Choosing the right glassware washer

Laboratory Dishwashers at Stanford

If you've never purchased a laboratory glassware washer before, or if it's been a long while since you have, there are six things you should consider before choosing one:

  1. Resources
  2. Conservation
  3. Form
  4. Function
  5. Your laboratory's specific needs and
  6. Price

Here are some tips and guidelines to the benefits, features and options that are out there.

Loss prevention: time, effort and resources

Hand washing glassware always carries a risk of glass breakage or worker injury, and either can be costly to a lab. Glassware washers help eliminate that risk by greatly decreasing the time a worker is handling the labware. Flasks, beakers, test tubes and petri dishes are fragile resources. Other things to consider are the economics of energy and related costs, the washer's footprint, performance, flexibility and durability.

The "Green Scheme": saving energy and water

Energy costs and water conservation are hot topics. People are trying to be more environmentally responsible, and glassware washers can definitely fit into the “Green Scheme.”Hand washing 30 pieces of glassware takes about 20 gallons of tap water (EPA Water Trivia Facts). A good glassware washer should use less than 14 gallons of water to wash the same amount of glassware. This translates into a savings of about 1,664 gallons of water per year.

While water conservation is a great green feature, energy saving features like a delayed start are popular options. A delayed start feature allows the user to wash during off-peak hours when energy costs can be lower. You could see up to a 50% savings in energy costs annually.

In addition, Labconco FlaskScrubber and SteamScrubber Washers are made of 51% recycled material and 77.6% of the washer can be recycled.

Glassware Washer Selection Tools

Quickly find out how much you could save using an efficient glassware washer. 



Consider your space: Form over function

Before selecting a washer, know your space. Define the final location of the washer. This will help you determine the best configuration to fit your needs. Undercounter models (which include a standard height or ADA height version), freestanding, and mobile units are readily available. Do you need extra storage? Base stands are available, and handy not only for storage, but also they raise the washer up, requiring less bending when loading and unloading glassware and other accessories.

Raw performance: Function over form

When it comes to washer performance, it’s important to know what functionalities the washer is capable of performing. Dual pumps are a highlyimportant feature to look for in a washer. Having a separate pump that brings in clean water and one to remove dirty water reduces the risk of cross contamination. Cross contamination can be very costly to a lab - be aware that some washers do not have separate pumps. 

Washing cycles also vary from manufacturer to manufacturer so compare the cycles that are preprogrammed and determine whether or not they can be altered. Are there user-defined programs? Can programs be password protected? Are there low or high heat options for different types of labware? Make sure the washer is capable of getting your type of labware clean.

Now that it's all clean, how does the unit dry? Can it dry the outside and inside of the glassware? Labconco washers use forced air drying throughout the chamber, and in the FlaskScrubber models, forced air will jet through the spindles of the lower spindle rack, drying the inside of narrow-necked glassware.

Identifying your specific needs

Flexibility of a washer is important. Make a point of knowing if the washer can take the types of labware and utensils you use. If you cannot easily fit your labware in the washer, is it worth the expense? Of course not! Identify what types of glassware you want to wash. Are they wide-mouthed beakers or petri dishes?

Inserts and accessories can be added to customize the washer’s standard racks to accommodate your particular glassware mix. What about narrow-necked glassware such as volumetric or Erlenmeyer flasks? Washing flasks requires special features like those found in a FlaskScrubber that has the capability of injecting water into the deepest part of the flask to thoroughly wash the glassware.

The message here is that not all glassware is cleaned in the same way, so accessories may be required to customize for your specific needs.

For help finding the right inserts and accessories for your lab, try this article: 
5 truly lovable Glassware Washer Accessories

Getting the best deal

Laboratory washers can bear a heavy price tag so knowing how long one will last is important. Residential dishwashers are made to wash cereal bowls and dinner plates, not laboratory glassware. Materials of construction on a residential unit cannot withstand the laboratory chemicals nor the high heat required in some wash cycles (not to mention the fact that dishwashers generally can’t heat the water to reach the required temperature).

Using a residential glassware washer in a laboratory negates any warranty that may have come with it. Labconco's glassware washers offer a 2-year warranty. Don’t forget the importance of the dual pumps laboratory washers offer. Dishwashers have a single pump…dirty and clean water is moved with the same pump. Also, laboratory washers generally have an option to bring in purified water, DI or RO, for final rinsing, a feature not seen in a residential washer.

The Labconco line of laboratory glassware washers come with a pure water pump so that the water source does not have to be pressurized.

For more specifics on why residential dish washers are insufficient for cleaning glassware, try this article: 5 reasons NOT to use a residential dishwasher to clean laboratory glassware

Lastly, when comparing washers head to head, inspect how a washer is priced. Some manufacturers sell washers as a shell unit that does not include any racks, shelves, certain pumps, and accessories. Labconco laboratory glassware washers include at least one rack, depending on the model, and all come with a dedicated pure water pump. Be sure to understand what features are standard on each unit as well as the associated costs that you could incur to add accessories or racks needed.

You may be disappointed by choosing a washer based solely on price, discovering upon installation that you don’t have racks or accessories needed to use the washer. Make a checklist of all the features that you need, then figure out what is standard with the washer or if the extra feature/s would be additional costs on the models you are considering. You might be surprised by the difference in price when you add in all of the accessories needed to actually wash your labware.

Glassware Washer Selection Tools

Quickly find out how much you could save using an efficient glassware washer. 


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