Chemicals to Avoid when Cleaning Cleanrooms

When choosing your cleaning solvents, ensure you’re not using solutions with either of these agents.

It should go without saying that keeping a cleanroom and cleanroom components clean is a top priority for any industry. The obstacle is that if you can’t physically clean surfaces, which is the most fastidious yet successful method, you have to choose chemicals, all of which leave behind some sort of residue. The key, then, is to choose a chemical that leaves the “right” kind of residue behind.

In looking at your many options, there are chemicals that you should certainly avoid. MaryBeth DiDonna wrote an article for Controlled Environments, “Choosing Your Cleaning Chemicals,” that offers guidance on this. She includes the expertise of Dr. Robert Baier, head of the biomaterials program at the University of Buffalo, and Ed and Barbara Kanegsberg of BFK Solutions in Pacific Palisades, CA.

Baier warns against silicones because they’re strong surface-active materials. He’s quoted in the article: “If you have a small contaminant in one corner of a table, by the next week the entire table will be covered [along with] anything on it. It will change the surface properties of a material like silicon or germanium or anything else you may be working on. In, say, an integrated circuit fabrication facility — everything will be siliconized and nearly impossible to be removed.”

The other caution that experts mention in the article is ultrapure water.

Ed Kanegsberg explains that this level of purity acts both as a strong base and strong acid simultaneously, looking to extract ions wherever possible. Barbara Kanegsberg explains where ultrapure water finds the ions:

“In part from the thing that you’re trying to wash or rinse, whatever you’re trying to do. That doesn’t mean that we should be using impure water, but it’s a matter of being mindful of what the chemical is. And water in itself, depending on the situation, can be a rather harsh chemical in terms of the quality of the surface.”

So when you’re doing the research to find the best chemical solvents for your facility, heed the warnings to avoid silicones and ultrapure water. When it’s time for cleanroom validation or certification, turn to a company with the right experience and knowhow. Gerbig Engineering Company has been a trusted expert on cleanrooms for thirty years. We offer many services for cleanroom validation, certification, and construction. Contact us at 888-628-0056 or