Whether you’re furnishing a new healthcare facility or replacing old furniture in a hospital or private practice, knowing your textiles is crucial to the well-being of staff and patients alike. To help make your purchasing experience as easy as possible, we’re breaking down the pros and cons of commonly used seating textiles. This list is ranked from worst to best in terms of appropriateness for a healthcare setting.


Fabric is a woven textile that is not considered appropriate for healthcare settings. The major benefit of fabric is aesthetic: it comes in many color and pattern options. 

Although the appearance of fabric creates a welcoming, homey aesthetic that most medical facilities seek, the good far outweighs the bad in the case of this material. Because fabric is woven, it is porous—fluids can seep into the chair easily and become nearly impossible to remove. This creates an infection control nightmare as fabric will likely harbor bacteria and bedbugs. 

In addition to the health hazards associated with this textile, fabric is not durable enough to withstand regular use in a busy healthcare facility.


  • Unlimited color and pattern choices

  • Welcoming, homelike aesthetic


  • Porous

  • Not very cleanable or durable

  • Harbors bedbugs and bacteria

Crypton Fabric

Crypton fabric is specially manufactured with a fluid-resistant backing that makes it more like vinyl than the fabrics it so closely resembles. This textile has the same large range of color and pattern options as fabrics, but it’s much more acceptable for a healthcare setting as fluids cannot seep into the chair as they can with fabric. However, this material is still semipermeable and can hold unwanted odors. 

Crypton requires specific cleaners for regular maintenance, as it can degrade quickly if cleaned improperly, so staff must be well-trained on the correct cleaner to use on this material. This textile can also be expensive and is not the most durable option. Due to this, Crypton is often used on the backs of chairs in low-abuse settings such as private practices and senior living centers.



  • Same range of color and pattern options as fabric

  • Fluid-resistant backing is healthier than fabric options

  • Good choice for chair backrests that receive less wear


  • Semipermeable

  • Requires special cleaners and can degrade quickly if cleaned improperly

  • Expensive

  • Can hold odors

PVC-Free Vinyl

PVC-free vinyl is an impermeable and eco-friendly textile ideal for inpatient and acute care facilities. Because it’s PVC-free, this material emits no off-gas, making it a great choice where indoor air quality is a concern. In addition, this textile has a soft, comfortable feel. Unfortunately, the color palette is limited. Though relatively easy to clean, PVC-free vinyl is fragile and can degrade quickly and pucker if not maintained correctly.


  • Impermeable

  • Emits no off-gas and is great for indoor air quality

  • Soft, comfortable feel


  • Fragile and will degrade quickly if not properly cared for

  • Can pucker

  • Limited aesthetically—only solid colors are available


Like PVC-free vinyl, regular vinyl is commonly used in inpatient and acute care facilities, including typical hospital settings. Vinyl is also impermeable and Greenguard Certified for better indoor air quality, but this material is much more durable and easy to maintain. 

You should note that over-bleaching can lead to the breakdown of plasticizers (the additive used to make vinyl soft and pliable), and the stripping of plasticizers can lead to cracking and ripping that The Joint Commission will quickly write up as a violation. On the plus side, vinyl is available in a much wider range of colors and patterns than PVC-free vinyl. Bedbugs and bacteria contamination are less of a concern with this textile, though these may still thrive in the seams of the material.


  • Impermeable

  • Greenguard Certified for better indoor air quality

  • Many patterns and colors available

  • Durable with good light resistance

  • Easy to clean (though this varies depending on manufacturer)


  • Can degrade if over-bleached

  • Seams can harbor bedbugs and bacteria


Ideal for emergency departments, IC+ is the top-of-the-line choice for high-traffic hospitals that require the very best in durability and cleanliness. Healthcentric is the only company that manufactures IC+. The treatment is applied via a spraying technique rather than sewn. As a result, IC+ has no seams for bacteria and bedbugs to thrive in, making it the best choice to prevent the spread of infection. 

This material is also 10 times stronger than vinyl, completely impermeable, does not degrade, and has a very high abuse rate, making it ideal for busy emergency rooms that see patients with a vast range of ailments. Not only will this material not rip or crack, but it’s also safe to clean even with harsh bleaches. 

IC+ is truly the best option available for healthcare facilities, but it is worth noting that color options are limited, and this material is not the most comfortable for patients due to its durable build.


  • 10 times stronger than vinyl

  • Does not degrade

  • Seamless design does not harbor bedbugs or bacteria

  • Highest abuse rate

  • Easy to clean


  • Not the most comfortable

  • Very limited color palette


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