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Are You in the Market for A... Lab Washer?

Anyone who works in a lab quickly learns the value of labware washers. Today, washers are almost as common in laboratories as they are in kitchens.

by Other Author

Anyone who works in a lab quickly learns the value of labware washers. Today, washers are almost as common in laboratories as they are in kitchens. Any lab that uses glassware for analysis, science, or engineering is a potential user. Washers are found in schools, research institutions, pharmaceutical companies, and water and wastewater analytical labs, and are used in many industries such as public health, forensics, chemical R&D, petrochemicals, electronics, medical devices, optics and cosmetics. Washers are usually specified according to their capacity. Under-counter models sport about 4.5 cubic feet of wash chamber, medium-capacity models range from about 5 to 10 cubic feet, and larger capacities have above 10 cubic feet. Another way to categorize washers is by where they are located: in centralized cleaning rooms or at the point of use. Organizations with a central washer often hire a technician to pick up and deliver glassware.

 The top ten factors/features our readers look for in a lab washer:

Durability of product 96%
Consistent washing and disinfection results 93%
Low maintenance–easy to use and clean 93%
Service and support 93%
Price 93%
Warranty 90%
Reliability of vendor 89%
Safety features 79%
Energy efficient / low operating cost 73%
Reputation of vendor 71%

Types of lab washers our readers are using or planning to purchase:

  Using Planning to Purchase
Small capacity washer 21% 4%
Medium capacity washer 27% 14%
High throughput washer 6% 4%
Large capacity washer 9% 3%
Don’t know 6% 5%
Other 1% 0%

The applications survey respondents use their washers for include:

Cleaning moderate volumes of small items 40%
Cleaning large volumes of small items 26%
Cleaning large, difficult-to-clean items 19%
Glassware sterilization 11%
Sterilization of liquids in vented glass containers 4%

Most of our readers use their lab washer several times each day:

Several times daily 41%
Several times each week 32%
Once a day 10%
Once a week 10%
Two to three times a month 5%
Less than once a month 2%

The amount of time spent per day on hand washing glassware in the labs of survey respondents without a lab washer:

Less than 1 hour 64%
1 - 2 hours 29%
2 - 3 hours 6%
Over 3 hours 1%

Washer detergents formulated specifically for laboratory washers can meet specific needs. There are a wide variety of detergents–phosphate-free, chlorine-free, surfactant-free and non-ionic or ionic. These detergents leave no residue on the glassware so they are safe for sensitive applications such as tissue culture or instrumental analysis. Some laboratory washers automatically dispense liquid detergent and weak acid neutralizing rinse solutions. This eliminates the need to manually fill the detergent cup and rinse the dispenser before each use. Using a built-in pump, the washer automatically meters the precise amount of detergent and acidic rinse solution into the washer at the appropriate cycle.

The following brands of lab washer detergents are used by our respondents in their labs:

Alconox powder detergent 59%
Alcojet mechanical washer detergent 14%
Citranox liquid acid detergent 16%
Lipsol detergent, concentrate 7%
Liqui-Nox phosphate-free liquid detergent 30%
Sporicidin disinfecting solution and towelettes 6%
Other 9%

Lab washer components respondents are currently using include the following:

Lower baskets 28%
Upper baskets 27%
Direct injection (for beakers, pipettes, flasks) 26%
Test tube baskets 12%
Slides and Petri dish baskets 4%
Don’t know 2%
Other 1%


For more information on lab washers, including useful articles and a list of manufacturers, visit