Several years ago, we wrote about the importance of having commercial-grade, bleach-cleanable upholstery in one’s dental, optometrist, and chiropractic office. At that time we were mainly focused on the durability and cleanability of the upholstery as compared with that which comes on residential grade furniture, knowing so many offices furnish their waiting rooms with this type of furniture wanting a less institutional look than can often be found in commercial furniture lines. Now, however, having bleach cleanable upholstery is even more important than ever in healthcare. With the current state of the global pandemic, infection control is paramount in order to keep both patients and staff safe from COVID-19. While the mounting evidence suggests disease transmission through contact with surfaces is lower than originally thought, the risk is still there, especially if one touches a surface shortly after another person has sneezed or coughed whereby the viral particles have only recently landed. Having upholstery that can readily be wiped down with a 5:1 bleach mixer frequently throughout the workday will help reduce the level of transmission.
Luckily, as designers, there is a much wider range of attractive, bleach cleanable upholstery fabrics available today than just a few years ago. Gone are the days one has to sacrifice the beauty and comfort of one’s waiting room or operatory in order to have bleach cleanable upholstery. The look and feel of today’s fabrics lend themselves to helping create a warm and welcoming experience for one’s patients. No more ugly vinyl! In today’s high anxiety atmosphere, doing everything possible to help put patients at ease and feel more comfortable visiting one’s office is critical to success.