How To Clean An Office Chair in 4 Easy Steps
Remove grime, smells, and bacteria with our how-to guide for cleaning your office chair. Learn how the pros clean an office chair in 4 steps.
Office chairs are one of the hardest working pieces of furniture out there. They’re used pretty much every day and can accumulate a whole range of dirt in the fabric and crevices, from dust and crumbs to mold, food stains, and body odors.
If you stop to think about it, your office chair is probably home to a lot of bacteria if you haven’t cleaned it for a while.
In this post, we share our top tips on how to clean an office chair so that it looks and smells like new again. Of course, if you’d prefer to leave your chair to a professional, you can always book a professional, affordable cleaner through Homeaglow.
Before you start
Most office chairs have care labels either under the seat, or instructions engraved onto an inconspicuous piece of the chair itself.
You may notice some letters similar to “S/W, X, S, or W” which can be decoded easily using Google. These let you know if your chair can be cleaned with things like water-based solvents or dry-cleaning solvents, depending on the letter combinations you find on your chair.
Always follow this care advice as your first course of action so you know if your chair is safe around soap, dry cleaning solutions, heat, or moisture.
Check if you have these items on hand before you start cleaning
- Vacuum cleaner or handheld vacuum
- Liquid dish soap
- White vinegar
- Baking soda
- Rubbing alcohol
- Large bowl
- Spray bottle
- Soft cloths (e.g. microfiber cloths or old rags)
- Commercial upholstery cleaner
Most types of chairs can be cleaned quickly and safely using a mild soap and water solution. You’ll need these as a minimum before you start cleaning your office chair.
How to deep clean an office chair
Step1. Vacuum first
Grab your hand vacuum, or normal vacuum cleaner with a nozzle attachment, and work your way around the chair from the top down, paying special attention to any crevices that might be hiding dust, lint, hair, crumbs, and dirt.
Step 2. Clean the wheels of your office chair
After vacuuming, dampen a cloth with soap and water, and rub away at the lodged dirt and grease on your wheels and undercarriage. Be sure to rinse your cloth frequently in soapy water. It can sometimes take a bit of scraping and tugging to remove built-up grime and hair clumps.
Step 3a. How to clean a fabric office chair
Fabric computer chairs are cheap and comfy, but they can also be difficult to clean as they instantly absorb spills and sweat. If you wash them, they can take a long time to dry out, and they aren’t pleasant to sit on when they’re wet.
If you own a steam cleaner, this is an ideal solution for quickly freshening up a fabric chair. You can also use an appropriate dry upholstery cleaner or wet/dry vacuum to get the job done.
In summer, or if you can dry your chair easily, take a bowl of warm water and add in a few squirts of liquid dish soap. Dip a cloth or sponge into the solution, and wring out the excess water.
Begin scrubbing the fabric, paying attention to any obvious marks and stains. Chair fabric is very durable, so you can safely get some vigorous cleaning done to remove stubborn dirt spots.
If your chair is particularly dirty, you can even get stuck in with a small brush (like an old toothbrush or nail brush) to work on tough stains.
Sponge your chair fabric down with a clean cloth to remove any soap residue, and leave to air dry in the sun. You can also park your chair next to a gentle heater, or give it a good blast with a hair dryer to help speed up the drying process.
Step 3b. How to clean an office chair that’s leather, plastic mesh, polyurethane, or vinyl
Office chairs with smooth surfaces like leather and mesh can also be cleaned safely with a simple soap and water solution. All you’ll need is a bowl of warm water with a small amount of liquid dish detergent added. Much like you'd use for cleaning other delicate surfaces like granite countertops or marble tabletops.
With a soft cloth or sponge, gently wipe down all the surfaces of your chair from top to bottom. You can also put the soapy mixture into a spray bottle and spray down the entire chair with this mixture if it’s easiest for you.
Wipe away all the soapy residue with a clean, damp cloth, and then use a dry cloth to polish the seat coverings, legs, wheels, and armrests.
Step 4. Spot clean stubborn stains
Soap and water can remove the bulk of dirt and dust from your office chair, but you might find you’re still left with some visible stains. In this case, you can spot-clean these patches with rubbing alcohol, or other similar alcohol-based cleaning solutions.
Remember to check your chair’s care label first, or try the cleaner out first on an inconspicuous bit of your chair to ensure it doesn’t discolor the fabric.
Dip a cloth into the rubbing alcohol and gently rub it onto the stained area until the stain lifts. If you can still see faint marks, you can follow up this treatment with a commercial dry-cleaning agent (again, check it’s safe to use on your specific chair).
Cleaning a smelly office chair
Your fabric office chair cushion can be a trap for body odors, dampness, and mildew. But even vinyl and leather chairs can end up smelling musty after some time, especially if they’re not cleaned regularly.
Here are a few things you can try to banish odors from your office chair:
- Baking soda - Sprinkle some baking soda liberally over your office chair. Leave for around 30 minutes, then vacuum or wipe the baking soda away. Baking soda is a gentle natural cleaner that also helps neutralize bacteria and smells.
- Commercial deodorizer - good hardware and homeware stores all carry upholstery fresheners. These can either be sprayed or sprinkled onto your chair. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and always check if the cleaner is safe to use on your particular type of chair.
- Steam cleaning - if you have a steam cleaner handy, this can remove stains and leave your chair smelling great as well.
If you’ve tried everything you can to freshen up your office chair, but it still smells funky, our best tip is to simply buy a new chair.
Old chairs, or chairs that have been in storage for a long time, can absorb dampness, mold, and odors that are impossible to remove. At this point, it’s best for your health to opt for a fresh, clean chair to work in. And it will make your whole office smell better too.
Tips to keep your office chair cleaner for longer
Once you’ve deep cleaned your office chair, it’s important that you clean it regularly to improve its lifespan.
- Vacuum and dust your computer chair seat and cushion weekly
- Clean any spills or stains immediately so they don’t have a chance to sink into the fabric
- Don’t be tempted to snack at your desk
- Give your chair a thorough cleaning and deodorizing session every couple of months to ensure it stays fresh and hygienic
Ready to get your office chair looking great again?
Cleaning an office chair isn’t difficult, and it might even make you more excited about sitting at your desk.
If you’d like any help keeping your office chair or home office clean, Homeaglow is available to assist with a big choice of cleaners in your area. Find and book your perfect cleaner online today.
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