Cell Culture Lab Equipment Check List and Guide

cell culture

Select the right equipment for cell culture to set up for success.

Cell culture, also called tissue culture, is important for many areas of research. It is also challenging. Keeping the area aseptic, maintaining cell conditions, ensuring reproducibility, concerns about contamination, and cell viability are just a few of the challenges. Even choosing equipment for a cell culture lab can be challenging, because specific equipment is required to maintain the necessary environment for successful cell culture. The lab equipment needs to help solve the challenges. Choosing the right lab products can help to enhance reproducibility, mitigate contamination, provide optimal temperatures and conditions for cell viability, optimize a process, and provide reliable results. It’s important to understand the features of each lab product and how it can help cell culture before making your purchase.

To help find the right lab equipment and supplies for your cell culture laboratory, use the following list as a basic guide. Selection will be determined based on your specific cell culture needs.

Get more information on cell culture:

Introduction to Cell Culture

Cell Culture Lab Equipment and Supplies Checklist

Laboratory equipment

☐ Autoclave (or sterilizer)
Cell counter (or hemacytometer)
Hot plate
Incubator (dry or C02)
Lab shaker
Laminar-flow hood
pH meter
Refrigerator and freezer (–20 °C)
Temperature monitoring data loggers
Vacuum aspiration pump
Water bath

Cryogenic products

Bench coolers or blocks
Cryo boxes
Freezer racks
Insulated containers
Ice blocks

Laboratory supplies

Bottles and Jars
Cell culture plates
Culture media
Flasks (sterile and nonsterile Erlenmeyer flasks, filtration)
Filtration products
Inoculating loops /needles / scrapers
Media bottles
Pipettes and Pippetors
Tissue culture flasks
Vials and caps
Waste containers

Cole-Parmer Cell Culture Equipment Guide

Choose products for an optimal workflow to provide the ideal environment and lessen the strain on cells. When choosing cell culture lab equipment, consider the cells and their environment needed, compare application to equipment temperatures, the workspace and size of the lab, and where each piece of equipment should fit to lessen walking time from one piece of equipment to the next when moving cells.


In a cell culture lab, aseptic conditions are critical. Sterilization equipment must be used. Use autoclaves for sterilizing glassware, pipettes, labware, and culture media. Autoclaves can also be used for growth media, but these autoclaves need to be research-grade with an ASME-stamped pressure vessel.

Hemacytometer (cell counter)

A hemocytometer provides cell counts for various reasons including monitoring cell viability and proliferation rate, seeding cells for subsequent experiments, preparing for cell-based assays, and more. It is important that cell counts be accurate, consistent, and fast. Use a hemacytometer for single-use or manual cell counting.


A centrifuge is used to spin down cells. A basic centrifuge is appropriate. Larger centrifuges can provide more efficiency, but microcentrifuges are ideal where bench space is limited. Floor centrifuges can be used in larger cell culture labs. Optimize the workflow process by placing the centrifuge by the incubator and biological safety cabinet to minimize the need to transport the cells across the lab.

Hot plate

A hot plate is used in a laboratory as a heat source that can uniformly heat solutions and materials. The right hot plate can help to maintain consistent temperature of cells once they are removed from the incubator and can also be set inside of an incubator. keep set temperatures for culture media and reagents.


The process of cell growth requires special conditions and CO2 incubators are ideal. Incubators provide a controlled, protective environment for cell cultures, tissue cultures, and other samples. They regulate conditions such as temperature, humidity, and CO2 and may also be used for growth and storage of bacterial cultures. Incubators are often used for incubating samples at a low consistent temperature over a long period of time.

Lab shaker

A lab shaker that provides gentle mixing is needed with cell culture to provide the appropriate amount of oxygen for the viability of the cells. An incubator shaker is a good option for this application to ensure the cells remain at the correct temperature.

Laminator flow hood

Working in a laminator flow hood provides the aseptic work area needed for proper cell culture. These hoods are designed to protect equipment and other contents from particulates. The airflow from vertical flow cabinets flows downward and directly strikes the work surface, reducing turbulence and provide a taller and deeper workspace. HEPA and ULPA filtration technology creates a clean work environment.


A compound microscope with phase contrast, brightfield and even fluorescence and 50x to 200x magnification is an appropriate microscope for cell culture. Others can be used as well. Using the right microscopes can focus on the details of a cell to analyze the condition of the cell for growth, proliferation, viability, contamination and when culture media needs replaced.

pH meter

Monitoring pH in cell culture is crucial and is done using a pH meter. Stable pH is necessary for cell growth and viability. Using an optical pH meter is an appropriate option.


Use a refrigerator to store reagents and supplies. For long-term storage of cells preparations and to prevent damage, use an ultra-low (ULT) freezer. They are designed to meet cold storage needs down to -86 ºC. Choose from upright or chest options.

Temperature monitoring data logger

Data loggers are necessary when samples must be transported and stored within a certain temperature range. They are available with Wi-Fi and cloud service to stay connected and monitor critical environments 24/7 from anywhere. When cells are stored in cryogenic temperatures, a data-logger that monitors Liquid Nitrogen (LN2) conditions anywhere.

Vacuum aspiration system

A vacuum aspirator is used in cell culture aspiration to remove liquid media that was metabolized in cell culture. A vacuum aspiration system is a self-contained vacuum aspirator that provides convenient handling of liquid waste disposal in a compact and easy-to-use system. It is ideal for use in cell culture because of its ease of use, cleaning and maintenance. It’s a great replacement for the common vacuum pump.

Water bath

A water bath is ideal for maintaining a specified temperature over a long period of time to incubate samples. In cell culture, water baths are ideal for defrosting frozen cells but must be done quickly within 1 minute to avoid cell damage. Keep in mind that a sample placed in a water bath must be properly sealed to avoid contamination.


It’s no secret that many successful laboratories including cell culture labs have chosen the right products at Cole-Parmer. With over 65 years of experience equipping labs around the world, Cole-Parmer is a popular brand used by thousands of laboratories and that number continues to grow. We are a top brand because we manufacture high-quality and reliable products that are price-sensitive, unlike other brands that charge more for the exact same type of product. And we back our products with exemplary technical service for help with selecting products, troubleshooting, and assistance after your purchase.

Learn more about:

Introduction to cell culture
Cell Seeding and Maintenance
Growing Cell Cultures
Cell Culture Cryopreservation and Freezing


1- Kathleen Ongena, Chandreyee Das, Janet L. Smith, Sónia Gil, and Grace Johnston, NIH National Library of Medicine, Determining Cell Number During Cell Culture using the Scepter Cell Counter, Accessed August 23, 2023.

Mansour Tayebi-khorami, Nahid Chegeni,mMaryam Tahmasebi BirganiAmir DanyaeiReza Fardid, and Jaber Zafari, NIH National Library of Medicine, Construction a CO2 Incubator for Cell Culture with Capability of Transmitting Microwave Radiation, Accessed August 23, 2023.

Related Articles

Growing Cell Cultures: Types of Cells
What Are Cell Lysis and Tissue Homogenization?
Freezing Cells: What is Cryopreservation?







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