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  • Writer's pictureJeremy Wright

Mastering the Flow Hood: Your Guide to Creating Sterile Environments

Introduction: In the world of mycology, microbiology, and clean laboratory environments, a laminar flow hood is a valuable tool for ensuring sterile conditions. This specialized piece of equipment creates a clean workspace by directing filtered air to create a laminar, unidirectional airflow. In this blog post, we'll explore what a flow hood is and how to use one effectively.

A flow hood, also known as a laminar flow hood or laminar flow cabinet, is a specialized piece of equipment used in laboratories, cleanrooms, and other controlled environments to provide a workspace with a highly purified and sterile air environment. It is designed to protect sensitive materials, equipment, and experiments from contamination by filtering out airborne particles, such as dust, microbes, and other contaminants.

Here's a basic explanation of what a flow hood is and how to use one effectively:

What is a Flow Hood? A flow hood typically consists of a horizontal work surface enclosed in a transparent cabinet with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) or ultra-low penetration air (ULPA) filter at the back or top. The key features of a flow hood include:

  1. Laminar Airflow: The flow hood creates a unidirectional, laminar airflow that moves from the filter towards the front opening. This controlled airflow ensures that airborne contaminants are pushed away from the work area and out of the hood.

  2. Work Area: The work area is a sterile workspace within the flow hood where you can perform tasks that require a clean and controlled environment.

How to Use a Flow Hood:

Using a flow hood effectively involves several key steps to ensure that your work is carried out in a clean and sterile environment:

  1. Preparation:

    • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment, including a lab coat, gloves, and a face mask.

    • Ensure the room housing the flow hood is clean and free from drafts that could disrupt the laminar airflow.

  1. Startup:

    • Power on the flow hood and allow it to run for about 20-30 minutes to stabilize the airflow and clear the workspace of contaminants.

    • Make sure the HEPA or ULPA filter is clean and in proper working condition.

  1. Workspace Setup:

    • Place your work materials and equipment inside the flow hood.

    • Organize your materials, keeping them within easy reach to minimize unnecessary movements.

  1. Work Procedure:

    • Work systematically from clean to dirty areas within the flow hood, starting from the rear and moving toward the front.

    • Avoid making sudden movements that could disrupt the laminar airflow.

    • Keep the sash or front panel of the flow hood as low as necessary to maintain the sterile environment, but avoid obstructing airflow.

  1. Sterilization and Decontamination:

    • Use appropriate sterilization methods, such as alcohol sprays or a Bunsen burner, to sterilize your work surface and tools.

    • Decontaminate waste materials, and dispose of them properly in accordance with laboratory protocols.

  1. Shutdown:

    • Turn off the flow hood and allow it to run for a few extra minutes to clear any contaminants.

    • Clean the work surface and any exposed materials to prevent contamination during the next use.

  1. Maintenance:

    • Regularly maintain the flow hood by replacing the HEPA or ULPA filter, cleaning the workspace, and performing any necessary repairs or calibrations.

Using a flow hood effectively is essential for ensuring the success and accuracy of experiments and maintaining the integrity of sensitive materials. Proper procedures and regular maintenance are critical for creating and maintaining sterile conditions in laboratory and cleanroom environments.

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