyeglasses. They tend to use silica powder and other ingredients that could potentially scratch or harm your optics.


Many optics suppliers like Edmund Scientific offer cleaning kits with lens cleaning solution, bellows brush, lint-free wipes and lint-free cotton swabs meant especially for optics cleaning.

 

Cleaning Directions

  1. Gently blow away the course dirt particles with a bellows brush.
  2. Using a lint-free cotton swab, dip the end into your cleaning solution; alcohol,etc.
  3. Shake off excess fluid from the swab.
  4. Using the cotton end of the stick, start at the center of the lens using a circular motion and work your way to the outer edge.
  5. Gently wipe off any excess liquid with another dry lint-free swab.
  6. Using another lint-free swab, gently wipe off any residue on the glass.
  7. Use the bellows brush to blow off any residual lint, dust or debris.
  8. Check the cleaned part with a jewelers loupe looking for any uncleaned spots.
  9. If not clean, repeat procedure again always using fresh new lint-free swabs.
  10. If the object still cannot come clean, consider professional help or simply replacing the optic.


Cleaning Stages and Stage Plates


Stages can get pretty messy from examining biological or industrial specimens. Using just a lint free soft cloth with a mild soapy solution works best. Don't use an overly wet cloth as moisture may seep into the stand which may have electronics inside. It's always best to unplug equipment before attempting to make repairs or to perform cleaning. Do not use alcohol, acetone or other solvents on your instrument as they may cause damage to painted surfaces.


For glass stage plates, we recommend using mild soapy water and using your bare hands. Have a soft paper or cloth towel to set the glass on after you've washed and rinsed your glass.  Carefully dry the glass. It can be a bit damp and let the air dry the glass completely. If you used distilled water, the glass will dry without leaving mineral deposits.  Then, by holding the glass by the edges, drop the glass back into the stage and tighten down the locking thumbscrew.


Don'ts

  • Do not use any aerosol spray product, no matter who sells it or what their claims are.
  • Do not use eyeglass lens tissue, toilet paper or other paper. It DOES scratch glass !
  • Do not use pre-packaged cotton balls. Most of the time they are NOT made from cotton.
  • Do not use lens cleaning solutions marketed by resellers using their brand name. Making your own cleaning solution can also be cheaper and more effective.