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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ESD Swabs in Sensitive Environments

Combat ESD in Sensitive Environments with the Right Swabs

Controlling electrostatic discharge (ESD) is an important aspect of ensuring the quality of electrical components throughout manufacturing processes. By nature, some electronics are more sensitive to static than others, which is why many manufacturing plants have special environments like cleanrooms for keeping static at the lowest possible levels. While it’s equally important to protect electronics against ESD after manufacturing, such as throughout transport and device assembly procedures, controlling the levels in critical manufacturing environments is the first step to keeping your components intact.

The Risks of ESD

While there are many different types of electronics prone to damage from static exposure, hardware is particularly fragile. Network hardware devices, for instance, can become compromised by being exposed to as little as 100 volts of electricity. The damage is permanent and irreversible, thus rendering your equipment unusable and worthless.

Just how much electricity does it take to produce 100 volts? Put it this way: walking across a carpet can create as many as 35,000 volts. Imagine how many volts could be produced on a daily basis with countless employees moving about in your organization! Thus, minimizing ESD in your critical environments through all means possible is essential to preserving the quality of your components.

Of course, there are other types of electronics which could become damaged by ESD during manufacturing, too. The problem lies in the fact that damage isn’t always noticeable until later, during subsequent testing stages. Therefore, the amount of time and money wasted throughout various in production phases can be significant when components become damaged as a result of ESD. Moreover, the consequences of failed electronics can be devastating depending on the application. While damaged network hardware could cripple your company headquarters’ communications for a day or so, a failed airplane component could have a much more serious, and potentially even deadly, impact.

Ways to Prevent ESD

To keep ESD at the lowest possible levels, you likely have an Electrostatic Discharge Protected Area (EPA) somewhere within your manufacturing plant which could range from a basic work station to a full-blown work space. Within this area, all conductive materials should be grounded to prevent transfer of ESD – this includes humans, too. Your printed circuit boards will also have ground planes to give current a return path.

There are a broad range of tactics you can use to prevent ESD levels within your electronic assembly environment. From anti-static mats to ESD strip shoe covers and conducting wrist straps, organizations use a variety of tools to keep static out of critical work areas. Many organizations must also adhere to specific air quality requirements to prevent humidity levels from dipping too low (or conversely, climbing too high), which can also lead to ESD. Keeping components in anti-static containers until the moment they’re ready to be installed is another way to prevent static. Finally, one less-thought of – yet equally important – way you can control ESD is through choosing the proper type of swabs.

Anti-Static Swabs

Puritan ESD Swab 1621-PF ESD
Puritan ESD Swab 1621-PF ESD

Swabs are used throughout electronic assembly for a number of different purposes. Your employees might use them to apply adhesives, or cleaning small, hard-to-reach places. They also come in handy for surface sampling and validation procedures in cleanroom environments.

If your employees use swabs during any stage of the workflow while handling electronics, it’s advisable to provide them with anti-static swabs to further eliminate ESD. Anti-static swabs have all of the benefits of traditional swabs, allowing you to clean fragile machinery and small components, but do not carry the risk of transmitting static to your electronics.

These swabs are unique in the fact that they feature special shaft materials which are inherently static-free. For instance, many of these swabs’ shafts contain carbon, which is known to eradicate any static buildup. Common shaft materials for anti-static swabs are static dissipative polypropylene and wood (wood swabs are generally not safe for cleanrooms but could still be used in Electrostatic Discharge Protected Areas or elsewhere.

Likewise, the tips are also constructed using materials designed specifically to deter and minimize static discharge. You can choose among ESD microfiber swabs, which are non-linting and safe for use in EPAs, or static dissipative foam swabs. There are also knitted polyester tipped swabs and ESD foam-tipped swabs  with anti-static attributes available to meet each environment’s unique needs.

No matter your specific needs, Harmony Business Supplies has the right anti-static swab for you. By choosing swabs designed to keep ESD at bay, you can reduce the risk of compromising your sensitive products and potentially costing your organization countless dollars and time in damages. To browse through our vast array of anti-static swabs and other products created for sensitive cleanroom environments, take a look at our website. Still not sure which swabs are the right choice for your needs? Feel free to get in touch with one of our knowledgeable product specialists for help.

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ESD Shoe Covers 101

ESD Shoe Covers 101
Skid Resistant Conductive Strip Shoe Covers
Shoe Cover with Conductive Strip to prevent ESD

In many industries, electrostatic discharge (ESD) has the potential to contaminate equipment, products, and environments. One of the most effective ways to prevent ESD is to limit the ways in which it’s created. In cleanroom environments, that starts with grounding your employees. To keep operators grounded and to thwart ESD, employers implement ESD shoe covers, also sometimes referred to as conductive strip shoe covers.

Electrostatic sensitive devices can include computer cards, laser diodes, high-precision resistors, MOSFET transistors which are used to make integrated circuits (IC)s, and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). When exposed to ESD, these types of devices may be rendered useless, thus draining your company’s resources. As such, controlling ESD is imperative not only for ensuring safe and productive workflows, but also for extending the lifespan of your devices and staying within budget.

Even when floors are properly grounded, wearing ESD shoe covers is still a good idea. You can never have too many grounding methods. Some employees may feel that wearing ESD covers can be a nuisance, but in reality, it’s a necessary compliance step and should be viewed as a compulsory aspect of working in a cleanroom environment.
While there are many types of shoe covers available, only certain materials are considered static-resistant. For instance, polyurethane shoe covers may work well for general purpose applications, including medical and food processing environments, but a conductive strip must be included on conductive shoe covers to provide ESD grounding.
When choosing ESD shoe covers to meet your company’s needs, there are a few considerations to be mindful of:

  • Material: Of course, you’ll want to make sure you’re selecting anti-static materials. A non-woven carbon conductive strip can facilitate grounding and prevent ESD. Choosing latex-free options is also advantageous, as the material is a common allergen.
  • Fit: To accommodate wearers of all shoe sizes, a fit of 16” L by 8” W works well. The sturdy strips ensure a snug fit against the shoe to prevent slipping. Not only does this support comfort, it also thwarts ESD effectively.
  • Slip Resistance: There are both regular sole and skid-resistant options available for ESD shoe covers. The skid-free soles are useful in potentially slippery conditions. In cleanroom environments, where surfaces may be more slippery due to their sanitary nature, it may be beneficial to opt for skid-resistant conductive shoe covers to keep your employees safe.

Conductive shoe covers are made from lightweight material to prevent discomfort. In fact, they’re so comfortable that wearers may wind up forgetting they even have them on! In an environment where impurities simply can’t enter the equation, ESD shoe covers are an effective line of defense for keeping your devices safe. They’ll also limit contamination to help keep your cleanrooms and products immaculate.
Both regular sole and skid-resistant conductive shoe covers come in large quantities to last you a long period of time. To browse ESD shoe cover options, visit Harmony Business Supplies online.