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Selecting the Appropriate Labware Detergent

The Right Labware Detergent

When you’re running a chemical laboratory, the last thing you want to be chronically worried about is whether or not your labware detergent is doing its job. Dirty glassware can cause chemical interactions you don’t anticipate or intend, and it can interfere with the manufacturing of chemically-based products. Choosing appropriate detergents for the labware you choose to use is a decision you probably only want to have to make once. Although it’s a less than glamorous process, the decision is an important one that can have negative consequences if it’s not approached the right way.

Type of Residue

When choosing a labware cleaner, you must first consider what type of residue you’ll be removing. For instance, if you’re working to remove fingerprints, dust, or light greases, you can choose to use a cleaner with a neutral pH. If you need to remove soap residue, a mildly acidic product may be better. You also need to consider the actual material with which your labware is made. A neutral solution may work for glass, ceramic, and plastic labware, while an acidic solution might be better for some types of metal.



Remember that if you’re looking for a truly clean, uncontaminated final result, deionized water is the way to go during the rinsing process. While tap water is usually fine for the cleaning step, your final rinsing process should take place with water that has been divested of nearly all mineral ions. When you use deionized water, you can expect to eliminate spotting as a problem. It’s frustrating to send labware through the cleaning and rinsing process only to end up with spots. If you miss spotting, the result can be more than just a frustration if you end up with an unintended chemical reaction during your subsequent production process. So, make deionized water a regular part of your cleaning process, and you’ll save yourself a some trouble in the future.

Disposal Etiquette

If you’re disposing of your cleaning solution in a public system, you should make sure the substances you’re using are biodegradable and made to be emptied into a sewer system. Some cleaning substances require neutralization with some type of acid or lye. You should also make sure to clear your distribution of cleaning substances into a sewer system with local water and sewer authorities. Cities and counties often have varying regulations regarding what they will allow to be released into a sewer system because this water will eventually end up in a municipal or county wastewater treatment facility and must be treatable by that facility’s standards. So, before locating laboratory supplies distributors and contracting to purchase large amounts of cleaning solutions, make sure to know what your labware is made of and what the material will tolerate. Also, make sure you know what the substances you need to remove from your labware will react best to.