The Seven Deadly Sins of Cleanroom Wiping (and How to Avoid Them!)

1. Ignoring the Need to Wipe on a Regular Basis

To assure quality is maintained in all cleanroom and restricted areas, housekeeping maintenance must be performed daily. Improper cleaning leads to contamination and ultimately loss in end user product quality. Contamination can be broadly categorized into two categories, films and particulates, both of which can cause “killer defects” in miniature circuitry. Contamination in a cleanroom can lead to expensive downtime and increased production costs. Once a cleanroom is brought to standard it must be cleaned and maintained regularly to maintain those standards.

Solution: Each cleanroom will be different and local standards and requirements will vary, but for example, a class 100 cleanroom would require you wipe down your work area once per shift, with a full wipe down of walls, trim, and all other surfaces once weekly in addition to the other various maintenance performed hourly, daily, or weekly. Skipping these regular wipe downs allows particles to collect over time.

2. Using a Flat, Non-Folded Wiper

Failing to fold your wiper is not only wasteful, it risks contaminate being spread around the surface instead of being removed.

Solution: To maximize each wipers life span fold the wiper into quarter folds, giving multiple clean surfaces to use. Hold the unfolded sides in your hand and group the unfolded edges between our thumb and forefinger. Always discard used wipes according to procedure.

3. Using One Wiper for an Entire Area

Using a single wiper for an entire area is really only cleaning as far as the proper folded wipe method will go, so about eight swipes. After each side of a wiper is used, it is considered contaminated and by continuing to use that wipe it is no longer cleaning the surfaces but spreading contaminates farther.

Solution: Swipes should be done in one direction and only overlap 10% to 25%. Turn the wiper so that each new swipe is done with an unused portion of the wiper, once each fold is used the wiper can be refolded so the other side can be used, maximizing the lifespan. Each wiper should clean eight swipes with this folding method, use as many wipes as required for proper contamination removal. Once finished with each wipe dispose of according to site procedures and continue until entire surface has been wiped down.

4. Wiping From Dirty/Wet Areas to Clean/Dry Areas

As you can see cleanroom wiping is all about containing and removing contaminates without spreading them to other areas. Spills or other large contaminations should first be dealt with by isolation, using cleanroom approved sorbent materials to contain the mess, followed by a thorough cleaning. When cleaning a cleanroom space it is very important to transition from dirty to clean without re-contaminating clean areas.

Solution: Wipe up and dispose of the bulk of the contaminate, then following the procedures of using a wipe properly, clean from the clean/dry areas into the wet/dirty areas, never the other way around. This way you are drawing the contaminates in and removing them instead of cleaning outwards, spreading the containmates over a wide range of previously clean areas.

 5. Wiping in a Circular Motion

Wiping cleanroom surfaces in a circular motion, not surprisingly, spreads particulates and contaminants over clean areas. It won’t matter if you use an entire package of wipers, or how you fold them if a circular technique is used.

Solution: Start by pressing down firmly and swiping parallel in one motion across the surface. After each swipe, turn your wiper so the next swipe will be done with a clean side. Keeping track of which areas you have already cleaned and overlapping only about 10% is critical to ensuring that the surface is being completely cleaned and no streaks of particulate are left behind.

6. Using a Dry or Overly Wet Wiper Instead of a Damp One

The point of cleanroom wiping is trapping and removing contaminate and particulate, as we’ve learned. So using a perfectly dry wiper with no moisture will trap some contaminants but for the full benefit, your wiper should be damp.

On the opposite end of the spectrum using a soaking wet wiper will only create a larger mess and leave behind dirty residue over your entire surface requiring that the surface be cleaned again, wasting time and money.

Solution: The type of cleanroom wipers you purchase will depend on many factors, the cleanroom class, the size, company procedures, ect. It may be more cost efficient for a smaller, lower class cleanroom to use dry wipers with a separate cleanser whereas a large scale or highly stringent cleanroom would benefit from a pre-soaked wiper eliminating the need for a second product.

When using a dry wiper with separate cleaner apply the cleaner to the wiper once folded, taking care not to let the cleanser bottle and the wiper come in contact to minimize cross-contamination. Pre-soaked wipes eliminate the need for a second product, and they can be folded into quarters and used immediately.

7. Using a Wiper That is Not Appropriate for the Cleanroom

Cleanrooms come in many shapes and forms depending on the product being produced and industry, state, or government regulations. Cleanrooms are divided into classes, as you can see in the diagram below.


