What materials can be used in a cleanroom? What is not allowed?


Understanding what materials can be brought into the cleanroom is a crucial step to controlling contamination. Additionally, once in the cleanroom, it’s important to adhere to proper behaviors to further reduce the risk of contamination. Like other workplaces, personnel can spend all day inside the cleanroom. Materials required to perform daily tasks can also be like a standard office, the only difference is that items within the cleanroom cannot shed particulate and/or VOC’s. Because of this, materials need to be cleanroom approved.

This can pose a challenge because most standard office supplies items needed to perform day-to-day activities such as pens, paper, sticky notes, clipboards, pens, and even tissue are prohibited. Special cleanroom approved documentation is permitted because it is processed and packaged specifically for cleanroom use. There are other less obvious items that need to be cleanroom approved. This includes chairs, workbenches, flooring, mats, and mouse pads, just to name a few. Other items that are not specifically made for a cleanroom should get approval and be wiped down with disinfectant.

Before we dive into items that are typically prohibited, we should review several pre-entry rules. Most cleanroom protocols will have personal remove and store personal items in a locker or desk prior to entry. Any other items and equipment such as carts should be prepared according to your specific cleanroom protocol. Now, let’s investigate items that are typically not allowed inside the cleanroom:

Common items that are not approved in the Cleanroom

  • Cardboard, non-cleanroom approved paper, bubble wrap, Styrofoam, tissues, paper towels, unapproved tape
  • Personal electronics such as phones, headphones, and computers
  • Jewelry – earrings, necklaces, bracelets, watches
  • Wood products
  • Items with rust or flaking paint
  • Leather or unapproved synthetic materials
  • Velcro
  • Unapproved chemicals such as grease, oils, aerosol, or lubricants
  • Powders
  • Unapproved plastics

Unapproved Behaviors:

  • Smoking or vaping, using matches or lighters
  • Use of standard tissues or paper towels
  • Eating and drinking is typically prohibited
  • Touching surfaces without gloves
  • Rapid movements that create air disturbance
  • Tearing, cutting, or ripping paper
  • Removal of cleanroom garments
  • Picking up and using tools or materials off the floor, without prior cleaning.

*Follow your specific cleanroom or company procedural manual before this guide.

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