Proper maintenance of microscopes, an important resource for any laboratory, is vital to ensure a long life for this significant laboratory investment.
Dust and debris are the major contributors to microscope wear and tear. Dust from the air can collect on any microscope, especially one not used often; this causes damage and deterioration on image quality over time. The microscope must be protected with a dust cover whenever it is not in use, regardless of being stored in a closed cabinet or an open environment.
Even with a dust cover, microscopes are still susceptible to collecting contaminants such as dust, debris, oil buildup from hands, and stray eyelashes. Removing these contaminants properly minimizes the risk of scratching the lens and/or restricting the overall performance of the device.
A microscope in active use often collects dirt, dust and oil from hands that can cause damage on the knobs, nosepiece, levels, control rods, microscope stand, and other areas of the device over time. These areas must be regularly cleaned with either a damp cloth or a mild soap, particularly if stubborn dirt and oil cannot be removed. Close attention must be given to grooves or hatches on knobs and levels as they can house skin oil and dust that is harder to remove.
Microscope lenses are made of a coated soft glass that can easily be damaged or scratched during cleaning, thus disrupting the microscope picture clarity and capabilities. When cleaning the optical lens, sharp or coarse instruments must never be used, as rough cloths like paper towels or any cleaning solvent not specified for lenses.
Specified lens paper and cleaner must be used to clean with gentle, circular motions. Specific tools, including a camel-hair brush or compressed air, may be used for more in-depth cleaning or removing larger amounts of debris. The compressed air must be microscope specific, as some products contain oil residue or additives that may damage the lens.
Immersion oil use requires specific steps to ensure removal in order to eliminate risk for oil damage to the device or mechanical components. Immersion oil left on the lens can dry and create issues with the microscope optics. The safest and most effective way to remove immersion oil is to clean with lens tissue, without an added solvent. The lens must be wiped with a clean cloth until no more immersion oil is apparent in order to ensure that the lens is completely clean.
Careful adherence to manufacturer standards of care and preventive care guidelines for the microscope model can allow much longer use of and satisfaction with the microscope.