With the delicate nature of pipettes, it’s easy to damage them. This brings unnecessary costs to your lab and can cause lab managers some real frustration. Using the proper storage and handling protocols can extend the life of your equipment. Its simple, but important. Here’s a quick overview of some recognized best practices when it comes to storing, using and taking care of pipettes:

  • Do choose the right tool for the job. Pipettes are available in a wide range of sizes and configurations — do your research and make sure scientists at your facility have access to the tools they need to get the job done right. TTE can train you on which air displacement pipette to choose for which volume, and show you other pipettes that may give you better results, such as positive displacement tools.
  • Don’t overfill a pipette or attempt to use it for anything other than its intended purpose. Its not a stirring rod, hammer, or toy. Make sure the correct accessories are available, and that tips are properly matched to form a tight seal that prevents leaks.
  • Do use a pipette stand for storage. Pipette stands keep these delicate instruments in a vertical position, which in turn allows any trace amounts of liquid in the barrel to drain out, and allow GMP labs to track their instrument’s locations for regular calibration and documentation.
  • Don’t place a pipette on its side while liquid is in the tip! Doing so regularly can cause liquid to enter the pipette barrel, necessitating extensive cleaning and decontamination, and increasing the risk of premature corrosion., not to mention expensive pipette failures and deviations.
  • Do clean and decontaminate pipettes before use. Its not complicated. Simply wipe down the exterior with a 70-percent ethanol or 10-percent bleach solution—especially the end of the shaft. Check out our pipette cleaning blog post for more information.
  • NEVER dismantle a pipette. Interior cleaning should be left to a qualified lab that will document all data and actions taken on the instrument during a full calibration and preventative maintenance procedure. Disasssembly of a pipette will invalidate the calibration, create an unknown mystery that is impossible to document, and the pipette will need to be serviced again anyhow.
  • Do inspect pipettes thoroughly before use. Look for signs of damage such as corrosion, bent or damaged parts—especially the end of the shaft where the tip is loaded, and other wear.

Most of all, don’t neglect routine calibration. While your lab spends money to maintain instruments, its an investment that reaps results. Pipettes should be calibrated every six to 12 months, depending on the frequency of use and your lab requirements. Check the manufacturer’s guide or your auditing body to put together an appropriate maintenance schedule, and make sure you communicate it to everyone in your lab. If you need help and advice, TTE will be glad to consult with you.

Following the above tips will help ensure your pipettes remain operational for longer and continue to deliver accurate results, day in and day out, and will provide a sound return on your investment.