Research labs are harsh places. Chemicals, heat, heavy equipment, even fire and gases can take a toll on your lab furniture. Just because you’ve invested in lab benches and dedicated lab furniture that’s resistant to harsh treatment doesn’t mean these specialized laboratory items will last forever. Like any piece of lab equipment, they need proper care and regular maintenance to provide maximum service. Here are some great tips to both maintain your laboratory furniture, and protect it when accidents do occur.
Durable Doesn’t Mean Impervious
Most lab benches, including IonBench products, are constructed with an epoxy resin countertop. These rugged countertops are resistant to chemicals, moisture, and fires, and are tougher than many metals. However, they still require care in order to maintain their shine and resistance—and they are vulnerable to scratching.
Therefore, bear in mind that cleaning liquids and supplies containing abrasives may scratch or dull the surface of your lab bench’s countertop. This means you need to avoid certain brands of abrasive cleaners, such as Soft Scrub and Comet, and never use most scouring pads. You also need to avoid wax or any polishes that contain wax.
Regular Cleaning Is Important
Periodic maintenance should take place in your lab, both on a daily basis and either weekly or monthly, depending on the level of use. For daily cleaning, we recommend mild dish soap. We also recommend that you use chamois cloths, as they are both gentle and very absorbent. However, rags and towels will also work.
For your weekly or monthly cleaning, we suggest that you maintain the surface with a light application of mineral oil. This will restore the luster of the resin surface of your lab furniture. You can also use a product like Murphy Oil Soap, but whatever oil you choose, make sure to use a small amount, otherwise surfaces will appear dull or hazy over time.
Apply the oil to a rag rather than the surface itself, and rub the oil into the countertop with a circular motion. Wipe away excess oil and then use your chamois to restore the countertop’s shine.
Handling the Inevitable Spills and Scratches
Lab benches are designed with accidents in mind, but how you clean up afterward does matter. Always clean spills immediately; the longer a spill is in contact with the countertop, the more chance it has of staining the surface, possibly even cracking it.
Always start with the gentlest cleaning method, which usually means soap and water. If you have a major spill, clean it up ASAP. Avoid highly volatile cleaners such as acetone or paint thinner. You may not wish to see these compounds in your spectra, especially if you are using an open air ionization source.
Countertops can also be marred or scratched. Because epoxy resin is so hard, most metals will leave a line or mark (which is usually darker and smooth to the touch) if they are pulled across the surface.
Removing these marks should be as simple as using one of the cleaners above, combined with some energetic rubbing. Remember to start with the weaker cleaners, and only use acetone if needed. If you need a scrubbing pad, use a white Scotch-Brite® Light Duty pad, and never use it dry.
Epoxy resin countertops can be scratched by harder metals and sharp edges. Unfortunately, an indented scratch (which usually appears lighter and can be felt when touched) is permanent. The good news, however, is that scratches will not hinder the performance of the countertop in any way. You can attempt to color in the scratch with a permanent marker, but the color and sheen will be different.
Extending the Life of Your Lab Benches
Purchasing dedicated lab furniture is an investment in the quality of your research and the safety of your lab. Caring for the work surface of each lab bench is a critical part of this investment. Take the time to clean and maintain your lab bench countertops, and please contact us with any questions you have about dedicated lab furniture.