What Materials Can Be Used in a Cleanroom?

SAGE Coater Buffer Steel with headerThe individual classes of cleanrooms will dictate many specifics regarding the types of materials allowed in a controlled environment. For example, required garments and acceptable garment materials vary by class.  The same is true for solvents. Then there are everyday items that are generally prohibited in any cleanroom. Some of these items are available in a cleanroom-approved form. It is imperative that these approved items are used and never substituted with everyday items. Here is a general breakdown of things you don’t want in your cleanroom and also which items can be found cleanroom-approved.

Prohibited Cleanroom Materials:

    • • Food and drink
    • • Gum
    • • Makeup
    • • Wood products
    • • Leather
    • • Bare aluminum
    • • Cardboard
    • • Regular writing utensils
    • • Regular paper or notebooks
    • • Books and bookbags
    • • Greases, oils, lubricants
    • • Silica gel
    • • Any unapproved tape or adhesive
    • • Plastic bags
    • • Bubble wrap
    • • Velcro
    • • Powders
    • • Aerosol
    • • Open cell foam materials
    • • Commercial vacuum cleaners (or other unapproved cleaning equipment)
    • • Unapproved plastic

As you can probably gather by reading the list, several of these items are available as cleanroom-approved materials. Many cleanroom suppliers offer cleanroom-safe objects that include:

    • • Paper and notebooks
    • • Pens and pencils
    • • Adhesives or tape
    • • Solvents
    • • Cleaning materials, including containers, mops, buckets, vacuum cleaners, wipes, detergents and more
    • • Plastic containers

Keeping Contaminate Levels Down

Protocol will vary for electronics, so make sure you know the rules of your cleanroom before bringing in laptops, cell phones, and any other similar equipment. Additionally, certain behavior will help keep contaminate levels down:

    • • Work in slow, calm movements
    • • Keep talking to a minimum
    • • Do not enter a cleanroom immediately after smoking
    • • Wash hands before and after you’ve been in a cleanroom
    • • Put clothes on and take them off in the correct order. For most environments, you’d follow the order cap, gown/full dress, shoes, and gloves. You would remove each in reverse order
    • • Ensure that your clothing fits properly before entering the cleanroom
    • • Use hairnets and beard covers
    • • Don’t bring unnecessary items into a cleanroom

Remember: particulate control is not only dependent on the materials used in the cleanroom; personnel create more particles than anything else. Using proper garments as well as appropriate hygiene and behavior will all significantly affect cleanroom integrity.

When in Doubt, Don’t Bring it in

As a general rule of thumb for materials, when in doubt, don’t bring it in. You never want to risk compromising the cleanliness of a controlled environment. It is helpful to keep a list of acceptable materials somewhere all personnel can easily access it. Encourage staff to work as a team and train them on the proper way to tell someone else if he or she is behaving inappropriately. Many mistakes can be avoided when everyone looks out for each other.

Questions?

Gerbig Cleanrooms performs certification and validation of cleanrooms. We also build quality Airecell cleanrooms. For questions about equipment, processes, or construction, contact us at 888-628-0056 or info@gerbig.com.