We had one of those sporadic lab clean ups this week. More specifically, I had a really good clean up of my hood.
I am far from the tidiest person in the world, but I do try to keep things pretty respectable. I do know people who have hoods you could serve dinner in and I marvel at their obsessive-compulsive cleanliness. So I’ll say that before this clean-up, I’d have said my hood was OK. It helped that I spilled some sand and had to clean that up, which helped the general vicinity of that end of the hood get a bit better.
However it is also true that I am also not the first resident of my hood and the untold stories of the various splashes and stains that adorn the walls attest to that in numerous little ways. So while I might have said my hood was “OK”, I would also acknowledge that there was room for improvement.
We went all out. Everything out of the hood, the walls washed down. All kinds of yucky lint washed off the baffles and joints. All kinds of good reasons you don’t make such things white. We did our best to get back to white, at least.
Then there was the grill at the back at the bottom of the hood. It has a rough edge to it, so wiping it down tears the paper towel, leaving bits of paper stuck on it. It is an important place for the air flow inside the hood too, so it was unsurprising to find more bits of paper towel back there. The quantity was perhaps a bit more of a surprise. And all sorts of little bits of kit – pipette bulbs, some TLC spotters, that kind of thing, all crowned with black lint.
It was hard work but oddly satisfying. As I returned my stirrers and other equipment back in their places, I reflected that it was going to be hard to mess up the temporarily perfect hood with chemistry again. For a little while, every spill is pounced on and I keep noticing more bits of paper towel hanging from the grill at the back.
But another thing I noticed: the air flow in my hood is definitely improved. Before, when I was working in it, it would sometimes give the low flow alarm, if I had the doors open too far. Now, with the baffles cleared of the assorted detritus of the years, that is a lot less frequent. I had to work at it to make it go off today.