When dirt or dust gets trapped on your microscope lens or camera sensor, the object you are examining will be obscured. To avoid any confusing additions to your magnified image, it is essential that you regularly clean your microscope.
When performing microscope maintenance, there are certain areas and cleaning utensils that should be avoided. It is subsequently important that you are informed on the best microscope cleaning practice.
Unless your product manufacturer suggests otherwise, the best way to clean a microscope is with a lens wipe. Fold the wipe and use a clean corner to rub the lens in circular motions. Repeat this step with another clean corner and then use the same wipe to clean the body and stage of your microscope.
How To Clean a Pocket Microscope
The most important part of your pocket microscope to clean is the lens – both the eyepiece and the objective lens. The closer the dirt is to the lens (or the camera sensor if you have a digital pocket microscope), the more the magnified image will be muddied.
Although keeping the lens clean is crucial, you should only clean it when it is dirty – not after every use. You should also make sure you use suitable materials as certain chemicals can be harmful to your microscope.
If you spill liquid on the lens during the examination, this must be cleaned up immediately. If the liquid has a chance to dry, specks of dirt may get stuck on the lens and become difficult to remove. Use a dry tissue to soak up the liquid before any dirt can deposit on the damp lens.
If your objective or eyepiece lenses are dirty, you can remove dirt with a water and alcohol lens wipe. Using solvents or other cleaning agents can cause damage to the coating of your optical surfaces.
Lens wipes can be purchased on Amazon or from your local chemist. Kim-wipes are specially designed for delicate tasks and tend to work well.
To clean the lens, fold your wipe in half a couple of times so that you have a sturdy corner to dab the optical surface with. Begin in the center of the lens and gently rub in circular motions, outwards from the center.
When you repeat this step, make sure you use a different part of the wipe. If you use the same part, you risk re-depositing the dirt you just cleaned.
When you have finished cleaning your lenses, use the same wipe to clean the stage and body of the microscope. If your microscope has a stage, slide and/or coverslip, these also need to be attended to.
Again, it is important that you use a clean corner and use circular motions rather than zigzags. Dirt that is close to the object of examination will also dramatically obstruct the image.
If there are sticky substances on your lenses such as oily materials, you should use a small amount of xylol with the lens cloth to remove the culprit. As xylol is a solvent, you must first check the specific cleaning instructions on your product to check that this is acceptable.
Always be gentle when cleaning and never attempt to clean the internal lens surfaces. This should only be done by professionals as these areas are delicate and affect the sharpness of the image.
How Can I Tell If There Is Dirt On My Lens?
Dirt on the objective lens can be detected by inspecting an evenly lit surface through your microscope. Even the smallest bit of dirt will be magnified. If your image is anything less than optimal, there is a high chance that you have dirt or oil on your optics.
Understanding what the image should look like in maximum definition is thus necessary as a point of comparison.
If you have cleaned your objective lens and the image is still affected, it is likely that there is dirt on another optic surface or that there is an alignment issue.
To check your specimen slide and cover slip, focus your microscope on the upper surfaces of the specimen and then the lower succession. Repeat this multiple times. If the dirt comes in and out of focus as you switch, clean your stage, slide and cover slip.
If after cleaning the external optical surfaces there is still an issue, it may be time to see an expert. Do not attempt to clean the internal lenses yourself as there is a high risk of damaging image quality.
What is the Best Way To Store A Pocket Microscope To Keep It Protected?
While you are not using your pocket microscope, it is important that you keep it covered. Dust and debris will accumulate on microscopes that are not regularly used and this will impact the lenses.
Many pocket microscopes will come with a cover but if not, you can find them on Amazon by searching for “portable microscope case.”
When you are not carrying your microscope with you, store it in a cool, dry place in its case. Humidity and moisture can build up on the lenses and cause blurring.
If your microscope is battery-powered, make sure you change them regularly. If the light starts to dim, it is time for a battery change. If the batteries leak, it will wreak havoc for your optic lenses.