Each class of cleanroom will have their own specific set of rules and allowances. You can see the particle allowances in the chart above, which means those levels must be maintained to meet cleanroom class requirements. This particle allowance dictates the procedures and products that can be used in the cleanroom so making sure that you are using a wiper that falls in line with acceptable tolerances in crucial. Wipes are manufactured in many ways to accommodate various levels of cleanliness and specific regulations. Here are just a few material examples:

And all of these wipes have various styles and edge types such as:

  • Woven
  • Non Woven
  • Knit
  • Quilted Knit
  • Twill
  • Meltblown
  • Foam
  • Sealed Edges
  • Knife Cut Edges
  • Laser Cut Edges

Solution: You must be familiar with your cleanroom class and your company procedures as well as any government regulations or industry standards that dictate acceptable materials or particulate levels based on what is being manufactured so that you can make the proper selection. Most established cleanrooms will usually have a specific product approved for purchase. Production Automation can work with you to help you select the right product for your cleanroom. Visit our site at or simply call us at 888.903.0333 Monday through Friday or email us at [email protected] We also have a new Live Chat feature that you can use to connect with a sales rep at anytime during your shopping experience.

MicroCare Circuit Board Cleaning Station

The MicroCare Circuit Board Cleaning Station includes everything you need to economically clean circuit boards at the workbench. Featuring the TriggerGrip™ cleaning system with spray through brush it offers a simple and fast way to enhance flux removal and touch-up cleaning performance with an engineered process. Buying each of these items separately would cost about $78, but this kit saves you money as well as time, from now until July 31st these kits are only $39.95!


  • Engineered for a better cleaning Process:
    • Wet
    • Scrub
    • Rinse
    • Dry
  • Cleans in seconds
  • ESD Safe
  • Unique Spray Though Brush always stays clean
  • Reduces fluid use by 66%
  • Safer work environment
  • Can empties completely; no waste

Kit Contents

  • (1) TriggerGrip™, reusable for long service life
  • (1) High purity cleaning fluid
  • (1) Bench mounting kit
  • (100) High performance Lint-Free Dry Wipes
  • MicroCare catalog

Learn more about each product


The patented Trigger Grip™ system from MicroCare is the electronics industry’s most efficient tool for cleaning printed circuit boards at the benchtop. For more than a decade, the Trigger Grip system
has been delivering better, faster and safer cleaning, at a lower cost.




SuprClean Defluxer

SuprClean™ is a heavy-duty circuit cleaner and degreaser. This patented formulation offers superior results against the toughest contamination, while setting new standards for safety, stewardship and value.





Bench Mounting Kit

The Bench Mounting Kit holds the aerosol can and the Trigger Grip neatly at the workbench. It keeps them both from tipping, which extends the life of the Trigger Grip. Perhaps even more importantly, aerosols used with this system are guaranteed to empty completely, saving money and avoiding a source of hazardous waste.





High Performance Lint-Free Dry Wipes

Optimal size for bench use, these wipes are dry and lint-free, made from Polyester and Cellulose Hydroentangled (No binders) materials.

Find this kit on Production Automation’s website by clicking HERE! This special lasts from May 1st until July 31st.

Basics of Isolator Cleaning

Isolators are increasingly installed in pharmaceutical production laboratories due to the increased handling of hazardous drug ingredients as well as the need for smaller batches and more flexible production environments. Isolators can potentially lower the installation and maintenance costs compared to large-scale cleanroom environments. While manufacturing facilities have established SOPs for isolators, this article focuses on the importance of proper cleaning and wiping procedures.

Isolators and Decontamination

Decontamination is the reduction or removal of biological or chemical agents, including non-active particles to non-hazardous levels to products, processes, or the environment by means of physical or chemical procedures.

Specifically in pharmaceutical manufacturing environments, research laboratories, and hospital pharmacies, the effective decontamination of biological agents like bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa, prions, and spores is essential.

Isolators like fume hoods, bio-safety cabinets, and glove-boxes are used to create environments with low levels of environmental pollutants such as biological agents, aerosol particles, and dust. These separative devices have a controlled level of contamination, specified by the number of particles with a defined size per cubic meter, providing controlled environments that are specifically tailored to the needs of its operator. This classification of cleanrooms and isolators, however, is not taking into account specific requirements regarding biological contamination. In order to maintain the low levels of environmental pollutants, isolators have to be decontaminated on a regular basis.

Isolator Cleanliness

Isolator cleanliness levels are defined by different clssifications, shown in Table 1 and Table 2. These classifications are evaluating the environmental pollution by particles, however, not taking into account specific requirements regarding biological contamination. In order to maintain the low levels of environmental pollutants, isolators have to be decontaminated on a regular basis.

