After you’ve dedicated your time and resources to outfit your cleanroom with the best materials and equipment, you want to make sure to maintain an exceptionally clean environment so your cleanroom can function at peak performance. A lot of factors go into making sure your cleanroom is as clean as possible, from the products you use to the staff that use them. No matter what class rating your cleanroom has, cleaning your cleanroom will ensure longevity and improve efficiency.
All cleanrooms require continual maintenance to be able to operate their best. Cleanrooms should be cleaned according to a regular schedule, meeting daily and weekly tasks.
Industry Standards Vary
Cleanrooms vary widely in use. Manufacturing cleanrooms don’t have the same functions or standards as pharmaceutical or laboratory cleanrooms. Depending on the industry you’re in, your cleanroom will have a specific layout, ISO rating, and cleanliness standard. Therefore, its cleaning schedule and procedure will also differ. Cleanrooms with higher ISO ratings must be kept at much higher levels of sanitation to reduce the chance of interference of minute particles and contaminants. Conversely, cleanrooms with lower class ratings, while they may be less threatened by certain contaminants or smaller particle sizes, still require regular cleaning to maintain standards and efficiency.
Prevention is Key
The best way to keep your cleanroom clean is to follow proper sanitation techniques before entering a cleanroom. These include things like washing and drying hands completely, using sterile and not powdered gloves, following the proper gowning procedure for your ISO class, and making sure that all employees have access to garments and tools that fit them.
In a perfect world, we would prevent contamination by introducing zero contaminants into your cleanroom environment. Of course, this is virtually impossible, which is why regular cleaning and maintenance of your cleanroom and its systems is critical.
Cleanroom Cleaning Procedure:
Keeping your workspace clean requires diligent adherence to daily and weekly cleaning tasks. Depending on the strictness of your class standard, more rigorous objectives may need to be added, or these tasks will need to be completed more frequently. Whatever your facility requires, create and follow a cleaning schedule that clearly defines all assignments, making them easy to understand and follow. Here are the general cleaning protocols recommended for broad cleanroom needs.
- Before shift begins, use a damp mop on floors and vacuum to dry.
- Vacuum all walls using a HEPA filter vacuum.
- Wash and wipe dry all windows and pass-throughs.
- At the end of every shift, wipe down all work areas. This may need to occur more frequently with high class standards.
- Put away products and supplies between shifts to prevent further contamination.
- Mop floors with a cleanroom-specific detergent, distilled water, and a HEPA filter vacuum.
- Wipe walls with a damp sponge and distilled water, then vacuum dry.
- Ceiling should be washed with detergent and distilled water to remove any residue or deposits.
- Using a damp sponge, wipe off all light lenses.
- Change sticky mats as soon as you notice wear.
Remember, your specific cleanroom may have specialized cleaning requirements. If you can keep and follow methodical cleaning procedures, you can enhance your cleanroom’s ability to serve you and your facility.
Cleaning your Cleanroom: What to Know
It’s important to note that even if you follow a regular cleaning schedule, contaminants call still infiltrate your cleanroom and interrupt your processes. Cleaning your cleanroom is more than just the protocol; it also relies on your products, people, and regular performance checks.
Cleaning products that are improperly sterilized or unsuitable for cleanroom use can be a cause of contamination. It’s recommended that you use deionized and distilled water for mopping and wiping surfaces and use only cleanroom-specified cleaning agents. All chemicals and solvents for cleaning must be neutral and non-ionic, and also non-foaming so as to avoid buildup on surfaces over time. High ISO class cleanrooms (ISO level 5-7) often require disinfectants to be sterilized before use, further protecting the cleanroom from any contaminants.
Never use scrubs or rags that could shed or corrode surfaces. Instead, only use woven polyester that is specified for cleanroom use. Employ a mopping system that separates dirty and clean water and will not scratch or contaminate the floor or walls. Follow a mopping protocol that efficiently cleans floors without spreading dirty water over cleaned areas.
It’s also a good practice to bring all materials that will be needed — such as brooms, mops, and cleaning agents — into the cleanroom before beginning to clean. This way, once the process is complete, you only need to exit once, reducing the possibility of contamination.
All staff members and janitorial personnel should be well-educated on gowning procedures, environmental sterilization practices, and general equipment maintenance. It is important that they have a thorough understanding of the best methods for maintaining the cleanroom’s class standards.
Staff should also know what to do in case of a spill. Tools and cleaning supplies should be accessible, but not out in the open where cross-contamination could occur. Having guides and cleaning checklists posted visibly in the room will help staff maintain a sanitary environment.
Even if you’re doing everything right, continue to check your systems and air to monitor their quality and maintain particle levels. Air samplers or settle plates can be used to test for organisms and measure particles per cubic feet.
Additionally, regular checkups of your HVAC system will make sure it is maintaining a steady temperature, level of humidity, and consistently changing air to your ISO specifications.
Many other variables can impede the cleaning process. Your cleanroom’s layout should enable a uniform changing of air, free of any obstacles that could interrupt airflow. Furniture, cleaning materials, and even personnel can accidentally block HEPA filters that are responsible for cleaning the air, causing contaminants to build up. Instruct staff to maintain clear airways during cleaning or talk with cleanroom design experts if you’re concerned that your structure is not promoting efficiency.
Your cleanroom’s cleaning needs depend on your specific requirements, ISO rating and level of use of your facility. Keeping a regular cleaning schedule, using cleanroom-specific cleaning agents and properly training staff in sanitization techniques will help you protect your cleanroom environment and boost the efficiency of your facility.
If you’re cleaning your cleanroom, and still not getting the results you want, it might be time for a bit of maintenance. Talk to the experts at Angstrom for help making sure everything in your cleanroom is working the way it should.