7 Ways to Reduce Contamination in Cleanrooms

Reduce Contamination in Cleanrooms

A cleanroom bears its name for a reason: its very purpose is to stay sanitary and free of contaminants to maintain a stable work environment. Because employees handle sensitive equipment and components in these critical areas, keeping contaminants at bay is essential to everyday workflow, and ultimately, maintaining profitability.

It may come as no surprise that your employees are the most common source of contamination in your cleanrooms. What you may find surprising, however, are the simple steps you can take to minimize contamination risks. Let’s take a look at some of the most effective tips, below.

1.       Practice Good Hygiene

Practice Good Hygiene
Practice Good Hygiene

Humans naturally produce particles. Our bodies shed contaminants, producing detritus like skin flakes and particles from hair products, cosmetics, and lotions. Thus, while good hygiene can limit the level of contaminants spread in the cleanroom, it’s also important to consider ways in which certain steps of getting ready might be skipped or altered for the purpose of limiting contaminants. Even perfume and cologne, for instance, can produce contaminants. Since 75-80% of particles found in cleanroom inspections are produced by personnel, it’s a good idea to establish a set of hygiene recommendations for your employees to follow.

 

2.       Be Especially Mindful of Hands

TechniGlove Nitrile Cleanroom Glove
TechniGlove Nitrile Cleanroom Glove

A good portion of cleanliness violations result from bare hands touching surfaces, then transferring these particles onto garments before they enter the cleanroom. To make sure your employees aren’t contaminating anything that will be worn inside your critical environments, consider installing no-touch sensors in the areas where your employees don their cleanroom gear. This will allow them to still wash their hands without picking up any excess particles in the process. Cleanroom Gloves are used in areas that have specific requirements for low contamination risk.

Cleanroom Gloves are disposable gloves designed and clean-processed for contamination control and sterility required work environments including cleanrooms, laboratory and ESD work areas. Minimize sub-micron particle contamination by using gloves designed and manufactured for Cleanrooms.

3.       Don Gear Properly

Don from Top to Bottom
Don from Top to Bottom

The way your employees put their disposable apparel on is just as important as the garments themselves. Because particles are also impacted by the pull of gravity, donning procedures should start at the top. Employees can then work their way down. While each company’s donning procedures may be unique to its specific needs, it’s a good idea to adopt a head-to-toe procedure to prevent contaminants from falling and settling on clean shoe covers.

 

4.       Limit Speaking

Limit Speaking
Limit Speaking

A quiet cleanroom doesn’t just boost productivity; it also has the power to reduce contaminants. Consider the fact that loud speaking of just 100 words (less than a minute of normal conversation!) can produce up to 250 particles of saliva. Of course, there are also some contaminants which may not be avoided, such as coughs and sneezes, which produce roughly 5,000 and 1,000,000 saliva particles, respectively. What’s a simple way to limit contamination from saliva particles in your cleanroom? Wear a face mask designed for Cleanrooms.

5.       Designate “Cleanroom Only” Supplies

Cleanroom Pens
Cleanroom Pens

Taking a pen from outside the cleanroom into the critical work environment might seem harmless, but employees who do so will also unintentionally bring a plethora of contaminants inside with it. Not only should you have cleanroom pens, cleanroom notebooks, and any other tools or instruments designated specifically for cleanroom use only, but you should also make sure they’re compliant with your standards. In other words, the supplies you’re using should also have been produced in a cleanroom environment.

Cleanroom paper packaged in class 10 cleanrooms, for instance, is considered safe for use in class 10 cleanrooms or higher. Cleanroom paper products are impregnated and coated with a polymer. This keeps the paper from generating tiny particulates when written on. Keep your area clean of paper contaminants by using documentation designed just for Cleanrooms.

6.       Take Care When Entering & Exiting

Take Care When Entering & Exiting Cleanrooms
Take Care When Entering & Exiting Cleanrooms

After employees enter and exit cleanrooms, encourage them to take an extra moment to ensure doors are tightly shut. It’s a good practice to make sure the door leading to the changing room is also closed before the cleanroom door is opened to prevent additional particles from making their way into the buffer area. In fact, you can further eliminate the spread of contaminants by separating your gowning room into three distinct areas. One for the non-sterile space directly outside of the room, where employees can keep personal items and clean shoes. The second space is the sterile “dirty” area, where employees prepare for gowning. Finally, the last space should be designated for gowning and taking final preparations before entering.

7.       Move Slowly

Move Slowly in Cleanrooms
Move Slowly in Cleanrooms

The more rapidly movement occurs inside the cleanroom, the more particles will be given off. To combat excess contamination, employees should move slowly and deliberately as they approach work stations. They should also be encouraged to enter and exit cleanrooms slowly.