Quality supervisors in facilities using isolators have to determine the acceptable level of biological agents in their respective environment and decide on the method to achieve these levels. Several factors influence the choice of method and materials.

Potential Contaminates 

Isolators are used in a variety of industries working with different material and under different requirements. Potential contaminates in isolators can therefore range from biological contaminates (e.g. pharmaceutical industry, hospital pharmacies), radioneclides (e.g. pharmaceutical industry, research laboratories), to general particulate contaminates (e.g. semiconductor industry).

Chemical Agents: Inactivation

Spills of hazardous chemical agents in isolators or potential reaction products immobilized on isolator surfaces have to inactivated or diluted to non-hazardous levels. The chemicals and chemical processes used for inactivation depend on the contaminant.

Biological Agents: Disinfection and Sterilization

To reduce the level of biological agents in an environment, disinfectants/sanitizers  and sterilants can be used. Sanitizers and disinfectants are terms used in different industries for the same kind of product. Whereas the food and food-processing industry uses the term sanitizers, the pharmaceutical industry, laboratories, and hospitals are predominantly using the term disinfectant.

Disinfection describes a process that eliminates many of all pathogenic microorganisms on inanimate objects, except bacterial spores¹. On the other hand, Sterilization describes a process that destroys or eliminates all forms of microbial life and is carried out by physical or chemical methods². Depending on the biological agent and the material or media holding it, sterilization can be achieved through the application of heat, chemicals, irradiation, high pressure, or filtration. It is essential to understand the difference between both processes to assure that contamination level requirements of work environments are met. Whereas some commercial and technical literature us confusing readers by using both terms interchangeably, it should be noted that  Disinfection and  Sterilization describe two processes with very different requirements in outcome. It is not appropriate to talk about partial sterilization or even replace the word disinfection with sterilization.

The efficacy of sterilization depends on a number of factors like:

  • Prior physical cleaning (effective surface and biofilm reduction)
  • Presence of organic and inorganic load-level and type of microbial contaminants
  • Concentration of sterilant
  • Exposure time of sterliant
  • pH, temperature, and humidity of environment
  • Geometry of object and spaces
  • Physical properties of objects
Frequent application of sterilization processes is facing two major challenges; the potential build-up of resistance against the used sterilization agent as well as disadvantageous interactions with humans and surfaces that get in direct contact with these agents. The applied processes have to be well understood in order to avoid these detrimental effects.
The efficacy of different sterilization methods has been evaluated and reported by a number of publications. Tested microbial agents include bacteria, spores, and viruses³†‡. As discussed in this article, microbiological agents may show a significant difference in resistance to the discussed sterilization methods. Therefore previously mentioned factors (the efficacy of sterilization depends on a number of factors such as in list one as well as the specific resistance to microbiological agents) play a vital role in the selection of the appropriate aterilization method.
Cleaning of Isolators
Decontamination or leaning, the reduction or removal of biological or chemical agents, including non-active particles is a multi-step process that depends on the contaminant and the required cleanliness level.
In isolators with processes using chemical agents the successful inactivation of these agents precedes any removal attempt in order to avoid further contamination of the environment or reaction with the isolator surfaces and cleaning materials. After successfully inactivating hazardous chemicals, high absorbency wipes are used to physically remove the reaction products.
When choosing isolator cleaning tools and materials, it is recommended that operators introduce the least amount of particle and fiber generating materials into the isolator. Typically a cleanroom laundered 100% continuous filament polyester knit material with sealed edges is recommended for use to clean surfaces inside the isolator. Additionally isolator cleaning tools with replacement covers that have been tested for particle and fiber release are appropriate to extend the reach of the cleaning area as well as providing ergonomic benefits to the operator.
One can also use cleanroom wipes with specific surface treatments to allow the wiper to capture and retain particulate contamination, resulting in more efficient cleaning and reduced likelihood or re-contamination of critical surfaces.
The recommended steps to be performed when cleaning a contaminated surface do not change and are  the same for all kinds of contaminants.
  1. Always clean from the cleanest to the dirtiest surface
  2. Clean with overlapping strokes and change wiper surface with each stroke
  3. If using an isolator cleaning tool or mop, change out cover material with each surface side of the isolator
In the case of isolators with biological contaminants, like bacteria, spores, and viruses, regular sterilization might seem to be sufficient in killing the microbial agents. However, it is extremely important that prior to sterilization, a physical removal of these contaminates is done in order to avoid a subsequent buildup of biofilms that would increase the resistance to sterilization attempts in the future. Biofilm is composed of polysaccharides that  consist of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Hydrogen and oxygen are most likely to be found in most isolators with natural atmosphere, leaving killed microbial agents behind would provide the required carbon for bacteria to reproduce and form new biofilms.
Cleaning Process SOP
Developing a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for your isolators is a difficult task and depends on the very specific requirements of a facility’s processes and regulation in its industry.
As a rule of thumb, Table 3 can serve as a general guideline to develop your own SOP††.
Questions to ask yourself:
  • What contaminates am I concerned about?
  • Would they contaminate my processes (inside) or the environment (outside)?
  • Are these contaminants inert, chemically-, biologically-, or radio-active?
  • What contamination limits have to be considered?
The use of an isolator cleaning tool should also be considered to allow efficient cleaning†† of hard-to-reach areas and guarantee an equal pressure distribution of your cleaning material (wipes/pads) on the isolator surface. The applied pressure is a determining factor in the physical removal of contaminants from a surface.
Proper decontamination and cleaning of isolators is critical to the long term success of materials produced in these environments. Reducing the risk of cross contamination starts with a full understanding of the type of potential contaminants introduced before, during, and after the production process. Sterilization and spraying with disinfectants alone are not enough to remove residual particles that could result in the buildup of biofilms. Proper wiping and rinsing protocols are needed to ensure the total removal of contaminants and the cleanliness of the isolator.

