Scientists share their lab pet peeves

Science is about answering questions, making discoveries, and solving problems. But scientific research often yields secondary results: pet peeves. Whether a painstaking protocol performed ad nauseam, a common inconvenience, or a recurring breach of lab etiquette, every scientist and lab researcher has at least one nagging nuisance they’ve adopted as a personal pet peeve. Most have several. Quartzy’s resident scientists share theirs.


George, Marketing

  • There are never enough Sharpies in the lab, and no one ever puts them back where they got them.
  • Clean the damn balance if you spill unknown chemicals all over it when weighing.
  • If you explode coomassie blue all over the microwave, don’t just leave it looking like you put a Smurf inside it.  
  • If you leak stuff in the centrifuge tube holders due to overfilling or a poor seal, don’t just leave it to ferment until someone else notices.
  • Name your data files consistently or no one will have a clue what your CSV of random numbers is.
  • Break down your boxes so that we don’t end up with a room or corner of a room full of empty boxes that never get taken out.
  • Do your damn dishes, don’t just pile glassware in the sink so that one day they topple over and break.
  • Don’t talk to me as I am loading and entering samples into the GC autosampler. I will get confused, make a mistake, and have no idea why my data looks bizarre.
  • Don’t change the temperature on an incubator without telling anyone or indicating it on the incubator. It will ruin weeks of work.  

Neha, Customer Success Associate

  • Clean the microwave if you spill anything in it. Don’t make your lab manager scrape old chemicals in a radioactive apron because no one knows what it is.
  • Don’t write notes all over the lab protocols. Print one for yourself.

Melissa, Life Science Product Specialist

  • If you use almost all the chemical in a bottle, put it away, and don’t bother to order a new one, you are the same level of human that leaves an empty toilet paper roll on the dispenser.  
  • Most labs aren’t rich enough to have a dishwasher. Do your own damn dishes.
  • Clean up after your experiments. No one wants to put your stuff away.
  • You started somewhere, too. Don’t be a condescending jerk.
  • Don’t touch me or any of my non-experiment-related stuff while you’re still wearing gloves. Just don’t.

Dylan, Customer Success Associate

  • Round-bottom flasks and trying to get all of the solid out of them after using the rotovap. I never could. I don’t think I am alone.
  • At the end of the day, I know you’re tired. Just please take the extra five minutes to clean up.
  • Feeling rushed to finish something up in a shared hood so the next person could use it. This is why I worked the night shift.

John, Life Science Product Specialist

  • Don’t get oil on the dry microscope lenses.
  • Don’t open doors with gloves—use your elbows.
  • Don’t use my lab marker and then walk away with it.
  • Don’t imbalance the centrifuge to that point where it’s not imbalanced enough to do serious damage, but just enough to make that super loud buzzing sound that I will then have to listen to for the next 10-30 minutes.

Chris, Life Science Product Specialist

  • Leaving the box of pipette tips open. Please just put the lid back on!
  • Organic chemistry students rotating through the biochemistry department and breaking pipettors.
  • Not shutting the CO2 incubator firmly. Make sure it closes all of the way. No one wants to hear the alarm going off.

Nicole, Business Development Associate

  • If there’s a timer on a bench with someone else’s name written all over it, be a normal/respectful human being and don’t take it.
  • Please don’t put your lunch in the lab fridge next to the rack of tubes filled with bacterial culture.
  • If you need to get something out of the -80C freezer, have SOME idea of where it is. Don’t just stand there with the door open for five minutes, looking through every single rack while the temperature alarm just beeps and beeps and beeps…

Aline, Life Science Product Specialist

  • Do the DISHES!!!!

Do you have any personal pet peeves to share? Send us an email!


Quartzy is the world’s No. 1 lab management platform. We help scientists easily organize orders, manage inventory, and save money. We’re free and always will be. Visit Quartzy.com or reach out at info@quartzy.com.

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Greg Schindler

Greg has a BA from Stanford (English/Football) and MS from Oregon (Journalism). He's our Director of Marketing and Pastries.

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