The most common liquid used for cleaning surfaces in the cleanroom is IPA, primarily because of its purity and consistency.
Cleanroom operators sometimes ask if denatured alcohol can replace IPA in the cleanroom. The simple answer is No. Here’s why.
Denatured alcohol is used for non-critical applications such as fuel for stoves, shellac thinner, and cleaning of metal or wooden parts. Denatured alcohol is made by deliberately contaminating ethyl alcohol with agents that make it non-potable. These include solvents such as methyl alcohol, acetone, methyl ethyl ketone and methyl isobutyl ketone, pyridine and petroleum oil, among others. These adulterants generally represent 10% of the total solvent volume, enough to make the mixture poisonous. Some of them are foul smelling and some add a color to the ethyl alcohol. Denatured alcohols are typically not sold with a certificate of analysis or a guarantee of purity. The manufacturer is not required to divulge the nature, quality, or consistency of the ethyl alcohol nor the adulterating agents. Furthermore, with denatured alcohol, there is the distinct possibility that residues upon evaporation would be unacceptably high – such residues originating primarily from the adulterants. Denatured alcohols have not been made to the purity levels needed in the cleanroom.
By way of contrast, IPA sold for cleanroom use is unadulterated and manufactured to strict quality standards with certificates of analysis and guaranteed levels of purity. This makes it the #1 choice for cleanroom cleaning.
Why is Isopropyl Alcohol the Choice for Cleanroom Cleaning? Read additional information about the differences between Methyl Alcohol, Ethyl Alcohol, and Butyl Alcohol compared to ISP.