Every part of your cleanroom’s design should work for you, from its protective flooring and wall panels to the fume hoods and HEPA filters. Each element serves a purpose to change the air, reduce risk, or limit contamination. What about garments? What are they, and how do they serve you and your cleanroom’s work? Here is everything you need to know about cleanroom garments.
What Are Cleanroom Garments?
Cleanroom garments are pieces of clothing worn in a cleanroom to limit human contamination. They are essentially filters for people, blocking contaminates and shedding particles from entering the cleanroom environment as much as possible. Cleanroom garments are necessary in almost all class standards, though garment and material specifications may differ.
What Are Cleanroom Garments Used for?
In your cleanroom, you can control almost every contaminating factor through isolation, careful cleaning procedures, and thorough sterilization — except humans. People are the most contaminating element of cleanroom environments, and the hardest to keep clean. From dead skin cells to hair, textile fibers and dust, and microbes from body oils, saliva, and other bacteria — even when practicing meticulous personal hygiene, humans are sloppily packaged messes. The average person sheds 10 million particles of skin alone in a single day. The more we move and talk, the more particles and microbes we shed, putting sensitive work at risk. While we have almost complete control over the rest of the environment, we’ll never be able to entirely eliminate human contamination of cleanrooms.
Cleanroom garments are the best solution to this problem. They cover people up, limiting particle shedding as much as humanly possible. They significantly reduce our risk of ruining the cleanliness of our workspaces, and are absolutely essential to meet rigorous class standards.
Cleanroom garments have another important purpose. Not only do they block our contaminates from hurting our products, but they are protective for the wearer as well. In cases where the work could be caustic or hazardous, cleanroom garments can protect delicate skin, eyes, and respiratory systems from dangerous substances.
What’s Included? Common Cleanroom Garments
Cleanroom garments are essential for life-as-usual within almost all cleanrooms. They should be non-particle shedding, easy to put on, comfortable to wear for long periods of time, and be able to withstand the process of sterilization. Different cleanroom garments will be required depending on your class type. Your class will also specify the materials that can be worn. Some typical cleanroom garment items include: a coat and pants or coverall to cover the body; head gear like a mask, hood or both; goggles; shoe covers or boots; and, of course, gloves.
Coat and Pants, or Coverall
The coat and pants or combination coverall must be made of an appropriate fabric type for your cleanroom class standard, either woven, spun-bonded, or laminated fabric. They will have as few seams as possible and fit a bit large but not baggy. All clothing must have adjustable closures at the openings, with no pockets.
Cleanroom head gear will cover all hair completely to prevent any loose hairs from shedding into your cleanroom environment. Beard covers are available, too. If extreme control or protection is required, a hood with its own ventilation and filtering may be necessary.
Cleanroom-specific face masks are either surgical-style with elastic or fabric straps, or a veil that is attached to the rest of the suit.
If your cleanroom requires the use of goggles, they are used to prevent shedding of particles from the eyes or eyebrows, and also act as protection against sparks or splashing substances.
Shoe covers are usually used when entering a gowning room. Before entering the cleanroom, more sterile footwear is donned to further limit possible contamination. Some low class standards might allow just shoe covers to be worn over appropriate footwear within the cleanroom.
Boots are typically used as a cleanroom garment to cover pant legs and are secured with straps to fasten over footwear. They have rubber or plastic soles for advanced protection against static electricity.
Barrier gloves are the most common piece of cleanroom garments, and can be made from a variety of materials, depending on your cleanroom’s needs: Latex will fit well but may be allergenic; nitrile gloves are tear and chemical-resistant; vinyl is a low-cost glove material option but it can tear easily. All gloves must be powder free. They are pulled over the wrists to cover the sleeve of the garment. For extra protection, gloves can be layered.
Cleanroom garments will vary for different applications including pharmaceutical or laboratory applications, manufacturing cleanrooms, or grow rooms. Combined with good personal hygiene, slow and deliberate movement, and proper training, garments are effective defenses against cleanroom contamination by people.
Your class standards will be the ultimate guide for what cleanroom garments your application requires. If you have questions about your cleanroom classifications or standards, talk to the experts at Angstrom Technology! We can help you design and install a cleanroom that adheres to any classification your application requires. Visit us online to reach out.