Chemicals are often needed to maintain a sterile, clean environment in a laboratory, hospital, or cleanroom facility. However, there isn’t a specific standard as to what to use — the recommendations vary according to the situation at hand and what kind of environment is needed.
A (perhaps surprising) thing to avoid in many settings, however, is ultrapure water.
“[People] tend to think of water in the sense of ‘the purer, the better’, and there are times where pure is not necessarily better,” says Ed Kanegsberg of BFK Solutions in Pacific Palisades, Calif. “When you get to that type of purity, it is trying to be both a strong acid and a strong base at the same time, and it just loves to extract ions wherever it can find them, which is why it can be very aggressive. Especially in something like optics.”
“It wants to pick up ions. So where is it going to get those ions?” Barbara Kanegsberg adds. “In part from the thing that you’re trying to wash or rinse, whatever you’re trying to do. That doesn’t mean that we should be using impure water, but it’s a matter of being mindful of what the chemical is. And water in itself, depending on the situation, can be a rather harsh chemical in terms of the quality of the surface.”
This cleanroom tip was taken from “Choosing Your Cleaning Chemicals,” which appeared in the May/June 2016 issue of Controlled Environments.