Maintaining a cleanroom or controlled environment requires the use of products and tools designed specifically for these areas. When spills and contamination occur in these critical environments, your employees should be able to have cleanroom wipes within reach for the most effective and convenient cleaning possible.
Here, we’ll provide a basic overview of cleanroom wipes to help you determine which type your organization needs most.
Why Are Cleanroom Wipes Needed?
To understand why it’s imperative for cleanroom wipes to be used in certain environments, it’s helpful to first have an understanding of cleanrooms. A cleanroom is any sensitive environment in which the amount of pollutants must be monitored and kept to a minimum. Pollutants can include substances found naturally in the air, such as dust, microbes, particles, and even certain vapors.
Cleanroom environments are classified according to the number of particles (sized .5 micrometers or larger) allowed per cubic meter. For instance, to be classified at ISO 6, a room must have 35,200 particles or fewer per square meter; but an ISO 4 cleanroom can only have 352.
Cleanrooms are used in a broad range of industries, including pharmaceuticals and aerospace semiconductor engineering. They’re also used in manufacturing for medical devices, computer components like microchips, optics, and military applications.
To sustain the appropriate cleanroom classification, employees who work in these highly sensitive environments must follow stringent procedures on a day-to-day basis. Everything from their attire to cleaning techniques must follow a specific protocol to facilitate contamination control. Thus, using the proper cleaning materials is integral to keeping the number of pollutants down in a cleanroom.
How Are They Different from Ordinary Wipes?
Cleanroom wipes aren’t like ordinary wipes because they’re made differently. They feature lower levels of lint to protect against contaminants, and some boast higher levels of absorbency, resistance to chemicals and abrasion, and in general, better cleaning capabilities. They’re also softer, making them safe for use on sensitive equipment.
Like the cleanrooms themselves, cleanroom wipes have different classifications to be used in corresponding cleanrooms. For instance, many cleanroom wipes are compatible with ISO class 6 or higher. Likewise, the wipes are also produced in cleanroom environments, to ensure the highest possible quality.
What Are Advantages of Cleanroom Wipes?
Cleanroom wipes are handy for quickly wiping down a surface in a cleanroom environment after a spill or contamination has occurred. Some are made to handle specific cleaning solvents, such as IPA, and other types of solutions. Using cleanroom wipes allows your teams to disinfect surfaces while also ensuring sterilization and reducing the levels of endotoxins present in the environment.
What Are The Types of Cleanroom Wipes?
There are a few different factors to consider when seeking out the best cleanroom wipe to suit your needs. We’ll walk through each, below.
Types of Cleanroom Wipe Border/Edge Seals
Cleanroom Wipers have sealed edges to prevent particle and fiber generation and provide a clean wipe. Cleanroom wipes can have a sealed border, a sealed edge, or a cut edge. The level of fiber and particle release will depend on your wipe seal. Note the difference in sealing the border around the wipe (most clean) or just the wipe edge (most common).
Cleanroom Class 1-10 (ISO 3-4):
Sealed Border wipers are the cleanest & best performing choice for your most critical tasks. Maximum cleanliness and fiber control.
A proprietary process using pressure & heat is used to create a border seal for optimum fiber and particle retention, resulting in a 5mm Ultrasonic Border Seal around the border of the wipe.
Cleanroom Class 10-100 (ISO 4-5):
Sealed Edge wipers are exceptionally clean and a common critical task wiper. The difference over border seals is that only the edging of the wipe is sealed instead of a border around the edge of the wipe. A Laser Sealed Edge is provided on all sides for maximum fiber and particle retention. A Ultrasonic Sealed Edge involves a process using pressure & heat to create an ultrasonic seal for fiber and particle retention. Ultrasonic Sealing is superior to Laser Sealing as it results in a softer edge, and lower carbon levels.
Cleanroom Class 100-10,000 (ISO 5-7):
Hot Knife or Laser Sealed Edge
Knit (Woven) Wipers
Light weight with a Laser Sealed Edge to provide effective contamination control in critical environments and offer the best value. Low levels of contamination and superb particle removal and retention make this the ideal wiper where economical and effective cleaning is required. Most economical critical use knit wipers.
Excellent absorbency and particle removal in controlled environments. Commonly used in many general cleaning applications. Higher levels of fiber and contaminants than knit wipers. Excellent choice for economical cleaning & spill pick-up. These non-woven wipers have Hot Knife Sealed Edges.
Woven (Knit) Vs. Non-Woven:
Woven cleanroom wipes
Dry-knitted and considered to be the cleanest type. They’re often made from polyester and may be safe for use in classes ISO 4 or 5. Woven cleanroom wipes are strong, non-shedding, soft, and highly absorbent. They can even be gamma irradiated for enhanced sterility to support lower microbiological endotoxin levels.
Non-woven cleanroom wipes
A more economical choice for less-critical environments. They, too, are strong and low-linting. The wipes made from polypropylene/cellulose blends are resistant to acids and many other types of chemicals. Non-woven wipes are also supremely soft and thus safe for use on sensitive equipment.
Wet Vs. Dry:
Wet, or pre-saturated wipes, are already moistened with a cleaning solution such as isopropyl alcohol. The moisture levels in wet wipes may support their ability to capture pollutants, as they facilitate a stronger bond to contaminants.
Dry wipes, too, can retain particles, but without a cleaning solution, they must be strong enough to wipe up the spilled material on their own to be effective. However, cleaning solvents can be used with dry wipes separately, affording the user a better ability to achieve their desired level of saturation.
While wet cleanroom wipes boast convenience, dry wipes may be more versatile. Ultimately, both serve unique purposes and choosing which is better for your application comes down to personal preference.
What Are Some Best Practices for Using Cleanroom Wipes?
To get the most from your cleanroom wipes, it’s important to train employees on using them correctly. Here are some helpful tips to be mindful of:
- Follow a Schedule: Cleanroom wipes are only effective for reducing particles if they’re being used for regular cleaning in addition to wiping up spills. To maintain sterilized surfaces, proper cleanings should be performed daily. Thus, it’s helpful to encourage your employees to closely follow a routine. While cleaning standards may vary by level, keeping track of cleanings by documenting them can be helpful in any industry and cleanroom class.
- Fold Wipes: Folding wipes in half or even in quarters allows users to get the maximum use out of their surface area. Using an entire wipe to clean just one small area is wasteful, so to stretch your budget ask employees to fold wipes and then clean each space with a different side. You really shouldn’t use an un-folded wipe. Fold it at least once or twice for the most effective wipe!
- Don’t Reuse: While folding extends the capacity of each wipe, it’s imperative to avoid spreading contaminants. Develop a specified technique which all employees should use to avoid cleaning multiple surfaces with the same wipe. Don’t risk cross-contamination by going back and forth between clean and dirty areas.
- Moisten Appropriately: Finally, if you’re not using pre-saturated cleanroom wipes, make sure the wipes you use are neither too wet nor too dry. Overly wet wipes will simply saturate the surface and spread bacteria further, while using wipes that are too dry may hinder your ability to attract all of the contaminants in the area.
Whichever type of cleanroom wipe you select for your needs, Harmony Lab & Safety Supplies has the perfect solution for you. You can view our vast selection of cleanroom wipes now, or get in touch with a product specialist to learn more about identifying the proper type to support your business needs.