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Aged Care Upholstery and COVID-19: 5 Tips for Choosing Fabric to Keep Aged Care Furniture Clean

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

How do you choose the right aged care upholstery to help keep it clean?

It’s your job to refurbish the aged care facility you work at. The dining room chairs and sofas in the lounge room are looking particularly old and tired; they’ve certainly been scrubbed clean numerous times and even more so since COVID showed up.

You’re considering your aged care furniture choices and looking at the available aged care upholstery fabric options. You may be wondering…

“Will this upholstery fabric stand up to the required aged care cleaning, particularly in these pandemic days, and still look good?”

It’s an important decision because there are increased demands on aged care operators to maintain a hygienic environment for residents, staff and family. With this in mind, you want to support the vital job of the cleaning crew by providing aged care upholstery fabric that’s easy to clean. Making life easier for the cleaners has never been so important, with benefits of this flowing through to the whole aged care community. Aged care cleaners are now more appreciated than ever and happy cleaners mean a cleaner aged care work environment for staff and a cleaner living environment for residents. But, like a well-known writer once said, “Housekeeping is like being caught in a revolving door”… so let’s help to keep the cleaners happy!

But the question remains: what should you look for when choosing aged care upholstery fabric so that furniture looks good and is easy to clean? Nobody wants aged care residents to be sitting on stained, worn and pilling furniture that might cause cross contamination.

Here are 5 tips to help you choose the right aged care upholstery fabric…

Tip 1: When choosing aged care furniture for dining rooms, avoid upholstery fabrics that have a high pile.

interior designer with upholstery fabric

You may be wondering: What is a pile fabric? Within pile fabric, certain yarns stand up from the base fabric. In other words, they’re fabrics with a 3D texture, with visible fibers on the surface. Corduroy and velveteen are examples of pile fabrics.

High pile fabrics may be chosen for furniture upholstery because they provide warmth and texture. However, they are also a challenge for aged care cleaning, particularly with dining room chairs, as it can be very difficult to get down into the pile to remove contaminates instead of just wiping over the surface which is what can be done on a flat pile or vinyl upholstery.

Tip 2: Choose upholstery fabrics with a better pilling grade

upholstery fabric cleaning

Pilling is the formation of fuzzy balls on the surface of a fabric. Upholstery fabric pilling occurs when fabric fibers rub together, such as when aged care residents sit on chairs. This causes the fibres to break off and accumulate in small piles, making chairs look worn and difficult to clean.

Any fabric can potentially pill, but how do you find out whether a fabric is more likely to pill or not? There are machines that test the pilling grade of a fabric and the fabric is graded according to the level of pilling that has occurred. When choosing an upholstery fabric, ask about the pilling grade of the fabric.

Tip 3: Look for a waterproof fabric.

aged care residents sitting on sofa

As someone working in aged care, you know that upholstery fabrics must be waterproof, shielding against spills, liquids and stains to keep chairs clean and hygienic.

Furniture designers used to be restricted to using vinyl in aged care projects which, while functional, was not particularly attractive and this is important if you are trying to create a welcoming environment for aged care residents.

However, advances in waterproof fabric technology mean that furniture designers now have the creative freedom to strike the important balance between functionality and using colours, texture and patterns to create a warm, home like aged care environment.

Look for waterproof fabrics that have a full waterproof barrier applied to the back of the fabric and a water repellant finish applied to the face of the fabric. This kind of fabric will also offer exceptional protection from stains, odours, moisture and mildew.

Tip 4: Choose an antimicrobial fabric.

happy furniture cleaners in aged care facility

In the wake of a global pandemic, the demand for antimicrobial fabric has never been greater. But what does antimicrobial actually mean and how long does it last? Antimicrobial products kill or slow the spread of micro-organisms such as bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Adding antimicrobials to upholstery fabrics offers a layer of protection, prolonging the life of the textile and protecting the fabric surface from microbes. The antimicrobial finishes are mill applied, durable and provide long-term antimicrobial performance, often lasting the life of the furniture upholstery.

Tip 5: And finally… it’s not fabric but it is part of the furniture: choose furniture that has had antimicrobial lacquer coating applied to the timber.

carpenter making timber furniture

Stopping the spread of infection in aged care facilities has never been so important and in some furniture, the timber parts of a chair are major touch point areas where germs accumulate, increasing the risk of infection. Quality furniture manufacturers now protect all timber products by applying an antimicrobial lacquer which is a polyurethane coating containing an antimicrobial additive. This coating inhibits the growth of bacteria and reduces the level of cross contamination, adding another tool to the aged care cleaning arsenal.


While choosing the right upholstery fabric will assist the cleaning crew in their efforts to stop the spread of infection and keep your aged care facility clean, something else to watch out for is advancements in furniture design. Furniture designers who specialize in aged care furniture are constantly researching new ways to design furniture to make it easier to keep clean. An example of this is incorporating removable parts which, when removed, are easier to clean on their own.
Aged care facilities are facing upholstery cleaning challenges that they have never had to face before and it’s important that the upholstery fabric stands up well to its level of use. Choosing the right upholstery fabric from the get-go can save aged care facilities (and their cleaners!) a lot of heartache and time, not to mention going a long way to assisting the budgets of aged care facilities.

Are you looking for a Brisbane aged care furniture manufacturer who can deliver your refurbishment?

With over 20 years of experience in the aged care furniture manufacturing industry, we bring solutions to our client’s unique circumstances; it’s what we do best. 

Call us today on 07 3808 7922 or send us a message and we will share with you how you can strike the balance between function, aesthetics and budget.


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