Best Practices for Wearing and Removing Cleanroom Clothing
As you navigate the complex world of cleanroom procedures, one element that can’t be overlooked is the proper donning (putting on) and doffing (taking off) of cleanroom apparel.
This includes essential items such as coveralls, gloves, and safety goggles, and secondary items like boot covers, hair nets, and face masks.
This guide will explore practices for wearing and removing cleanroom attire to ensure a contamination-free critical environment.
Understanding Cleanroom Clothing
Cleanroom apparel is designed to minimize the release of particles into the cleanroom environment. Whereas normal clothing may shed microscopic particles during normal use, in a cleanroom, these materials can interfere with an immaculate setting.
The quality and type of cleanroom apparel can vary significantly depending on the ISO class of the facility.
Importance of Cleanroom Clothing
The primary purpose of cleanroom clothing is to provide an effective barrier for the wearer while preventing material from shedding into the environment.
Any material that gets shed can compromise a production facility or interfere with valuable research.
Cleanroom apparel usually includes:
- Coveralls: These are full-body disposable suits worn to prevent the release of particles from the wearer’s clothing.
- Gloves: Disposable rubber gloves are worn to prevent contamination from the wearer’s hands. They can be made of latex, nitrile, chloroprene, PVC, and vinyl.
- Safety goggles: These are worn to protect the wearer’s eyes from chemical splashes and other hazards.
- Face masks: These are worn to prevent the spread of droplets from the wearer and to protect the wearer from hazards inside the cleanroom.
- Hair nets: These and bouffant caps are worn to contain hair contamination.
- Boot covers: Boot covers, or shoe covers, are worn over the wearer’s shoes to prevent footwear contamination.
- Tacky mats: Adhesive tacky mats are used at the cleanroom entrance to remove particles from the soles of the wearer’s shoes before they enter the cleanroom.
Cleanroom Gowning Procedure
Donning cleanroom attire, or gowning, starts before the wearer enters the cleanroom.
Cleanroom operators generally have a gowning room immediately before entering the cleanroom. This specialized room contains all the proper apparel and is cleaned frequently.
Steps for Proper Cleanroom Gowning
Here is a general guide for donning cleanroom attire:
- Hand hygiene: Wash or sanitize your hands thoroughly and allow them to dry completely.
- Hair net: Put on a bouffant cap or hair net, making sure all hair is contained and ears are covered.
- Shoe covers: Next, put on a disposable shoe or boot cover, ensuring the entire surface of the street shoe is covered.
- Gloves: Put on a pair of gloves without touching the outside surface of the glove.
- Sanitize gloves: Depending on your facility, it may be necessary to sanitize your gloves with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Coverall: Put on the coverall using an approved aseptic technique. Only touch the inside of the coverall and avoid letting it touch the floor, operator, or any surface. If a full suit is used, hair nets and boot covers are unnecessary.
- Mask: Don a mask, adjusting it for a proper fit with no gaps.
- Eye protection: Don the goggles, adjusting for a sealed fit.
- Final check: Check in the mirror before entering the cleanroom. Step on the adhesive mats to ensure no dust and debris is tracked into the controlled environment.
Cleanroom De-Gowning Procedure
Just as important as donning cleanroom attire is doffing or removing it. This should be done in a way that minimizes the risk of contamination. Here is a general guide for doffing cleanroom attire:
- Gloves: The first items to be removed are the gloves. This should be done to avoid touching the skin with the outside of the gloves.
- Goggles: Carefully remove the goggles, avoiding contact with the face or eyes.
- Boot covers: Remove the boot covers, being careful not to touch the shoes or floor with your hands.
- Coverall: Remove the coverall, again avoiding contact with the skin or surfaces. Depending on what type of suit used, it may be necessary to remove this earlier.
- Mask: The mask should be carefully removed to avoid contact with the face.
- Hand hygiene: After removing all cleanroom attire, thoroughly wash and sanitize your hands.
After removal, disposable cleanroom attire should be discarded appropriately, while reusable attire should be prepared for washing.
Training and Compliance
The cleanroom manager trains operators on the donning and doffing procedures. Training minimizes the risk of contamination and ensures controlled environments remain controlled.
Managers must enforce procedural compliance and refresh training every quarter.
Proper donning and doffing of cleanroom clothing is critical to maintaining the integrity of the cleanroom environment. Maintain adequate supplies of cleanroom consumables to keep your environment operational.
By following the best practices outlined in this guide, cleanroom operators can minimize the risk of contamination and ensure the quality of their products.
Remember, while this guide provides general advice, each facility should have its own detailed standard operating procedures (SOPs) for cleanroom gowning and de-gowning based on its specific needs and requirements.