Application Note

Cleaning Carbomers

Source: STERIS Corporation

Carbomers are cross-linked high molecular weight polymers of acrylic acid, sold under the name Carbopol® polymers. Due to their unique characteristics, they are used in the manufacture of pharmaceutical products, cosmetics and personal care products, including oral dosage forms, rectal, topical and ophthalmic products, creams, lotions, shampoos, sunscreens, body washes and gels. Carbomers are used extensively because of their versatility and GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status. However, the same characteristics of carbomers that make them indispensable in the product formulation make them difficult to remove from equipment surfaces.

This Technical Tip provides guidance for cleaning different grades of carbomers using formulated cleaners by agitated immersion, spray wash, cascading flow and manual cleaning. A 5% w/v slurry of each carbomer product was prepared with deionized (DI) water, spiked on coupons and then air dried for 16 hours. Coupons used for the study were 304 stainless steel with 2B surface finish. The carbomers evaluated were Carbopol 71G NF, Carbopol 971P NF, Carbopol 974P NF, Carbopol 980 NF, Carbopol 934 and Carbopol 940.