How to Clean and Disinfect and Oberon Arc Flash Suit

Cleaning vs. Disinfecting

In all situations where PPE, tools and equipment are used by workers, employers must ensure all surfaces that can be touched by workers have been cleaned and disinfected.

However, cleaning is not the same as disinfecting. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines cleaning vs. disinfecting as follows:

  • Cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. Cleaning does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
  • Disinfecting refers to using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.

The important distinction to be made here is that cleaning your PPE is not enough to kill germs and viruses. To protect your workers, you must also disinfect it between each use. When it comes to Arc Flash PPE this is a complicated process as we have both porous and non-porous surfaces. For example, a face shield is considered a non-porous surface and can be easily cleaned. The fabric portion of an Arc Flash Suit would be considered a porous surface and is much more difficult to disinfect.

How to Clean and Disinfect a Hood

The first step to cleaning and disinfecting an Oberon TCG™ hood is to disassemble your hood. Once done, if the shield has dirt or grit, flush it off with room temperature tap water.

The next step to disinfecting a TCG™ hood window is to take a soft cloth with isopropyl alcohol or use a Lysol® wipe and gently clean both sides of the shield. This process may leave streaks as the surface dries. Once dry, use a soft clean cloth and lightly wipe off any streaks or film left on the shield from impurities in the wipes.

*As an alternative method a 2% solution of Clorox® Bleach (Sodium Hypochlorite or NaOCL) and cool water can be used.   Apply the solution by gently spraying the face shield and then allowing it to evaporate.  Once dry, the shield can be rinsed off with cool tap water.

How to Clean and Disinfect an Arc Flash Suit

The fabric portion of a suit is very porous which creates a very challenging proposition when it comes to disinfection. One method currently available is to turn the suit inside out and spray with an approved disinfectant on the inside of the hood and suit. While this will not kill 100% of all bacteria and viruses, but it is one of the best defenses currently available. When spraying the inside of the suit and hood, be careful not to get any spray on the outside of of the suit. It is also very important to let the suit dry completely before putting it back into service.

Another method to disinfect the suit is to launder it according to the directions on the label. If higher temperatures are needed to kill bacteria and viruses the suits can be washed and dried at higher temperatures without diminishing their protective qualities. This may, however, cause additional shrinkage that could hamper the overall fit of the suit.

As a third method, consult your local commercial laundering facility and inquire what options are available that will clean and disinfect Arc Flash PPE according to ASTM F1449 Standards.

*Caution: When consulting your commercial laundering facility it is important to note that any deviation from the washing instructions has the potential to damage the protective properties of the suit. Please consult your local Oberon representative for further guidance on this topic.