pH meters work by sampling the concentration of hydrogen ions in a solution with
a probe that has a delicate tip made of very thin glass. To get accurate
measurements, this probe must be treated gently and be carefully and regularly cleaned and
The best advice is to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your meter, but
here are some general recommendations.
Cleaning: The best way to clean the tip of a pH meter is not to let it
get dirty in the first place. Probes that are left immersed in solution should
be shielded from light to prevent the growth of algae and placed in the
cleanest part of the solution that is still representative of the overall pH.
Calibrating: Here is a typical calibration procedure:
- Place the probe
in a sample of pH 7.00 calibration buffer. Adjust the meter for a pH of 7.00.
- Rinse the probe with distilled water and then gently blot the tip with a tissue
to prevent solution carryover.
- Immerse the probe in pH 4.00 buffer and adjust
the pH meter so it gives a reading of 4.00.
- Rinse the probe and blot,
repeating steps 1 to 3 until readings are stable and no further adjustments are
necessary. Usually a couple of repetitions are sufficient.
Storing: The probe tip must be kept wet at all times and should be stored
in buffer solution when not in use.