While cell culture lab cleaning and biosafety hood sterilization is prioritized, CO2 incubators are often neglected as part of the cleaning regime. Cells are extremely sensitive to changes in temperature, humidity and pressure. Moreover, multiple users working in an incubator could risk chances of contamination. Therefore, regular maintenance of CO2 could go a long way in keeping cells healthy and happy. Follow our expert Kosheeka tips for maintenance of CO2 incubators.
It is essential to not just refill the water in the humidifying tray but also completely change it. It is Water must be changed weekly to maintain humidity and also prevent contamination. Low humidity levels can lead to evaporation of the culture medium. This can disbalance the concentration of different components and nutrients present in media that can result in cell death. Low humidity also affects the CO2 sensors. The tray should be completely emptied and cleaned with distilled/MilliQ water thoroughly before adding fresh autoclaved water. The water pan must be checked daily and disinfectants like copper sulfate should be added to prevent microbial growth.
Co2 incubators must be regularly cleaned inside out. Once a month, the incubator should be cleaned with a sterile lint-free cloth with 70% alcohol. All spills must be wiped and cultures must be shifted to another incubator temporarily. If available with the incubator configurations, an automatic decontamination cycle or heat sterilization must be carried out. Removable parts could also be autoclaved as suggested in the incubator manual. Chlorine-based disinfectants should be avoided as they can corrode the steel and are very aggressive. Also, disinfectants that produce fumes may be unsafe for the cells. It is also essential to clean the exterior of the incubator with a clean lint-free cloth using MilliQ water.
HEPA Filters must be changed every 6-12 months depending on the usage of the incubator. The life of a filter depends on the number of users, cleanliness of the Cell Culture Lab and design. Gas inlet filters should also be replaced every 6 months. Long lasting sensors should be installed and replaced as required. Service engineers must be contacted for any issue in the incubator including part replacement or cleaning.
Calibration frequency depends on how well you maintain your incubator. Calibration can be performed manually or under supervision of trained specialists. Monitor CO2 levels regularly using a sensor and replace the cylinder timely to avoid any damage to cells.
Since contaminants can enter an incubator every time the door is opened, it is essential to keep lab clean at all points of time. Regular fumigation and cleaning of equipment must be performed for ensuring overall cleanliness of the incubator. This can reduce the frequency of HEPA filter change.