General Lab Bench Cleaning Procedures

If you work in a lab handling hazardous chemicals on a daily basis, you probably already have a good idea of the kind of protective gear you should be wearing. When cleaning a lab, it is important to take the proper precautions, not only for the safety of yourself and fellow personnel but for the safety of the lab itself.

First, be sure that all laboratory workstations are free of exposed wires and other electrical cords. These cords should be tied or otherwise secured.

Cleaning around cords and wires is not only ill-advised from a safety standpoint, but can also impact the level of cleanliness you may be able to achieve. Similarly, individual workstations should be dusted and organized regularly and maintained by individual personnel. 

Removal of small equipment and tools is also an important step for safe cleaning practices. Test tubes, pipettes, containers, and other equipment should be cleaned separately and removed from workbenches after use to avoid possible breakage and clutter.

The areas surrounding workbenches should also be decluttered regularly to avoid possible walking hazards and to keep equipment and other items safe from spills. 

Protecting yourself from harsh chemicals is also an important consideration when cleaning your lab. Protective wear such as latex gloves, goggles, hair/head protection, and lab coats should be worn to prevent chemical burns and exposure to harsh substances.

To ensure safety in case of unwanted exposure to harsh chemicals, be sure all hand and eyewash stations are always kept unobstructed. 

Epoxy Resin Countertops

Epoxy resin is a popular choice due to its incredible resistance to harsh chemicals and high heat. Durable and long-lasting, epoxy resin countertops are commonly found in educational labs, pharmaceutical labs, industrial testing facilities, food testing labs, and more. It is a great material for use in laboratory sinks.

How to Clean Epoxy Resin

  • Mild soaps, water, vinegar, and household cleaners can be used for regular surface cleaning
  • Isopropyl alcohol or acetone can be used on tough spots and stains
  • Remove marring with a soft cloth, dampened (non-abrasive) sponge, or clean rags
  • WD-40 or mineral oil may be used to polish the surface of epoxy resin

Things to Avoid

  • Abrasives including harsh sponges, pads, powders, and liquids
  • Do not use sharp objects on epoxy resin surfaces, and avoid dragging heavy equipment
  • Do not use wax or polishes containing wax
  • Wipe up spills immediately to avoid staining, corrosion, and drying

Phenolic Resin Countertops

Though slightly less chemical resistant than epoxy resin, phenolic resin is a super-durable material that can handle high heat, moisture, and the wear and tear of regular use. Phenolic resin countertops are a popular choice for water treatment facilities, agricultural research labs, urology labs, hematology labs, and a variety of other healthcare lab applications. 

How to Clean Phenolic Resin

  • Regularly cleaning can be done using soft cloths and non-abrasive household cleaning products
  • Water and soap solutions can be used to remove marring, and more difficult cases of marring can be addressed with small amounts of acetone
  • Because of its moisture resistance, phenolic resin countertops respond well to steam cleaning
  • Should nicks, scrapes, dents, or scratches occur over time, phenolic resin countertops can be sanded down and refinished for a smooth surface

Things to Avoid

  • Do not use sharp tools or objects on phenolic resin surfaces, and avoid dragging heavy equipment
  • Do not use abrasives like bleach, abrasive powders, tile cleaners, steel wool, etc.
  • Do not use wax or polishes containing wax

Stainless Steel Countertops

Stainless steel is a popular countertop material due to its non-porous surface making it particularly resistant to bacterial growth and scratching. Strong, easy to clean, and extremely tolerant of high heat and temperature changes, stainless steel countertops can commonly be found in clean rooms, chemical labs, pharmaceuticals, food testing, and more. 

How to Clean Stainless Steel

  • Use a soft cloth and wipe in the direction of the steel “grain” to clean spills
  • Mild detergents, soaps, and hot water are ideal for regular cleaning
  • Stains and caked-on residue can be removed using vinegar, baking soda, toothpaste, and liquid dish soap
  • For polishing, use commercial stainless steel polishes, lemon oil, or specialty stainless steel sprays

Things to Avoid

  • Do not use chlorine-based cleaning products on stainless steel surfaces, chlorine and chlorine bleach can cause permanent, irreversible damage
  • Do not use abrasive tools like steel wool, abrasive pads, abrasive powders (i.e. baking powder), or abrasive liquids
  • Avoid harsh or dirty water as these can leave annoying stains and marks on your stainless steel surface

Maple Countertops

Maple and other hardwoods are popular choices in commercial kitchens, industrial applications, and office settings. Stain-resistant and extremely durable, maple is a great choice to add a natural element to your facility if you are not handling harsh chemicals. Commonly called maple block or butcher block, this is a go-to worktop for heavy-duty applications.

How to Clean Maple 

  • Hot water, soap, and bleach should be used for regular disinfecting of maple surfaces to prevent bacterial growth and stains
  • Mineral oil treatments can help preserve the surface of maple countertops and can help with water resistance 
  • If cuts, scratches, or pits occur over time, maple countertops can easily be sanded and refinished 

Things to Avoid

  • Avoid prolonged exposure to water 
  • Do not use synthetic finishes on maple countertops used in food preparation. Other waterproofing finishes may be used in these cases

Speak to a Countertop Expert

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