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Top 10 Most Hated Lab Tasks

Posted in: Organization and Productivity
Top 10 Most Hated Lab Tasks

Following closely on the heels of Cristy’s article “How to Clean a Waterbath”, I’d like to take a moment to rant about a few other hated (and carefully avoided) lab tasks.  Here are my top ten LEAST favorite things to do in the lab:

  1. Cleaning out the vacuum trap – truly gag-worthy…you never know what your colleagues have been sucking up in there.
  2. Defrosting the -20°C freezer – it’s slow, it’s messy, and you’ll just have to do it all over again in a month or two.
  3. Defrosting the -80°C freezer – even worse, due to the possibility of accidentally freezing body parts to the inside of the freezer, or losing a finger to frostbite.
  4. Filling the liquid nitrogen tank – I always feel like I’m taking my life in my hands when I do this!  Something that is so dangerous shouldn’t slosh so much, you know? To help you feel more comfortable handling liquid nitrogen, you should make sure you that you get appropriate liquid nitrogen safety training.
  5. Updating the chemical inventory – this would be so much easier if you just updated it every time you ordered a chemical, but when has that ever happened?
  6. Annotating plasmid maps – carefully piecing together the sequence for the clone you just made sometimes seems like it takes even longer than making the clone itself!
  7. Making competent cells – the centrifugations, the aliquoting, stressing out over sterile technique…it doesn’t get any better than this!
  8. Aliquoting – competent cells, antibodies, dNTPs…just about anything, really.
  9. Making up 10M HCl or NaOH stocks for adjusting the pH of solutions – scary scary scary.
  10. Racking pipette tips – have you ever been in a lab cheap enough to buy loose pipette tips that need to be individually inserted into the tip boxes before autoclaving?  A sure-fire way to drive your summer student crazy.

What’s YOUR most hated lab task?

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Image Credit: mfigrs


  1. sonal mundhra on May 8, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    top ones are boxing tips, adjusting pH and definitely dissolving EDTA.

  2. Gina Riggio on April 27, 2012 at 2:55 am

    Love this article! So funny and exactly what I needed right now. I’d have to say trying to make an RNAse / DNAse free concentrated salt solution for ethanol precipitations. And also making 0.5M EDTA. That shit never dissolves! NEVER!!

    • Vicki Doronina on May 10, 2012 at 4:02 pm

      Try adding NaOH pellets, while measuring pH. As pH going closer to 8.0, EDTA dissolved. Gently heating while steering helps as well, just don’t leave unattended, it’ll boil.

  3. saira bashir on April 26, 2012 at 11:07 am

    I think preparing salt saturated phenol is the most hated work……….

  4. JJ512 on April 25, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    Discarding biohazard waste, YUCK! Always felt like burning my clothes and taking a shower afterward

  5. Elena Bibikova on April 25, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    13. Adjusting pH of solutions. One drop too many and you have to start all over again!

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