How to Maintain a Laboratory Water Bath

How to Maintain a Laboratory Water Bath

Water Bath

A reliable water bath is the heart of your laboratory. However, its multi-application use makes it more prone to contamination from pathogens and impurities. Knowing how to clean a water bath in a laboratory helps to ensure the longevity of this vital piece of equipment and the accuracy of your results. 

Discover the best practices for maintaining your laboratory water bath, enabling optimal performance across applications and reduced downtime in your facility.

Why Does a Clean and Well-Maintained Water Bath Matter?

Water baths — like all laboratory equipment — require regular cleaning and maintenance. Here are five crucial reasons why:

  • Lower chance of contamination: Water baths provide a warm, moist environment — the ideal conditions for human microbes to flourish. Regularly disinfecting the water prevents harmful pathogens from multiplying and contaminating your solution.
  • Improved longevity: Water becomes less oxygenated when heated, making it more likely to erode the protective layer on your stainless steel bath. Changing the water weekly helps to ensure a longer equipment life span.
  • Accurate results: The reliability of your results depends on how well your water bath functions. An effective cleaning and maintenance routine eliminates the likelihood of salts and other particles impacting your readings.
  • Health and safety: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration outlines strict guidelines to ensure the safety of laboratory workers. Maintaining your water bath and other equipment is necessary for compliance.
  • Optimal performance: Evaporation occurs while the water bath is operating, potentially causing the equipment to run dry and malfunction. Sustaining the desired water level prevents costly downtime.


Using the Right Materials to Maintain Your Water Bath

Steel wool, hard-bristled brushes and chlorine-based solutions erode the protective lining on stainless steel water baths. Ensure the longevity of your equipment by using a soft cloth and mild cleaning solutions for weekly maintenance. Situations involving severe scaling may require a soft brush for effective removal.

When selecting your cleaning materials, refer to the manufacturer's guidelines for your specific model.

How to Clean a Water Bath in a Laboratory

From de-staining gels to incubating bacterial cultures, there are numerous functions of a water bath in a laboratory. However, the cleaning process is the same regardless of how you use it. Here are the steps to maintain your laboratory water bath.

How To Maintain A Water Bath

1. Unplug Your Equipment

Water and electricity are a dangerous combination. Remember to unplug your water bath to minimize the chance of injury or electrocution.

While cleaning the equipment, you should also keep electrical components dry to prevent the water bath from malfunctioning when you plug it into the outlet again.

2. Disinfect the Water

Before emptying your water bath and commencing the cleaning process, you will need to sterilize the liquid. Boiling the water for at least 20 minutes will help eliminate micro-organisms, such as algae and fungi. Alternatively, adding a specialized bath disinfectant to the water will achieve the same effect.

3. Empty Your Water Bath 

The size of your water bath will determine how to empty it. Larger water baths will likely have a draining outlet, allowing you to position the bath over a sink or container to empty the water. Smaller baths don't always have this feature, so you'll need to tilt the equipment over a basin to remove the contents.

In the event that neither of these options is suitable, you'll need to siphon the water out of the bath using rubber tubing.

4. Use Type III Water

Low-quality water contains minerals that degrade stainless steel water baths over time. In addition, there is a higher chance of bacteria in impure water sources, affecting the reliability of test results. Type III water is water purified by reverse osmosis.

Whether cleaning your water bath or replenishing the water levels, use type III water to maintain your equipment. 

5. Use the Recommended Water Bath Additive

The Boekel Scientific Water Bath Cleaner is a suitable biocide that staff can use as an additive in heated water baths up to boiling temperatures. Adding this solution to your water bath per instructions will prevent organic material buildup and reduce contamination between cleanings. While cleaning your water baths every week is still recommended, the addition of this solution can extend maintenance to every two weeks — so long as you analyze water levels and water clarity.

6. Check for Wear and Tear 

Proper cleaning helps to extend the life of your water bath, yet there will likely be some wear and tear over time. The age of your water bath and frequency of use also impact how often you need to service it.

During routine cleaning, look out for leaks or other disparities and address them at the onset. You should also monitor the temperature to ensure the heating element and other electrical components are working as they should.

What Are the Best Accessories for a Well-Maintained Water Bath?

In addition to following a regular cleaning schedule, several water bath accessories are available for optimal results. Two of the most effective products are polypropylene spheres and water bath cleaners.

Polypropylene spheres are small plastic beads that reduce the likelihood of water escaping from the bath. This lowers the risk of other surface contamination, ensuring better health and safety for your workers. These small spheres also help to keep samples upright for better testing conditions.

While most mild household cleaners are compatible with water baths, there is a level of risk with trying new solutions. Specialized water bath cleaner products have a single purpose — gently and safely cleaning your equipment. Incorporating this cleaning solution into your equipment care routine helps to safeguard your water bath and your warranty.

Water Bath Safety Procedures

Whether you're operating or cleaning your water bath, there are some potential safety risks. Follow these procedures for increased assurance:

  • Ensure your hands are dry before switching the water bath on or off.
  • Reduce risks of fires by maintaining the water level.
  • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment, such as gloves and goggles.
  • Discontinue operation if you notice cracks during cleaning. 
  • Follow the manufacturer's care guidelines.


Maintain Your Water Bath With Boekel Scientific

Water baths are a crucial piece of scientific equipment used in various applications. While most staff know how to use a water bath in a laboratory, there often needs to be more clarity on how to clean it. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can optimize your cleaning routine and ensure the longer life span of your equipment.

Over the past 150 years, Boekel Scientific has designed, manufactured and sourced cutting-edge medical equipment and laboratory supplies. Our quality product range is paired with our superior after-sales service, helping each business get the most value from their equipment. With a wide range of water baths to choose from, including standard, shaking and concentrated ring models, you can ensure the best results for your specific applications.

Contact our professional team today for a no-obligation quote or equipment guidance specific to your needs.

Maintain Your Water Bath