How to Clean Microscope Slides

Microscope slides must be clean before you add a sample to ensure a good slide.
••• luchschen/iStock/Getty Images

It’s important to thoroughly clean microscope slides after every use because otherwise you risk contaminating the slide the next time it’s used. Bits of the sample you use on this slide could mix with the sample used on the next slide and ruin it. Fortunately, cleaning slides properly takes only a small effort.

Washing Brand New Slides

    Place a small drop of cleaning solution on each microscope slide. This can be dish washing fluid, or it can be a more specialized cleaning solution for slides, such as an ethyl alcohol solution.

    Apply the soap uniformly across both sides of the glass with something that won’t scratch the slide, such as a lint-free microfiber towel.

    Rinse the slide thoroughly using warm running water. Continue until all of the cleaning fluid is gone, including any extra bubbles that appear.

    Blot the slide with a paper towel until it is dry. Alternatively, you can dry the slides with microfiber towels. Make sure that the towel you use is clean for each new slide. You may have to switch to a new towel after a certain number of slides.

    Place each finished slide back into the slide case. Each case will typically carry 25 slides. Make sure that each slide goes into its proper place. If you try overloading the case with more slides than it can take, the slides could bang against each other and crack.

Washing Old Slides

    Place all dirty microscope slides in a water basin full of warm water and detergent. Place them in the basin carefully so that none of them touch.

    Leave the slides in the basin for an entire day. This should be sufficient time to allow the blood, oil or other material to loosen.

    Use gauze to rub each slide individually on both sides until they are clean. Make sure you only leave the slides in the water for a few days at the most. If you leave the slides in water with detergent in it for weeks or longer, you risk letting the water evaporate. This will leave a detergent residue on the slides that will be difficult to remove.

    Wrap cleaned slides in sheets of clean paper until they are ready to be used again. This allows you to store the slides closer together if a case isn’t available. Make sure to store slides somewhere dry. If you don’t, the slides will stick together due to humidity. You will then need to rewash the slides before they can be used, since they could be contaminated by the moist air.

    Things You'll Need

    • Gauze
    • Paper towels
    • Detergent
    • Wash basin

    Tips

    • Hold cleaned slides by the edges to avoid leaving fingerprints or oils on the surface.

Related Articles

Precautions When Using a Microscope
How to Use Reclaimed Asphalt Products
How to Sterilize Petri Dishes
How to Polish a Petoskey Stone
How to Observe Human Cheek Cells Under a Light Microscope
How to Remove Acetone Residue
Science Fair Projects on Hand Sanitizers or Liquid...
Easy Kids' Science Fair Experiments About Germs
Simple Microscope Experiments
What Is a Glass Slide in Biology?
How to Clean Lab Equipment
Daycare Cleaning Checklist
How to Make Saline Solution?
What Equipment to Take on a Gem Mining Trip
What Are the Precautions to Remember When Using a Micropipette?
How to Clean Quartz Crystals
What is Saline Solution?
How to Store a Microscope
How to Use a Microscope to See Cells
How to Crush Rocks