Why It’s Important to Use Hypoallergenic Materials in Soft Seating for Guests With Allergies

May 25, 2023

In hospitality, you want to deliver the best guest experience possible. You may create an ideal environment, including investing in beautiful and luxurious seating, only to discover that some guests develop a rash from using it. Sometimes called ‘sofa dermatitis,’ the wrong materials in your hotel chairs and soft seating can sour a guest’s stay.

Even without a contact allergy, guests can suffer from allergic reactions to dust mites and specific materials used in hotel seating. More than one in four people have an allergy, so hypoallergenic hotel rooms are a growing trend.

The Symptoms of Sofa Dermatitis

Sofa dermatitis is a contact dermatitis caused by an allergic reaction to materials used in a couch and soft seating cushions. It usually requires contact with the allergen, but some guests may be more sensitive or allergic than others.

The symptoms guests with sofa dermatitis experience can range from mild itching to a severe rash accompanied by swelling. Depending on their allergy, the reaction may be immediate or take a few hours to appear.

Symptoms may include:

  1. Itch
  2. Redness
  3. Red Bumps
  4. Hives
  5. Scaly skin
  6. Swelling
  7. Discomfort
  8. Itchy, red, or watery eyes
  9. Sneezing or coughing

These symptoms may either appear on the back of the legs, showing up exactly where the guest was in contact with the allergen, or, in severe cases, all over.

Other Causes of Hotel Seating Allergies

The most frequent cause of severe sofa dermatitis is an anti-fungal mold retardant called DMF (Dimethyl Fumarate). It was heavily used to protect leather furniture during shipment and storage until the connection between DMF and sofa dermatitis became obvious. Since then, green alternatives, including Cyrene, have become more prevalent. DMF is banned in the EU but is still used in the US as an industrial solvent in manufacturing some synthetic fibers.

Another significant and more common cause of allergens is dust mites. Dust mites thrive in padded material. They prefer humid environments that are not too hot or too cold. They are so small that they are difficult to see even with a microscope, and the particles they release into the air are a common cause of allergies.

Any fabric that collects dust can contribute to an allergic reaction in sensitive people. In general, natural fibers are more hypoallergenic than synthetic fibers, but in the case of dust, dander, and other allergens, fibers that trap more will cause more allergies. For example, wool tends to attract and hold dust and trap dander. Synthetic fibers such as nylon, rayon, and polyester treated with flame retardants can also be culprits.

Some people are allergic to latex or memory foam, which are sometimes used in pillows and hotel lounge chairs

Synthetic materials may off-gas for a while after they are newly manufactured. While the materials themselves may not cause irritation, the off-gassing can trigger some allergies.

Recommended Materials to Protect Your Guests From Allergies

If you are committed to creating a few hypoallergenic rooms to offer guests concerned about allergies, the less fabric and material you include, the better. Wood hotel chairs create an easy-to-clean surface that will not accumulate dust mites or dust or trigger any fabric allergies.

For soft seating, vinyl or leather (not treated with DMF) are great upholstery choices for allergy sufferers. They keep out dust, are easy to clean, and are available in a selection of colors and textures.

Tightly knit natural fibers that resist moisture are an excellent choice if leather or vinyl doesn’t work for the hotel seating designs. In terms of synthetic fibers, microfibers, polyurethane, and polyester made without flame retardants effectively prevent the accumulation of dust. They can make hypoallergenic covers for hotel chairs and sofas.

There are a number of synthetic and natural padding materials that can be used to create soft hotel seating that is hypoallergenic, beautiful, and comfortable for your guests. The best choice for you will depend on your furniture designs, the goals you aim to achieve, and your budget.

Hypoallergenic Materials Deliver a Better Guest Experience

In hospitality design, it’s easy to think about what the guests will see, but there are other elements to design that have a profound impact on the guest experience. By considering hypoallergenic materials in your hotel seating designs, you create elegant, striking furniture that everyone can safely enjoy.

Guests may never realize the thought and care that went into guaranteeing their comfort, but that is part of what creates a truly luxurious experience. If you are considering adding hypoallergenic materials to your next renovation project, connect with us.