Debbie Knight

Want a glamorous lab job? Try out this one!

In research log on May 17, 2012 at 9:00 am

A tub of dirty dishes.

Whether those dishes are found at home or in the lab, they generally sit there until someone takes the initiative to wash them.

In our lab, since we have to wash them by hand (rather than in an automatic laboratory dishwasher that some research buildings have), we usually wait until the tub is overflowing with dishes (as this one is) or when we need something that is in the bin. It’s not a matter of neglect, it’s a matter of how busy we are designing and performing experiments. We don’t have the luxury of having a paid undergraduate student employee to do this task.

And I admit, there are times when I purposely ignore the growing collection of glassware trying to out-wait my lab mates as to who will wash the dishes this time. (Shhh! It’s our little secret)

Dishwashing is not a glamorous task, but it is nice when you want something mindless to do.

Here’s how we do it in our lab.

So, a laboratory staple when it comes to dishwashing is a detergent called “Alconox.” We could use regular dishwashing detergent like you find in the grocery store, but this one leaves less residue on the glassware — important in the lab setting since we re-use these bottles to make various lab solutions and culture media. Any soap residue might adversely affect those solutions and the experiments in which we might use them.

Alconox, an iconic laboratory detergent

We use a bottle brush to scrub out the glassware, especially the bottles. We have a couple of sizes of bottle brushes. One looks like something the Jolly Green Giant would use for his dishes. The one in the photo is a more manageable size.

Bottles are scrubbed out with a bottle brush

After all the bottles have been scrubbed, they are rinsed several times with tap water and then several times with deionized water. We do the final rinse in deionized water to remove any impurities that the cheaper tap water might have left in the bottle.

Rinsing out the suds with tap water

After all the dishes are washed, there is a sense of accomplishment. You have a drying rack full of clean dishes …

… and, more importantly, an empty bin!

An empty dish bin is a lovely sight

  1. […] Want a glamorous lab job? Try out this one! […]

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