If your employees don’t follow proper gowning techniques, you risk contaminating your cleanroom environment and damaging products in the process. Taking time to periodically review proper garment selection, dressing procedures and expectations of staff members before they enter a cleanroom environment helps prevent unwanted incidents.
These tips refer to standard cleanroom protocols for Class 100 through 100,000 environments, as advised by the University of Southern California’s Environmental Health and Safety department based on information from Controlled Environments Magazine.
When arriving, employees must do a preliminary cleaning of their exposed skin and everyday clothing. First, instruct them to remove any coats or sweaters and wash their hands, face and lower arms with cleanroom-approved sanitizing soap to remove makeup, skincare products and dirt. Often, rings and exposed jewelry will also need to be removed or tucked under cleanroom garments.
Recommended practice for entry into a cleanroom would be to walk over a tacky mat with each foot making contact with the mat 2-3 times. After entering the gowning room area, employees will don their coveralls or frocks and place shoe covers on each foot, one at a time, swinging each foot over the gowning bench to the clean side of the gowning room.
Covering Body, Feet and Hands
Most industries will rely on coveralls, frocks, lab coats, protective sleeves or isolation gowns to conceal everyday clothing. These cleanroom garments should never touch the floor during gowning. Implementing gowning racks and benches are a good idea for an easy transition into the protective clothing. The last thing you want is to have to stand on one foot, lose your balance and fall, thus having to start the process all over again.
If wearing coveralls, employees should tuck the lower leg coverings into cleanroom approved boots. If at any time the coveralls or other gowning items tear, the dressing process should start over with fresh garments to reduce possible contamination. Use the boot snaps to secure them to the coveralls.
Hands should be covered with gloves that fit snug over the sleeves of the coveralls, so no skin is exposed. The material will depend on the industry and what’s least reactive to the working environment. Popular choices include latex, neoprene, nitrile, vinyl, or tri blend chemical glove.
Face and Hair Cleanroom Protocols
Both men and women should wear a head covering, such as a bouffant cap, and facial or beard cover. All hair as well as your ears should be completely covered. Proper garments fit snug, with no gaps around the nose or mouth.
Some cleanrooms, depending on the products produced, will also implement hoods, goggles, face shields and face masks. These reduce contamination to protect your product as well as prevents contact from potential skin irritants.
In the class 100 environment, employees may be required to put on a second layer of gloves before proceeding to the cleanroom workspace. Supplies and tools needed in the cleanroom should be thoroughly wiped down with an isopropyl alcohol (IPA) / DI water solution, then moved through a material pass-through or equipment transfer room to enter the cleanroom.
Take the time to review these techniques and criteria with your staff to prevent contamination in your cleanroom environment. If you need to stock up on clean room garments or gowning room furniture, Cleanroom World has what you need. Shop our extensive selection today!