Great Ways to Learn about Critical Cleaning, Part 1

Manufacturers ask how they can become a critical cleaning expert. I am not aware of college major called “Cleaning Lady.” Therefore, in this two-part feature, I’ll show you how to find good resources. I will explain the benefits and limitations of those resources and show you how to use them effectively. The goal is to develop your best cleaning strategy for productive manufacturing. In Part 1, I will go over books, articles and blogs, commercial brochures and technical data sheets, standards, podcasts, conferences, and professional associations.

Where can you find a terrific book about critical cleaning? Well, many of you tell us that you find that our “Handbook for Critical Cleaning” (Kanegsberg & Kanegsberg, CRC Press, 2nd edition) explains the basics of cleaning and gives you great ideas for developing your manufacturing processes. We’ve included chapters from over 70 contributors with differing ideas and approaches to cleaning. Melding these disparate, sometimes conflicting ideas in the two-volume set was a joy and a challenge.

You can find other books about cleaning, contamination control, and controlled environments. While the changing technology of manufacturing, process fluids, and regulations impact the specifics of cleaning, older books can also be worth a look-see.

Articles & blogs
This includes articles in trade magazines (in print and on-line), postings on social media, blogs, and newsletters – like “Clean Source: The Official Journal of the Cleaning Lady and the Rocket Scientist.” On-line articles sometimes include both photos and video-clip demonstrations.

To make the most of these articles, understand the motivations for such articles and blogs. For example, take a case study of a successful process conversion using a particular solvent degreaser or aqueous parts washer. Even if the study is written by a parts manufacturer, it may have been sponsored, or fostered, or encouraged by providers of cleaning process equipment or of cleaning agents. This doesn’t mean the information is bad – it can be very helpful – just understand the motivation. Ed and I put together this newsletter in part to educate. Another motivation is that the newsletter will remind you that, should you run into cleaning issues, the bright and shining consultants at BFK Solutions are standing by to make your cleaning and manufacturing processes absolutely fabulous!

Commercial Brochures; Technical Data Sheets
Brochures contain fanciful, creative claims and gorgeous illustrations. As you educate yourself about critical product cleaning, you will be able to use such literature to determine how the product works and what the limitations might be. The Technical Data Sheet (TDS) may contain hard data; it may also contain marketing claims. For cleaning agents, obtain not only the TDS but also the Safety Data Sheet (SDS, MSDS). For example, on the TDS, there may be an assertion that a cleaning agent may effectively remove oils, metalworking fluid, and a variety of adherent residue.  The TDS may show solubility parameters. The SDS is likely to provide additional information. For example, a cleaning agent with a boiling point of over 300 Deg F might have rinsing or drying issues. One with a boiling point of, say 40 Deg F would evaporate rapidly, but might not be as useful if heat is needed to dissolve the soil in question. The SDS is more likely to disclose more about the chemicals in a mixture, including toxicity data.

Standards, specifications and guidance documents
Don’t you just love reading standards? I don’t either. Use them in your quest to become a cleaning expert. Some standards have the advantage of being the work product of a group of experts.  Standards that explain the rationale for cleaning requirements and cleanliness standards can be teaching tools.

For example, ASTM F3127-16, “Guide for Validating Cleaning Processes Used During the Manufacture of Medical Devices,” contains flow charts and decision trees to assist in process selection.  An analogous approach could be used for other high-value applications.

Podcasts, Video Clips
On-line resources are an efficient way to visually, dynamically illustrate how cleaning works and to demonstrate cleaning techniques. It’s important to understand the background and motivation of the authors of these resources. Look at information from different sources, because opinions and techniques can differ sharply.

Conferences and Trade Shows
Technical programs and trade fairs can provide information about cleaning agents and cleaning equipment. Often, the presenters are themselves formulators or equipment designers. They can provide important details of their products; and, as with articles, the information reflects their experience and the environment they work in. Most of our talks begin with the proviso to question everything, including BFK Solutions. When you go to conferences, ask lots of questions. Be a little skeptical.

Professional Associations
Trade groups provide networking and/or educational opportunities. Participation costs range from free ( or nearly free –  the cost of your time and a meal) to major financial commitments. We’re active in a number of trade groups because in-person interchange provides useful information about cleaning. Some associations are concerned about regulatory issues – don’t ignore those groups. Regulations impact how much hassle is involved in setting up and maintaining cleaning processes.

Other groups are geared more to technical education. For example, in Southern California, Ed and I are active in the Surface Finishers Educational Association (SFEA).  I’m the Program Chairman of SFEA. Which means I’m involved in lining up speakers. It’s work, and it’s fun, and I’m always learning new things about cleaning and cleanliness validation. To be a speaker or suggest a program, give me a call.

But wait, there’s more
I learn most effectively by using a variety of approaches and resources. I’ll provide more ideas in Part 2.

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