Proper Cleanroom Attire
Correct cleanroom attire for your application is vital, but not effective if not donned and doffed correctly. Specific gowning procedures within your overall cleanroom SOPs often differ between critical environments, the basic steps apply to all.
Proper donning and doffing of cleanroom garments prevents contamination of manufactured products and the worker. But careless, incorrect garbing and de-garbing can result in costly issues. Cleanroom workers should receive periodic training on proper gowning and de-gowning to ensure the right methods stay top of mind and any “old habits” are corrected.
The donning and doffing procedures below are general guidance on proper top-bottom sequencing and execution based on recommendations from IEST-RP-CC027.2 and ISO 14644 Annex B.
Cleanroom workers should be fastidious about their personal hygiene:
- regular showering or bathing
- trimming fingernails short and keeping cuticles clean and trimmed
- using only non-fragranced products such as soap and anti-perspirant
- refraining from using lotions or spray product for the body or hair.
Cleanroom staff members should report any health problems or skin issues to the facility manager for a determination about their qualifications to work in the critical areas while experiencing health issues.
Personal outer garments or “street clothes” and any belongings such as briefcase, purse, or electronics should be secured in a locker prior to entering the cleanroom.
Any SOP addressing undergarments should be followed as anything worn under the cleanroom attire can have an impact on particle contamination inside the facility. This may mean using cleanroom undergarments or following recommendations about type and cleanliness of personal undergarments.
After washing, drying, and disinfecting hands, a bouffant cap and/or beard cover should be donned.
Then dedicated footwear, if applicable, should be donned.
Then wash, dry, and sanitize hands. You are now ready to enter the anteroom or changing room.
As you enter the changing room of the ISO Class 5 environment, walk across a tacky mat.
Prepare to don sterile apparel:
- Don the first cleanroom shoe cover, then raise the leg over the bench placing the covered foot on the clean side. Do the same with the second shoe cover.
- Don cleanroom gloves. The type of glove and how many pairs are worn depends on individual SOPs based on cleanroom applications and protocols.
- Wash newly gloved, allow to dry, then disinfect.
Donning Sterile Apparel
Inspect sterile cleanroom garments for damage to the packaging and check the sterilization indicator. Discard if damaged. Notify management if the sterilzation indicator presents contamination.
Disinfect the garment packaging before opening it per the manufacturer’s instructions.
As you don your cleanroom garb, be aware of each step and its importance is vital to maintaining sterility through the donning process. This is why training and periodic re-training are important.
Disinfect the bench and allow to dry before sitting. Don protective shoe covers then proceed using a top-to-bottom procedure for donning sterile garments for an ISO Class 5 working environment. The order for donning cleanroom garments:
- Face Mask – Depending on the style of your hood, you may require additional mouth covering. If so, remove the mask from its packaging taking care to avoid touching the outside. Snugly secure its ties or loops so that it seals to the contours of your face.
- Hood – Don the hood over the bouffant cap by holding the hood from the inside so that nothing is pulled out of place. Ensure the head is completely and snugly under the hood.
- Sterile Coverall – Open the sterilized package avoiding touching the outside of the coverall. Grasp the coverall on the inside of the waist. Insert your feet and pull the coverall up. Then put arms into the coverall. Fully tuck the hood into the coverall. Zip the coverall completely and secure the stud at the neck.
- Boot Covers – If a crossover bench is used, sterilize the bench, allow to dry, then sit to place the first boot cover. Similar to donning shoe covers, once the first boot cover is placed, swing your leg over to the clean side then don the second boot cover placing the covered foot on the clean side.
- Cleanroom Goggles – Bend head forward and with minimal touching of the rims, place the goggles over your eyes. Do not touch the lenses. Secure the goggles to the head ensuring a snug fit to the face.
- Gloves – Wash, dry, and disinfect the first glove layer then open the next sterile gloves package placing them on the disinfected bench. Hold each glove at the cuffs to don pulling them over the fabric coverall cuff.
Check Your Cleanroom Apparel System
Observe yourself in a full-length mirror to inspect the complete gowning. Check that all zippers, studs, and ties are completely secured and no exposed skin or hair can be seen.
Before entering the critical area, remove any residual contamination from the cleanroom boots’ soles by taking three steps across a cleanroom tacky mat.
Top Takeaways for Cleanroom Apparel Donning
- Personal “street” clothes and belongings stored securely in a locker
- Wash, dry, and disinfect hands frequently during the donning process
- Use techniques to avoid touching the outside of cleanroom garments
Here is a printable pictorial guideline for cleanroom apparel donning.
Doffing Cleanroom Apparel
Removing cleanroom apparel goes in reverse order, but especially if re-donning the same apparel later, caution should be taken.
- Enter the gowning area, sit on the bench, and swivel legs over to the entry area.
- Remove boots.
- Grasp cuffs at waist to remove coverall.
- If not re-donning, place in waste receptacle if disposable, and launder receptacle if re-usable.
- If re-donning, hang the coverall in designated controlled environment snapping both boots to the back of the legs.
- Remove goggles and snap to front of coverall or hang on front of hanger.
- Remove hood and snap to the sleeve or neck.
- Exit the entry area and remove bouffant, shoe covers, and gloves disposing of properly.
Reusable Cleanroom Apparel
The convenience of disposable cleanroom apparel along with improved contamination control result in most of our client using disposable cleanroom garments. But if you do use re-usable garments, follow these precautions:
Contract a reputable cleanroom garment processor to launder and repair garments. This company must understand your environment’s contamination and quality control specifications and what your garments are exposed to (provide your MSDS). This helps the cleanroom garment laundry make the right decisions regarding when to replace apparel.
To extend the contamination control life of re-usable cleanroom garments:
- Prevent contaminating garments with particulate, soil, fiber, and chemicals
- Avoid punctures, tears, and excessive wear, reporting to management anytime you notice them
- Store doffed garments in a controlled environment
- Follow donning and doffing procedures in your SOP
- Inspect inventory and regularly change out apparel to prevent degradation that can result in excessive contamination
Soiled garment containers should be lined and have covers or polyester bags may be used to contain garments ready for laundering or disposal. Soiled garments can be mixed in containers, but different types of apparel such as boots, frocks, coveralls, or hoods may not be commingled.
Properly separating re-usable garments and preparing them for laundry pickup prevents accidental contamination.
Consult with Our Cleanroom Experts for any Donning Questions
Talk with our cleanroom consultants about your protocols and cleanroom apparel donning questions. We can help you find the best apparel for your applications. Ask for free samples of any of our cleanroom supplies and trust that you are getting the lowest cleanroom supplies pricing in the industry.
Important note: ensure you follow your cleanroom’s procedures. The information provided above is for education and can be used to discuss potential changes to cleanroom supplies or procedures, but should not be used as a replacement for any procedure in your environment unless officially adopted.