Production Automation understands the needs of cleanrooms, pharmacies, and laboratories so we strive to bring our customers the highest quality,  the widest selection, and the technical support they need to identify and purchase the proper consumables needed.

PAC is proud to announce that we are now carrying Berkshire brand cleanroom wipes in a variety of styles and sizes. To take a look simply click this link! SHOP BERKSHIRE CLEANROOM WIPES NOW


  1. Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC), “Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities”, 2008
  2. McDonnell, G.; Russell, A.D.; “Antiseptics and Disinfectants: Activity, Action, and Resistance” Clinical Microbiological Reviews, Jan. 1999, p. 147-179
  3. Mehmi, M.; Marshall, L.J.; Lambert, P.A.; Smith, J.C.; “Evaluation of Disinfecting Procedures for Aseptic Transfer in Hospital Pharmacy Departments” PDA Journal of Pharmaceutical Science and Technology, Vol. 63, No. 2, p. 123-138
  4. † Block, S.S.; ‘Disinfection, Sterilization, and Preservation” Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger 1991
  5. ‡ Siegerman, H. “Wiping surfaces Clean” A2C2 Magazine, April 2003
  6. †† “Isolator Cleaning Guide” 01 Aug 2010 Berkshire Corporation
© Dr. Thomas H. Treutler, CTO Berkshire Corporation

TechSpray Renew: Eco-Friendly Cleaners That Work!

Introducing TechSpray Renew™ branded cleaners, innovative solutions that combine the best of current “green” technologies to make the most powerful green cleaners on the market.

TechSpray has applied over 30 years experience in solvent cleaning to formulate products that meet regulatory standards with major ecological advantages, but no performance trade-offs.

TechSpray Renew™ products are designed through close coordination with end-users, ensuring that first and foremost, the products have superior performance. Performance is TechSpray’s top priority, using the best “green” solutions as they become available.

All TechSpray Renew™ products are non-ozone depleting, have very low VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds), and no GWP (Global Warming Potential). All formulas are biodegradable with packaging that is easily recyclable and, when feasible, made from recycled materials.

TechSpray Renew™ Ecological Advantages:

  • Low Ecological Impact: TechSpray Renew™ products have low VOCs, a major component of smog, and have no global warming impact. This helps your facility to comply with local, state, and federal environmental restrictions.
  • Low Toxicity and Biodegradable: Healthier for both personnel and environment, cleaners break down quickly, reducing long-term waste in landfills. (Appropriate disposal depends on what is being removed).
  • Sustainable Materials: Instead of engineered solvents, TechSpray uses corn-based ethanol, seed oils, soy-based oils, citrus-based oils, and other natural sustainable ingredients.
  • Recycled/Recyclable Packaging: Most packaging is easily recyclable and, when feasible, made of recycled materials.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Compliant with CARB (California Air Review Board), European REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization & Restriction of Chemicals), and WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive). These products do not contain RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) restricted substances, SVHC (Substances of Very High Concern) listed substances, or halides.

ECO-SHOWER™ Cleaner & Degreaser

  1. Eco-Shower Wipes
  2. Eco-Shower Quart Bottle
  3. Eco-Shower Gallon Bottle
  4. Eco-Shower 54gal. Drum

Powerful degreaser in the tradition of TechSpray’s Blue Shower® cleaners. Innovative formula uses naturally-based ingredients like citrus and soy oils to soak in and quickly cut through oil, grease, and adhesives.

