Microscope Maintenance Part 1: Routine Care and Replacing Bulbs

March 8, 2016 ZEISS Microscopy

Make it even more visible: Help maintaining the optical brilliance of your ZEISS microscope with our guides

ZEISS: Service you can count on

Do you want the best imaging experience each time you use a microscope? Well, this is a rhetorical question, as we all desire that these delicate optical instruments are clean, free from immersion oil and correctly aligned.
From the routine checking of slides and, more importantly, for capturing images for presentations and publications, microscopes need to be cared for by all users. This is especially important in a shared microscope facility. Although there may be a dedicated microscope technician present, such facilities are typically very busy and you should leave the microscope as you expect to find it.

I’ve got it covered

Image clarity’s main enemy is dust. Laboratories are reasonably clean environments, but dust can be carried in from outside and will ultimately find its way to the optical components of a microscope. The easiest way to prevent microscopes from becoming dust collectors is to use the dust cover which came with the microscope. These often-neglected plastic covers can sometimes be found stuffed under the bench or tucked away in a forgotten corner of the lab, where they are keeping a section of the bench nicely dust- and dirt-free. If the microscope doesn’t have a dust cover, replacement ones can be purchased from microscopy suppliers, or the simplest (and cheapest) option is to use a thick bin liner. Get into the habit of replacing the dust cover after each imaging session and persuade other users to do the same.

ZEISS: Service you can count on.

Know what you are doing

If you sit down and find yourself faced with a dirty microscope, or an incorrectly aligned light source, routine cleaning and microscope maintenance can be carried out even by a relatively inexperienced beginner. However, be warned! Don’t be tempted to strip down and clean optical components unless you know how to do this correctly. Improper cleaning of lenses and components can do more harm than good. Some of the corrected and immersion objectives can cost as much as a complete research-grade microscope, so always follow the manufacturer recommendations (or those of the microscope technician/lab manager). If in doubt—ask! For a more in-depth look at cleaning optical components, follow this link.

One routine maintenance task that can be carried out by the user is the replacement and alignment of the microscope bulb. Our partner site BitesizeBio in a recent article covers this part, including video tutorials by our ZEISS service experts.

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