 

By incorporating these tips into your cleanroom protocol, you might be able to significantly reduce the number of contaminants inside. You can find cleanroom documentation, cleanroom disposable apparel, and more supplies suitable for cleanroom use online through Harmony Business Supplies. If there’s a specific item you need help with, a product specialist will be happy to assist you.

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The 4 Most Common Cleanroom Contaminators

The 4 Most Common Cleanroom Contaminators

Maintaining a cleanroom environment has unique challenges because it’s constantly being exposed to a number of contaminants. To stabilize your company’s particle count, identifying your leading sources of contamination is critical. While these sources may vary from one organization to the next, the most common contaminators tend to be similar across most industries.

Here, we discuss four of the most widespread culprits of contamination in cleanroom environments, along with strategies for combating each source:

Cleanroom Operators: While they’re likely the most highly-trained on reducing contamination, operators actually tend to be the leading source of it in cleanroom environments. Employees can compromise your particle count by neglecting to wear the required disposable apparel to maintain your cleanroom environment. Consider how an operator who just left the building for their lunch break might contaminate an environment by neglecting to wear the proper shoe covers, face masks, or other protective apparel. Frequent reinforcement of procedures, coupled with availability of necessary disposable resources, can help to prevent contamination by operators.

HVAC Systems: Inadequate air volume or velocity can impact your environment, exposing it to a rising number of particles. Even if your cleanroom is stable, it’s possible that HVAC systems working below capacity could be pulling in particles from nearby non-cleanroom environments and contaminating your critical areas. To prevent HVAC-related contamination, make sure you’re following the prescribed maintenance schedule for your HEPA filters. A general rule of thumb to follow is to have your pre-filters replaced at least twice per year.

Supplies: Wipes, gloves, and other cleanroom supplies can either help or hurt you in controlling contaminants. If you’re not using the proper shoe covers, for example, you could actually be increasing ESD risks instead of limiting them. The same goes for the gloves and wipes you select. Make sure that the supplies you choose are intended for use in your cleanroom level. For instance, wipes made from a polyester/cellulose blend are ideal for cleaning spills in controlled environments, and many are available for environments of varying classes. There are contaminant-reducing gloves designed specifically for cleanrooms. Using cleanroom documentation, such as paper and notepads, intended for use in cleanrooms is also helpful for reduce particle generation.

Cleaning Procedures: Maintaining a regular cleaning schedule is imperative in cleanrooms, and without strict adherence to procedures and schedules, your risk for contamination increases substantially. In addition to scheduling airborne particle counts, regular inspections should also be performed on work surfaces and in critical places. Also, while general cleanings should be performed frequently, you should also be following a schedule of deep cleanses to keep particle and bacterial counts down.

From cleanroom pens to wipes and apparel, Harmony Business Supplies has everything you need to help control contamination in your company’s cleanroom. Check out our extensive selection of particle-reducing products.

Why Use Cleanroom Gloves for Critical Environments?

Concerned About High Levels of Cleanroom Contamination?

Make sure to use pure clean gloves manufactured for cleanrooms, and don’t use a standard industrial or medical grade glove in cleanrooms.

Why can’t you use a lower cost industrial grade or Medical grade glove in defined clean rooms?

 

Why Use Cleanroom Gloves for Critical Environments?

  • The chlorination manufacturing process of Cleanroom Gloves reduces the natural rubber protein levels as well as particulate and ionic residuals.
  • Chlorination also reduces tack levels by washing the gloves in a solution of chlorine gas and water. Less tack allows for easier glove donning off and on!
  • Post chlorination processing and testing is very important to the manufacturing process of Cleanroom Gloves.
  • After chlorination the gloves are processed through multiple deionized water rinse cycles to further reduce residual contaminants. In this process, excess particulates, extractable ions, and nonvolatile residues are removed.
  • The gloves are then dried in HEPA filtered dryers prior to packaging. This part of the process is undertaken in a cleanroom environment.

 

The Enemy of Cleanrooms

The enemy of clean rooms is particulates that cause contamination and can damage the sensitive products being produced.

Industrial Grade Nitrile gloves are void of Cleanroom Glove processing preparation and can produce a high level of contamination.

Also Sterile Nitrile Gloves only address bacteria levels and do not reduce glove contamination levels. This fact is why Sterile Surgical Gloves should not be used in clean room applications.

If you’re operating a critical environment make sure to use disposable gloves manufactured for cleanrooms.

 

See our selection of Cleanroom Gloves here.

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