Lab Etiquette and Best Practices

Knowledge and awareness of personal and biological safety rules are highly important to creating a safe, organized, collaborative, and productive lab environment.

Working in the laboratory requires constant surveillance of hazardous materials and practices. It also requires that we be able to identify potential hazards and prevent or manage them properly without compromising our safety or the safety of others. Lab etiquette informs us on how to behave properly in the lab by developing safe practices and habits and effective responses to potentially hazardous activities and outcomes.

Disposal and Spills

  1. Place used or contaminated lab supplies in proper waste containers. Locate the regular trash, biological waste containers, sharps, and broken glass containers. Lab supplies that come into contact with cultures, media, reagents, or any potentially hazardous material should not be left on the benchtop.
  2. Place used reusable equipment in proper autoclaving receptacles; this includes metal loops, hockey sticks, glass beads, forceps, and glassware.
  3. Dispose of samples, cultures, and media in designated biological waste receptacles.
  4. Dispose of used toothpicks, wooden sticks, plastic tips, weigh boats, Petri dishes, and other disposables in designated biological waste receptacles.
  5. Dispose of used sharps (slides, coverslips, Pasteur pipettes, broken glass, etc.) in designated sharps and broken glass containers.
  6. Ask your instructor about glass (e.g., microscope slide) and/or broken glass disposal.
  7. Properly dispose of contaminated media and plates.
    • Do not remove the lid off plates with fungal growth. Plates with yeasts or molds disseminate spores, rapidly spreading and contaminating the lab. Consult your instructor for inspection and proper disposal.
    • Do not use agar plates (solid media) or liquid media that appear to have bacterial growth or contamination. Consult your instructor for inspection and proper disposal.
  8. Cover spills with a paper towel and report them immediately to the instructor. The instructor will provide further information on how to clean up the spill.