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How to Maintain a Microscope

Maintenance of a microscope is key to preserving its lifespan and getting the best possible performance from it. Learn everything you need to know in today’s guide.

Microscope maintenance

If you’re to be certain that your new microscope will continue to work properly for many years to come, you’ll need to know how to maintain and care for it properly.

Knowing how to store and handle it in the right way will prevent many problems from occurring, however, occasionally, you will need to carry out some cleaning and mechanical adjustment to ensure that all your microscope’s components stay in full working order.

In this guide to proper maintenance of a microscope, you’ll learn all about the use and care of a microscope so that you can take the best possible care of your purchase.

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How to Store and Handle a Microscope

The majority of issues which occur with microscopes are down to improper handling and storage. When you’re carrying your microscope, take care to hold it properly by its base and metal support arm. Never pick it up with the stage as the result could be a misalignment of the stage itself. When transporting the microscope between different locations, use a carrying case for added protection.

Recommended: Take a look at our new guide to digital microscopes.

Microscope close up

When storing the microscope between uses, always put its dust cover over it to extend its lifespan. Even when you’re storing it in a cabinet, its dust cover will still offer some extra protection from the damage that dust can cause. Never store your microscope without its eyepieces as this will allow the collection of dust in the eye tubes and this will be hard to clean out. If you must remove the eyepieces, cover the eye tubes with a cap.

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Ensure there are no chemical fumes in the area where you’re storing your microscope as this could damage the metal parts or lenses. You should also take care to ensure that the bulb has fully cooled down before you put your microscope into storage as this will prolong its lifespan.

close up of lab microscope

How to Clean a Microscope

Knowing how to clean a microscope lens is very important since it can be easily scratched and must be treated carefully. Avoid using anything abrasive or sharp when cleaning the lens. If you’re asking what do you use to clean a microscope lens the answer is to use lens paper and a lens cleaning solution.

Moisten the lens paper with the cleaning solution and then use a circular motion to clean the microscope lens. You should then dry it using a dry and clean piece of lens paper. Once you’ve finished, you should use an aspirator so lingering particles and dirt is removed.

To work out whether you need to clean the eyepieces, you should loosen the small eyepiece screw and rotate the eyepiece through a circle as you look through it. If you see any dust particles rotating while the eyepiece is rotated, take it out of the microscope and use lens paper to clean each side of its lens. Only use distilled water to clean the lens.

maintaining a microscope

Mechanical Maintenance Tasks

It’s very important to know how to clean microscope lens, however, some mechanical maintenance is also required. Every microscope comes complete with a user manual, and consulting this manual is always important before you make any adjustments to the microscope.

Whatever you do, never use force or over-tighten when you carry out any routine mechanical maintenance on the microscope as this could result in damage to its metal parts.

Recommended Next: Check out our guide to the best microscopes for kids and students.

Adjusting the Nosepiece

Sometimes, your microscope’s nosepiece will become too tight or loose. Luckily, in most cases, you’ll find a mechanism to adjust it on the nosepiece itself. Simply tightening or loosening the slot-head screw in the center of the nosepiece generally solves the issues. However, you should always read the user manual first to check for full instructions before making any adjustments.

Microscope

 

Adjusting the Microscope’s Focus Knob

It’s possible to adjust the tension of both the coarse and fine focusing knobs. It’s possible to adjust some microscopes by simply turning the knob on each of the microscope’s sides in the opposite direction. However, some microscopes feature adjustable collars on their shaft. These need a special type of wrench if adjustments are to be made, although it will usually be supplied with the microscope on its purchase. If you move the collars outward, more tension will usually be provided.

Lubricating the Surfaces

You should always take the time to clean and lubricate all the moving parts of your microscope at least once per year. Always clean away the dirt and grease from the sliding surfaces by using a dry, clean cloth. Next, apply an extremely thin layer of grease (lithium-based) onto all the sliding surfaces. Avoid greasing the rack and pinion gears’ teeth.

Once you have lubricated the moving parts, you may find that the coarse adjustment will move a little too freely. It’s possible to rectify this by adjusting the tension knob just as we described above.

How to Replace the Bulbs

You will usually find instructions about how to replace the bulbs of your microscope in the instruction manual which is supplied with your model. Always check to ensure you’re using the proper replacement bulb for your own microscope. Also, take care to give the bulb time to cool down before you replace it.

Never touch the bulb’s glass with your bare hand. This is because dust particles and fingerprints which have been left on the bulb may burn into it, reducing its lifespan and affecting the light quality the bulb can produce. LED bulbs are the longest lasting. They usually last for as long as 100,000 hours whereas tungsten bulbs will usually only last a maximum of 100 hours.

Proper Maintenance Is Key To Protecting Your Microscope’s Lifespan

If you care properly for your microscope you’ll find that it lasts a long time and gives you many years of excellent function. As long as you clean your microscope regularly and store and handle it properly, it’ll be protected from any possible damage in the long term and will continue to work at its optimal level for years to come.

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