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Cleanroom Gowning and Contamination Prevention

Marc Kaplan


Did you know that in a clean room, most environmental parameters, including quality and type of gaseous substances, as well as temperature and humidity, are highly controlled to keep off microbes as efficiently as possible?

The cleanroom is an area typically used for scientific research, making it a highly sterile region where everyone should be keen and careful when accessing it. This is where donning comes in handy.

Donning is the most critical cleanroom precaution phase in the proper gowning sequence, and is vital for preventing the risk of contamination, and infection. Other essential bits include handling cleanroom products, which you should also do with caution.

We shall take you through a simple guide to successfully maintaining your cleanroom’s pristine environment.

Pre-Gowning Procedures

Preliminary cleaning is arguably the most critical, yet assumed-much, step in the gowning sequence. When you get to the cleaning area, the first thing to do is take off any coats, or sweaters that you might be wearing. You should also remove jewelry like rings, earrings, bangles, watches, necklaces, and the like.

Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to leave your makeup on. Why? This isn’t only because of germs in the cosmetics and your face, but also because of staining cleanroom apparel and reacting the cosmetic ingredients with the substances in the chemicals you handle.

After that, you need to thoroughly, wash your hands, lower arms, and face using ratified disinfecting cleanroom soap to wash off the dirt. A recommended detergent would be an antiseptic solution comprising of at least 1% Chlorhexidine or Povidone Iodine.

You should apply this antiseptic solution on your hands, fingers (also under your nails), and lower arms meticulously for about three minutes, and in running water. Under no circumstance should you use a brush during this process. Finish up with a gentle rinse and drying.

To dry your hands, rub Ethanol, or Isopropanol (with glycerol) and Chlorhexidine on your hands and forearms, like you would do with lotion until you're completely dry. Do not use any cloth to dry your hands.

As you enter the gowning room area, walk on a tacky mat to avoid directly contacting the floor, and to get rid of excess soil under your shoes.

Gowning Procedures

The gowning room is not a sterile region. Therefore, you must maintain a certain level of caution when handling everything. Remember you’ve cleaned up your hands and arms, don’t reverse the process by touching bacteria-prone surfaces in the gowning room.

Cleanroom garments shouldn’t touch the floor; this is why you’re advised to implement gowning racks, and benches for these protective clothing. Okay, it's time to wear your cleanroom apparel; which is for safety from chemicals and maintaining the pristine cleanroom environment.

Cover all your hair and both ears with a bouffant cap, and use a beard cover as well. For the face, you may want to take extra precaution by wearing goggles, and face masks, depending on what procedures you run in the cleanroom. When donning a hood, keep contact with the inside part, and ensure it entirely covers the bouffant cap.

Use disposable shoe covers to cover your feet. Ensure the covers have concealed each part of your shoe, including the shoelaces. A safer alternative is incorporating cleanroom boots or any other kind of footwear.

If you're wearing coveralls, tuck them into your cleanroom boots, so they don't touch the floor. This is also an excellent way to ensure there's coverage throughout your legs and feet; while the shoes cover the rest.

Get a pair of gloves for your hands. Start by donning your most dominant hand first, and when done, ensure you tuck your coveralls underneath the gloves to cover all skin.

Steps to Donning the Coveralls

Donning the coveralls is quite a long procedure, so we've decided to break down each step for you. While it may seem an easy task, one wrong move will declare the level too contaminated to enter the cleanroom. So how do you carefully slap on your overalls?

Step One: Grab out the coverall from the cleanroom bag by the inside of its neck.

Step two: After the coverall ultimately unfolds, go ahead and unzip it. 

Step three: Roll them into a tube as you gather the sleeves from the inside.

Step four: Start by inserting one foot in one leg of your coverall and pull it up to your thigh; then do the same with the other leg.

Step five: After covering both legs, pull the coverall to your waist, then unroll the top part to insert the arms.

Step six: Start by inserting one arm, just as you did the legs. Roll the coverall up your arm, over your shoulder and your back to the other side of your body to fit in the other arm.

Final step: Zip the coverall to the top, then snap your collar and ankles.

Once done carefully donning the coveralls, head on to the boots. Just like you wore the coveralls, start with one boot onto the next. Remember to grab each boot from the inside. When done with the first boot, step into the cleaner area, and follow that process.

Bonus Cleanroom Tips

In case you slightly contaminate apparels, or your hands, you must immediately go back to the wash area and start the process from scratch. This means taking off the garments you may have already worn and getting a new batch.

Workspace tools and apparatus should also go through a cleaning procedure. Wipe them with the right amount of isopropyl alcohol (IPA) or DI water solution. Once done, get them to the cleanroom using a material pass-through equipment.

For the disposable medical supplies, have separate bins in the cleanroom for each type of supply, and ensure to dump the supplies into the right bin immediately after use.

 The Apparel Doffing Sequence

This involves removal of the apparel, which entails the reverse steps of a gowning sequence. The first thing to do is to place reusable items carefully; gowns, goggles, and boots, in their proper receptacle (each type of object should have a separate repository).

After that, put on your shoes and coat, then wash your hands (you can dry them with a cloth). Repeat the above processes every time you visit the cleanroom, and train your employees to do the same. 

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