Use full strength for thick, heavy grease and sticky adhesives or dilute with water for general cleaning. Ideal for cleaning tools, parts, shop equipment, motors, and industrial work surfaces. Leaves a high-gloss finish, so its ideal for stainless steel.

Convenient pre-saturated wipes available in a pop-up dispenser. Wipe material is low linting with patented dual-texture that has scrubbing surface on one side, wiping surface on the other.

  • Clean heavy oil & grease, adhesives, and inks
  • Concentrated and dillutable
  • Non-flammable
  • Non-corrosive, moderate pH
  • Safe on most plastics and painted surfaces
  • Biodegradable
  • Low VOC, zero GWP
  • Non-ozone depleting

ECO-SHINE Glass and Surface Cleaner

  1. Eco-Shine Wipes
  2. Eco-Shine Quart Bottle
  3. Eco-Shine Gallon Bottle

Cleans glass, stainless steel, chrome, mirrors, tile, plastic, ceramic, and enamel and leaves a streak-free finish. Effectively removes fingerprints, light oils, and other soils. Made from 100% naturally-derived and sustainable ingredients.

Convenient pre-saturated wipes available in a pop-up dispenser. Wipe material is low linting and designed to polish as it cleans.

  • Streak-free cleaning
  • Removes fingerprints & light oils
  • non-flammable
  • non-ammoniated – safe on sensitive surfaces
  • Biodegradable
  • Low VOC, zero GWP
  • Non-ozone depleting

ECO-STENCIL Manual Stencil Cleaner

  1. Eco-Stencil Wipes
  2. Eco-Stencil Quart Bottle
  3. Eco-Stencil Gallon Bottle

Effectively removes all types of solder paste (e.g. water-based, RMA, no-clean, lead-free) and uncured adhesive from screens, misprinted boards, and equipment. Completely safe on stencils, squeegees, and equipment surfaces. Ideal replacement for IPA cleaners, which are often prohibited because of safety and environmental restrictions on VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) emissions or waste disposal issues.

One quart (with a trigger sprayer) and one gallon containers are ideal for surface and tool cleaning. Convenient pre-saturated wipes available in a pop-up dispenser. Wipe material is lint-free and resistant to tearing and shredding.

  • Quickly clean paste or uncured adhesive
  • Safe for stencils, tools, misprinted boards
  • Non-flammable
  • Biodegradable
  • Low VOC, zero GWP
  • Non-ozone depleting


  • Manual stencil tool, work surface, and squeegee cleaning
  • Automatic underside wipe stencil cleaning
  • Removes unsoldered eutectic (leaded) & lead-free solder pastes
  • Cleans off uncured adhesives
  • NOTE: Not for use in automatic stencil washers

ECO-OVEN Cleaner

  1. Eco-Oven Quart Bottle
  2. Eco-Oven Gallon Bottle

Cleans reflow ovens, wave soldering systems, and associated heat exchanger systems by removing all types of flux residues (e.g. water-based, RMA, no-clean, lead-free). Used for periodic preventative maintenance to keep equipment performing at peak levels. It is fast acting and more effective than IPA for baked-on flux residues.

One gallon container (1573-G) recommended for wave solder finger cleaning. Just pour into the designated reservoir of your wave soldering machine. Trigger pump on quart (1573-QT) eliminates the need for aerosol propellants, which can have a global warming impact.

  • Quickly clean flux residue from oven and wave fingers
  • Safe on warm ovens
  • Non-flammable
  • Biodegradable
  • Low VOC, zero GWP
  • Non-ozone depleting


  • For removal of baked-on flux residues from SMT oven and wave equipment
  • Maintenance cleaning for heat exchange systems (NOTE: important to rinse thoroughly from aluminum and copper)
  • Recommended for finger cleaning in all brands of wave solder equipment
  • Remove accumulated flux from wave solder pallets

Recycled Delicate Task Wipers

  1. 4.4″ x 8.3″ Task Wipes

Ideal for light cleaning tasks in the laboratory, repair and maintenance facilities, and more. Quickly and easily wipes up liquid and dust. Packaged in a portable dispenser that reduces lint and cross contamination.

  • Low linting
  • Eco-friendly replacement for Kimwipes (KC34256)
  • 100% recycled wipes and box
  • Biodegradable and sustainable

Visit Production Automation’s Environmentally Friendly section and view all GREEN products we offer!