A guide to hygienic seating in your manufacturing environment

In this guide, we discuss what makes a seat hygienic and why it is worth investing in the right seating for your work environment to speed up cleaning processes.

What do we mean by hygienic seating?

Hygienic seating is designed with easy-clean materials and features to optimise cleanliness and reduce the risk of contamination or the spread of pathogens. Regular chairs can shed particles and fibres which can contaminate a cleanroom environment. Non-shedding chairs need to conform to BS EN ISO 14644-1 for cleanroom environments to minimise airborne particles. Particularly key for healthcare facilities, laboratories and food processing areas, hygienic seating offers a solution by utilising antimicrobial treatments and easy-clean features for additional protection between clean down procedures. These chairs and stools feature minimal seams and crevices as part of a hygienic design to minimise dirt traps and potential for bacterial growth.

Why is it important to use hygienic seating?

Staying audit ready every day is an ongoing challenge for hygiene managers. When building the perfect audit ready environment, it’s important to look into the smaller items in your workspace which may accumulate dirt and bacteria. Any seating provided must be non-shedding and able to withstand being thoroughly disinfected using harsh cleaning agents as part of a regular clean down process.

We offer a wide range of seating options in a variety of easy-clean fabrics including PU, vinyl and stainless steel, to suit the strict needs of hygienic environments. Here we discuss each in detail:

Types of hygienic seating

Polyurethane (PU) seating

A type of plastic made from thermostatic polymer, it’s a fully closed cell that is bonded to the foam creating one layer rather than a separate foam and upholstery material. PU material is very durable with a high resistance to wear and tear. With high chemical resistance, it can be cleaned with various chemical agents and disinfectants without causing deterioration making it perfect for more rigorous sanitisation processes used in laboratories, cleanrooms and food processing areas.

Vinyl seating

Non-porous, vinyl prevents liquids and pathogens from penetrating the surface while also being stain resistant. Similar to PU, this durable material is able to withstand frequent cleaning without degradation for a long-lasting, hygienic product. A significant difference is that vinyl is impermeable to liquids. This makes it an excellent choice for areas prone to moisture, such as clean rooms. These properties make vinyl seating a more comfortable choice without compromising on an easy-to-clean finish.

Anti-static (ESD) Vinyl seating

Specialised anti-static (ESD) vinyl chairs are designed to prevent the buildup and discharge of static electricity. The use of these chairs is particularly critical in locations where there are sensitive electronic components to prevent damage to the equipment. They also protect the user by reducing the likelihood of static shock. During the cleaning process, care should be taken to ensure that any cleaners used do not leave an insulating residue which could inhibit anti-static properties. It should also be noted that ESD chairs need to conform to BS EN 61340-5-1 for conductivity.

Stainless Steel seating

Stainless steel seating may not be the most comfortable option compared to Vinyl and PU alternatives, but it is the first choice from a sterilisation standpoint. Our 316-grade stainless steel V-Korr chair and stool can be sterilised after cleaning by using an autoclave system up to temperatures of 220°C. Autoclaves use the power of steam inside a pressure vessel to kill harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi and spores.

What makes our seating better for hygienic environments?

Our seating range is hard-wearing and able to withstand repeated cleaning processes and exposure to harsh chemicals, making them ideal for sterile environments such as laboratory, cleanroom and food processing environments.

Many PU and Vinyl materials can be treated with antimicrobial agents (see below) to restrict the growth of bacteria, mould and mildew. This addition to the material composition only enhances their hygienic properties for heightened cleanliness in areas following strict guidelines and regulations.

Methods of incorporating anti-microbial agents

During manufacturing – antimicrobial agents can be mixed with vinyl polymer during the manufacturing process. This ensures that the agent is evenly distributed throughout the material for long-lasting protection.

Surface coating – an antimicrobial coating can be applied to the surface of the chair to create a protective layer. This may need reapplication as the antimicrobial layer wears away.

Making sure your cleanroom seating complies with regulations

While the main standard for cleanrooms is ISO 14644, you might also encounter the older US Federal Standard 209E designation. Cleanroom seating grades are classifications used to denote the level of allowable airborne particles in a controlled environment. We offer both Grade 5 and Grade 7 seating to suit your hygienic needs with grade 5 chairs being suitable for cleanroom grades B, C and D whereas grade 7 chairs are suitable for grade C and D cleanrooms.

It's worth noting that Grade 7 seating can sometimes be referred to as "at rest" Grade 5. This means that it achieves Grade 5 cleanliness when not in operation, but during operation, the particle count increases slightly to the ISO 7 level needed for Grade C cleanrooms.

Grade 5 (ISO 5 / 209E Class 100)

This is a very clean environment with an extremely low concentration of particles.
At most, there can only be 100 particles per cubic meter of air that are 0.5 microns or larger.
Grade 5 cleanrooms require a high number of air changes per hour (around 240-360) to maintain this level of cleanliness. This means all the air in the room is completely replaced with fresh, filtered air multiple times every hour.

Grade 7 (ISO 7 / 209E Class 10,000)

Compared to Grade 5, this is a less strict classification but still a very clean environment.
It allows for a higher concentration of particles, with a maximum of 352,000 particles per cubic meter of air at 0.5 microns or larger.
Grade 7 cleanrooms require a moderate number of air changes per hour (around 30-60).

Why should you come to Teknomek for your hygienic seating solution?

Keeping hygiene the focal point of all our designs, we offer a wide range of seating to suit your needs in a variety of easy to clean materials. All our seating options are highly durable with the ability to withstand rigorous cleaning processes using abrasive cleaning agents and chemicals. Ergonomic and adjustable for staff comfort, they provide a hygienic solution without compromising on an effective cleaning routine.

Need advice about the right seating for your environment?

Please call +44(0)1603 788 833 to speak to one of our Teknomexperts.

Contact us today