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1 March 2021

How to Clean An Office Chair

With an office job, it is common to spend most of your day in a chair.

This is why it is so important to have a chair which you are comfortable sitting in, that’s clean and smells fresh.

The eventual spillage of food or drink will jeopardise this.

Dealing with spills and general cleaning will keep your chair looking better for longer.

However, office chairs come in multiple upholstery materials.

These can be mesh, fabric or leather.

All chair upholstery needs specific cleaning methods for you to show the best results.

Read more to learn the tools and techniques to effectively clean your office chair, whatever upholstery it is padded with.

General Cleaning Tips

Before getting into the specific cleaning methods for different upholstery here are some universal tips to keep in mind before you make your furniture spotless.

Clean spills as soon as possible.

Cleaning soiled seats after a stain has set makes it so much more difficult for you to remove.

This also helps retain the fabric’s colour.

Safety first is a must.

Make sure that you read through and follow the instructions when using cleaning products.

Don’t forget to open your windows and doors otherwise you’ll be in an enclosed space.

Test cleaning products before use.

Testing the solution in an inconspicuous part of the upholstery first.

By doing this you will be able to spot if it will do any damage to your chair before moving onto cleaning the rest of it.

Cleaning Fabric Office Chairs

Fabric Office Chair
Fabric upholstery chairs are one of the most common types of office chairs.

The material makes these chairs comfortable and affordable.

However because of the spongy material they trap dirt easily.

Stage 1 – Fabric Cleaning Preparation

The first stage is vacuuming.

This will be an effective way to remove deep-seated dust and crumbs.

Put the upholstery attachment on your vacuum hose to use over the chair’s seat, backrest and armrest.

Make this easier by gently brushing your seat beforehand.

Stage 2 – Fabric Cleaning Codes

The second stage is to read your chair’s care tag.

Each office chair should come with an upholstery label, usually on the underside of the seat.

The tag will have a letter on it letting you know just how to deal with it.

If your chair does not come with an upholstery tag, check the instruction manual for further cleaning direction.

  • ‘W’ code office chairs can be cleaned safely with water or water-based products. These tend to be durable. They are well equipped for handling multiple spills and spot-cleans. Distilled water is the top choice for mixing. Tap water contains minerals which will lead to water rings on your chair surface.
  • ‘S’ code office chairs should only be cleaned by solvents and products that are water-free. A dry cleaning solvent is the best way to go to avoid damage to your chair. Water-based damage includes leaving water rings and colour drain. When using dry solvents to clean this type of upholstery use a blow dryer. This avoids leaving a ring.
  • ‘W/S’, ‘S/W’, ‘WS’ or ‘SW’. A chair coded with one of these should be cleaned with a water-based or dry-cleaning product. However, this type is not often seen. Professional cleaning is recommended for this type of upholstery. If professional upholstery cleaners are outside of your budget then it is best to use a solvent-based cleaner. Although this material can be cleaned with water, a non-specialist will be at risk of overwetting the upholstery. Overwetting will cause water stains. Finally, move this type of chair to an area less-trafficked to minimise dirt buildup and lengthen its lifespan.
  • ‘X’ tags are rarely seen on chairs anymore. Soiled marks cannot be removed from this fabric with liquid or solvents. Vacuuming is your best bet to clean this. Be sure to get in touch with professional cleaners for the best outcome.

Yellow Vacuum Cleaner
Stage 3 – Fabric Cleaning Instructions

‘W’ Water-Based Products

  1. After vacuuming your fabric you should create a cleaning solution mixture.
  2. Mix a few drops of mild dishwashing liquid with water.
  3. You could also use a water-based cleaning product brought from a shop.
  4. Wet a clean cloth with the mixture and gently blot a stain with the cloth, again starting in an inconspicuous area first. Once you confirm it doesn’t change the colour of the upholstery continue cleaning the rest of the upholstery.
  5. Take care not to rub or smudge the marks as this can change the colour and texture the spots you clean.

‘S’ Water-Free Solvent

  1. Don’t soak the seat. Apply the dry-cleaning product to a cloth, until it is damp.
  2. Gently blot the stain with the solution. Work from the outside and work inwards. Doing this is a good way to avoid making rings on your office furniture.
  3. The dirt will move from the chair onto the cloth so make sure you keep turning it to a clean section.
  4. Wipe away any remaining solvent.

‘W/S’ Wet Cleaning and Solvent Cleaning

  1. This type of fabric upholstery can be cleaned using either method presented above.
  2. For oily stains, it is better to use solvents. Water-based products can best handle watery marks.
  3. For stains which you cannot remember the source of, use the water-based cleaning method first. If results are not quite where you want them to be try a solvent.

Cleaning Mesh Office Chairs

Girl Sat on Mesh Office Chair
A mesh chair’s ventilation makes it a perfect fit in a busy office space.

They are made for busy offices with the ventilation they have.

The material allows for air to flow and keep the person sitting in it cool.

However, the mesh can fray and have its texture ruined if not handled with proper care.

Mesh Chair Cleaning

Vacuuming a mesh chair is very important to the cleaning process.

Use your vacuum’s hose attachment and clean out as many crumbs that have fallen into the mesh as possible.

Stains can be removed from this material with a mixture of water and soap.

Warm distilled water with a few drops of mild dish soap should be mixed until suds form.

Dampen a cloth with the solution and use it to gently dab at stains.

Do not use anything abrasive on this type of chair, this will cause the material to rip and fray.

After cleaning give this chair time to dry off before using it again.

Cleaning Leather Office Chairs

Old Leather Office Chair
Leather office chairs add a sense of class and professionalism to a room.

Protecting your leather chair investment is possible.

Regular easy cleaning keeps it looking high-quality.

Leather Chair Maintenance

Loose surface dust and dirt can be dealt with with a cloth or vacuum.

Use a dry, clean cloth to wipe your chair.

A cloth that doesn’t leave behind fibres is best for a smoother cleaning process.

When using a vacuum make sure to keep it on low suction.

Use a soft bristle attachment to avoid scratching the leather when dusting.

Leather Chair Cleaning

A distilled water and mild dish soap mixture should be made to clean leather.

Tap water contains trace amounts of chlorine which will damage the leather over time.

Dampen a cloth in the solution before wiping the leather’s surface.

Once you have finished cleaning the leather with soap use a cloth that was dampened with only distilled water and wipe away all suds or soapy residue on the chair.

Dry off the chair with another cloth.

Leather Chair Conditioner

After cleaning leather, apply a conditioner. This is a good way to protect its natural oils.

Apply a small amount of leather conditioner onto a dry cloth and gently buff the leather.

The end result will be a healthier, shinier chair.

Take care your chair isn’t too shiny though, using too much conditioner will make it greasy. Use another dry cloth to absorb the access.


Scouring Pad & Soap
Following the right cleaning method for your office chairs will leave the seat and backrests looking brand new.

Just remember to wipe down the wheels and armrests too.

For the best results maintain a schedule for regular cleaning and deal with stains as soon as you notice them.

If you don’t have time for this or have too many chairs to clean then consider looking for a professional office cleaning service.

How to Clean An Office Chair
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How to Clean An Office Chair
Afters weeks of continual use office chairs can quickly become dirty. Read our blog post to learn how to clean an office chair effectively.
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