• David Baxley

Cardboard in the Laboratory

Updated: Apr 27

Cleanliness is critical in any laboratory, but especially so in an incubator space where organization and proper labeling are key. With daily incoming shipments, sometimes large or numerous, cardboard accumulation is unavoidable and must be addressed each day. This said, don’t keep cardboard in your lab any longer than you have to. Cardboard shouldn’t be left lying around - not only does it cause unsightly clutter, but it can also pose a real danger to the lab community. Unless you are using cardboard as part of your experiment, it doesn’t belong in a biological lab.


In the event of a splash, spill, or other contamination, cardboard, and other porous materials cannot be decontaminated with a surface spray and must be autoclaved to avoid potential exposure.


“Spring cleaning” is the perfect opportunity to organize, clean, and remove unnecessary and potentially hazardous clutter, including cardboard. Here are a few suggestions for proper management and disposal of cardboard:


  1. Do not store cardboard boxes near biological safety cabinets or other areas where biological agents are used.

  2. Unpack boxes of lab supplies and store them on shelves or in cupboards.

  3. Keep cardboard boxes away from your work area and off the floor unless you are willing to autoclave the entire box and contents in the event of a splash, spatter or spill with a biohazard.

  4. Do not store any combustible materials near an autoclave or other heat-generating equipment.

  5. Cardboard boxes are appropriate for the storage of dry radioactive waste and liquid scintillation vials.

  6. Always use secondary containment for your waste collection bottles at your FPLC or UPLC. A liquid spill could leave you with a lot of wet cardboard to dispose of.

  7. Finally, insects and rodents like cardboard for nesting and bedding. Too much cardboard is an invitation to them.

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