Best Practices for Maintaining Your Cryostat

In short, you should maintain equipment at least as often as the manufacturer recommends. Everything you need to know about maintaining your lab equipment should be in its manual, including instructions on cleaning and replacing certain parts. However, we don’t have time to read the manual again and again. Here are some tips that will save you time. You can print or bookmark this page for easy access.


A well-maintained cryostat is crucial for precise tissue sectioning. Regular maintenance not only prolongs the life of this essential equipment but also ensures reliable results.



  • Do not leave your cryostat chamber messy, empty the waste tray, clean the microtome blade holder from debris.
  • Use alcohol to wipe specimen head and levers.
  • Do not pour alcohol into the microtome head. Alcohol can accumulate on the bottom of the encapsulated microtomes on models like Leica  CM1520 or CM1860 and will not evaporate and you do not have access to clean it. This is dangerous for the course advanced stepper motor that is located on the back of the microtome and will be submerged in alcohol when at lowest position.
  • Verify temperature settings. The cryostat should cycle +/- 1C  from set temp.



  • Clean the condenser. Condenser is located in the lower part of the instrument and can be on the left or on the right side. Vacuum the gills or use a brush to remove dust bunnies. Clean condenser = healthy cooling system.
  • Lubricate the piston behind the specimen head with 2-3 drops of low temperature oil like PDP 38. Do not over lubricate.
  • Empty the container that collects the water from defrost cycle.
  • Check for mechanical wear: Regularly inspect moving parts for signs of wear and tear that could impair function.


Every 6 Months:

  • Turn off the cryostat from the main switch and let it defrost. Do not open the sliding window yet.
  • In next day remove side trays, dry the microtome, blade holder and chamber.
  • Remove blade holder and clean its components from sections debris.
  • Clean the condenser again.
  • Turn On the cryostat after assuring that the chamber and microtome are completely dry.


Every 12 Months

  • Schedule a PM with Midwest Lab Equipment .
  • Keep a Maintenance Log

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