What is a cleanroom? Simply stated, a cleanroom is a controlled environment in which specific and often highly sensitive products are manufactured. True to their name, cleanrooms must stay that way, but it’s more than just mopping the floor and wiping down shelves. Depending on standards required for the equipment being used, airborne particles in a cleanroom have to be controlled to very exacting limits.
This can be challenging as the tiniest of particles move and float around with only the slightest shifts in air pressure, temperature, or humidity levels. Consider that a single particle 100 times smaller than the width of a human hair can compromise an entire cleanroom operation. The only way to stabilize potential contamination is to maintain control over the entire environment.
Types of contamination
Cleanroom contamination originates from many places including the room’s wall paint and air, tool vibrations and emissions, fluids bacteria and chemicals, and flakes or debris from products used. However, people working in the room are the greatest source of contamination. One person simply standing still produces around 100,000 particles that slough off and whisk through the air. Skin must be completely covered in special clothing and basic movements need to be thoughtfully executed.
Cleanroom cleaning basics
All cleanrooms typically include internal cleaning and maintenance procedures to maintain consistent operations and control sub-micron airborne contamination from people, processes, and equipment. Naturally, higher levels of cleanliness decrease the likelihood of particles damaging equipment or tainting sterile products and procedures.
Cleanroom cleanliness starts with the design and construction of the room itself, including tight control over air flow, pressure, temperature, and humidity. For reference, the cleanest cleanrooms contain only 1,000 or less micron-sized particles per cubic meter.
Efforts to address cleanroom contamination are specific to the room’s design and activity within, but common cleaning strategies include:
- Prevention of particles entering air filtration systems
- Purge and filter internal room air throughout the entire production process
- Include adjacent rooms of varied cleanliness to increase efficiency, such as rooms for gowning and antechamber rooms for product preparation and storage
- Provide isolated clean areas within the clean room with air pressure stabilization for specialized procedures including hazardous materials
- Storage areas for personal items such as watches, lighters, and keys
- Require hand washing prior to entering and working in a clean room. It is standard practice to wear gloves in a clean room but it is still critical to wash hands clean of potential bacteria.
- The room itself shall be cleaned with cleanroom-specific cleaners and deionized water is recommended for scrubbing floors and walls
- Use special cleanroom mops and buckets, and mop with distilled water
- Vacuum the walls every day and wipe with a damp sponge
- Walk and move slowly in the cleanroom to limit air turbulence
- Limit additional entry to and exit from the room
- Keep tools, chemicals, and supplies in adequate containers
- Consistently wipe down potentially contaminated objects
- Wear only designated and approved gowns
For more information on cleanroom cleaning, contact RJC Enterprises at (800) 582-2105 or rjcenterprises.com.