Perfect Storage For Your Microscope And Accessories
Microscopes have delicate pieces of hardware which must be maintained to protect your investment. Microscope accessories, especially, need proper storage and cleaning to last. In this post, we’re going to take a look at some basic ways you can clean and store your microscope and accessories.
Now, you might think that microscopes don’t affect your daily life. If you don’t own a microscope or lab equipment of your own, it seems like you don’t need to think about the process of digital or analog magnification. But we all use microscopic technology, sometimes on a daily basis! We’ll also explore the surprising places that microscopes show up in our everyday lives.
Don’t have a microscope yet? Browse our collection of digital and stereo microscopes.
Microscope Cleaning and Storage
Lens paper is going to be your good friend for cleaning a microscope. Don’t use cloth or your fingers to clean off your microscope, because additional oils and fibres can make the mess worse. In a worst case scenario, you might even scratch or damage the lenses to a worse state than when you started.
Lens paper is ideal for wiping down lenses. If lenses get dirty and have material buildup over time, you can use lens paper that is dipped in a weak ammonia to remove some of the buildup. Usually, you can create your own ammonia solution by putting about 6 drops in about a half cup of water. Stir for a second then dip the lens paper in the solution.
If you have sticky stuff on your microscope, like biomaterials or oils, you can remove it with a xylol solution. Xylol is made from xylene, and is commonly sold in hardware stores as a solution that can thin out paints and synthetic enamels. You can remove varnishes and adhesives with it, so anything sticky will slip right off with proper use.
Eyepieces can be cleaned with just a bit of condensation or moisture. Many scientists will simply use their breath to fog the lens and then will use a lens tissue to wipe it off. Alternatively, you can use a dab of high-alcohol solution to clean off the lens. If you see specks when you peer through the eyepiece, you have dust spots or material buildup that needs to be removed. You can brush the inside of the eyepiece lens with your lens paper.
Cleaning the Outside
When cleaning the outside of a microscope, also use materials that are relatively safe for the lenses. It’s too easy, and too expensive, to have your rag slip and scratch a more delicate part of the microscope. Straight compound microscopes and slanted compound microscopes can be cleaned in the same way, since shape is the only difference.
Digital microscopes have a screen, sometimes in addition to the eyepieces other times in addition to the eyepieces. The screen is a basic computer screen and can be cleaned basically the same way that you would clean any other computer screen. Keep in mind that lots of weird stuff goes under a microscope and can easily transfer to the screen, which sometimes has touch components. You should invest in some disinfectant specifically built for screens to avoid contaminations.
Optical Shops that Specialize in Microscope Cleaning
Microscopes can be dismantled and cleaned internally if need be. Sometimes microparticle buildup will affect the image and focusing, or wheels and stages begin to stick. You shouldn’t attempt more extensive cleaning solutions on your own power. The risk of damaging the microscope is too great, and you’ll often need special tools to pop it open and put it back together.
There are special optical shops that can help you clean and restore microscopes. Sometimes you may have to ship your microscope to professional services. Usually, the warranty on a microscope will immediately become void if you clean it yourself in an extensive way or send it to an unauthorized dealer. So talk to the manufacturer about where you can get their microscopes cleaned.
If you’re studying rocks or chemicals that are prepared carefully in little, sterile slides you may not have to worry about intense disinfectants. But great dissecting microscopes are often around animal parts and organs, which can have diseases and bad bacteria that you really don’t want hanging around after the project.
Most microscopes come with a plastic covering that you can use when you store the microscope. Microscopes should be covered immediately after you’re done using them, because the buildup of dust can lead to the long-term damage of the microscope. You definitely don’t want to be wiping a thin layer of dust off the stage every time you use the microscope!
Long Term Storage Considerations
Clean your microscope thoroughly before storing it. You don’t want anything gross to live on it, and you certainly don’t want the condition to become worse as it sits in storage. Professional cleaning is a great option for long term storage. Place the microscope back in the original box if possible, as this will reduce the likelihood that it collects dust.
Restoring an Old Microscope
If you’re a magnification hobbyist, you might really enjoy reviving an old microscope through cleaning and a new light source. Old microscopes often have picked up a lot of grease, so restoration will require de-greasing the parts of the microscope before greasing it with a new coat. The best way to degrease is to use WD-40 and wipe the parts down. Then you can use official hobby kits of dampening grease to restore. You can disassemble most of the key parts of the microscope using only a screwdriver, but you’ll need a spanner wrench to complete the process.
Microscopes For Daily Life
You might think that cleaning microscopes is just for lab technicians who use microscopes in daily lab work. But you might be surprised at the places where microscopic technology is used. You may not have an ITI 3025BI Zoom Stereo Microscope (we think it’s a huge loss if you don’t), but you probably have a smartphone. You can actually attach a glass bead to your iPhone to use it as a microscope. 3D printers can make cases that transform the viewing lens of the smartphone into a digital microscope!
Additionally, microscopes are used in forensics, where scientist examine crime scenes with portable, digital microscopes. Environmental scientists use microscopes to check out soil and water samples. Engineers use microscopes to inspect the building materials of old and new buildings. You can predict the safety of a structure using microscopic tests!
Newer microscopes are doing even more amazing things. Microscopes have always been incredibly useful for advances in medical science, but new microscopes can watch cells move and unfold in 3D. Scientists have mostly been able to look at cells that are sitting on glass slides. But new microscopic technologies allow researchers to unscramble light to create a lattice of images that can be viewed as videos of 3D images. The results are increased biological imaging that allows scientists to see cells in natural environments instead of the stress of a staged slide.