A Guide to Cleaning Your Office Chair

How do you clean your office chair? And, what dictates the frequency of this cleaning routine? One thing is certain, mastering how to clean an office chair from the day you unpack it from the store will prescribe how long it will last. Office chair cleaning is part of the overall maintenance of your office. It’s important to keep the chair sparkling clean, be proactive in spotting signs of wear and tear, and take the needed steps to repair or replace it in time. Do you know how to clean the wheels of an office chair? What about getting rid of a nasty smell, handling the different fabrics, or even what supplies will give you the best cleaning results? If you can relate to all these concerns, read on.

Here is a straightforward cleaning routine that you can customize to suit any office chair. The main points include; what cleaning products to use, mastering the special care for each chair fabric, and getting rid of dirt on the seat or mesh back. And, once you master this routine, you can then incorporate your smart cleaning laundry gadgets into it to suit your lifestyle.

A Typical Cleaning Routine for Your Office Chair

The Preparation

The best routine on how to clean an upholstered office chair starts with removing visible dirt particles. Does your office chair have assembled parts? Start by disassembling them to release any hidden dirt, pet hairs, and debris. Once you have this preliminary step out of the way, you can now follow the following typical steps to clean office chairs at home.

Items You’ll Need

Vacuum with Brush Attachment

When exploring how to deep clean an office chair, opt for a vacuum with a brush attachment. It will help you get most dirt off your chair without leaving you worn out. A reliable vacuum cleaner should be a lightweight hungry beast, consisting of versatile brushes that pick dirt at the edges and deep into the cushioning. More so, its ergonomic design should be convenient and safe, using the least energy to hold it for longer. 

When choosing a vacuum, shop for brands using a fool-proof filtration system, and rely on innovative technologies like swivel steering or a large-capacity dust cup. Besides, if you have kids or pets around, opt for a vacuum with an anti-allergen seal system for those micro dust particles. Still, a regular brush and dustpan can do the trick.

Hot Water with Dishwashing Liquid

Once you remove the visible dirt, you need to spot clean the office chair to remove stains. For this, you may use hot or lukewarm water, depending on the recommendations by the manufacturer. Plus, use mild detergents like dishwashing liquid to lift the stains without tampering with the chair’s lustre. A few drops of your favourite dishwashing liquid into hot or lukewarm water is sufficient.

Cloth or Sponge or Spray Bottle

Do you notice any smudge or grime on the chair after spot cleaning it? If so, use a damp soft cloth or sponge to blot the stain out. Indeed, never scrub the chair as you may push the stain-causing particles deeper instead of off the fabric.

Dish Towel

A dish towel comes in handy when cleaning mesh upholstery. Here, you dip the dish towel in the soapy solution before wringing it out. Next, you gently wipe the mesh part of the chair to absorb all dirt on it. Still, confirm with your user manual regarding the delicate nature of the mesh fabric. Some manufacturers advise using clean water instead of the soapy solution.

Knife or Scissors and Tweezers

Knives, scissors, and tweezers are must-have tools if your office chair has assembled joints. Use these readily available tools to release each part and wipe off dirt hidden within the joints.

Duster or Compressed Can of Air

We use a duster or a compressed can of air to apply a pressurized blast against dirt and dust on the office chair. It is a convenient and portable option, substituting a vacuum cleaner.

Vinegar or Laundry Detergent

Dishwashing soap in hot or lukewarm water removes superficial stains from most chair fabrics. However, this mild solution may not remove old and stubborn stains such as protein stains, red wine or coffee spills, cat urine, blood, and grease. For this, get vinegar or laundry detergents with powerful active ingredients. As a precaution, test the vinegar or detergent at a discreet part where no one can see it. Does it bleach or leave a permanent stain on the chair fabric? If so, look for another stain removal solution for the stubborn stains. Otherwise, you may apply the vinegar or detergent to the rest of the chair fabric. 

Types of Fabric

Office chairs retail in varying fabrics and finishes including, leather, upholstered, Chenille, polyester, velvet, acrylic, and wood. These fabrics use versatile technologies to make the chair stain-resistant, bleach-solution cleanable, abrasion-resistant, or flame retardant.

How to Clean Each Type of Fabric

Let’s look at how to clean a fabric office chair comprising of the following popular fabrics:


Upholstered chairs use fabrics that are not detachable from the frame of the chair. Hence, it becomes impossible to wash the cloth in a washing machine. Instead, use a steam cleaner to get rid of any grime or stains. In the absence of a steam cleaner, vacuum the upholstery, spot clean it with a damp cloth, and apply vinegar or baking soda to remove those tougher stains. Next, use a soft-bristled brush and warm soapy water to scrub the upholstery. Wipe the cleaning solution and then air dry it until it is dry.


Unlike upholstered office chairs, their leather counterparts are much easier to clean. Leather has a natural lustre acting as a protective barrier against dirt and dust. Concentrate on the visible stains and debris. Start by vacuuming the chair. Then, spot-clean the leather using a mild soap solution. Also, condition the leather fabric to retain its texture and lustre. Lastly, air-dry the chair.


Use warm soapy water to clean plastic office chairs or parts. Here, opt for mild detergents that are gentle on the material. Use a vinegar solution to remove tough stains on the plastic office chair. If the entire chair is of plastic components, wipe it with a dry, soft cloth before sitting on it.


Office chairs consisting of wooden components react like leather office chairs when exposed to cleaning products. That is, wood tends to absorb the cleaning solutions and may begin to rot. Hence, use a damp cloth in a mild soapy solution to wipe away all dirt, dust, and debris. Next, condition the wood to retain its lustre and texture.

How to Clean Mesh on Back Of Chair or Seat of Chair

When cleaning the mesh on the back of the chair or seat of the chair, you want to be cautious not to damage the delicate fabric. Yet, your cleaning routine should leave the entire chair sparkling clean. In turn, we suggest the typical cleaning routine for office chairs as follows:

The Steps

1. Vacuum / Remove Loose Debris

Mesh office chairs have lots of spaces that can trap crumbs and dirt particles. As usual, start by vacuuming your office chair to remove this visible debris, hairs, and dust. We suggest using a handheld vacuum cleaner with a hose attachment to pay extra attention to the fabric.

2. Clean Solid Surfaces

Wipe all the solid surfaces on your mesh office chair to remove any particles not captured by the vacuum cleaner. Preferably, use a damp cloth that will absorb dirt residues too.

3. Dry Brush

If there is a lot of debris on the mesh office chair, use a dry brush to remove them.

4. Use A Water / Soap Based Solution

Dub some mild soapy water onto the solid surfaces of the mesh office chair. The soap solution should get rid of all superficial stains. Still, use a potent stain remover to combat tougher stains like coffee spills, blood, and grass residues. 

5. Allow To Dry

Air dry your mesh office chair until it dries completely. This duration will depend on the extent of the cleaning, how wet the fabric is, and whether the mesh fabric can withstand direct sunlight for long.

6. Use a Foam Cleaner If Available

Note that mesh office chairs retail in varying styles, including memory foam cushioning. For this, use reliable foam cleaner for that sparkling, fresh finish. Then, spray your choice foam cleaner onto the office chair foam. Ensure the seat is damp but not saturated. Next, use a sponge to clean the foam surface. Finally, vacuum the chair to remove any foam residue.

How to Clean an Office Chair Smell

Have you ever sat on a stinky chair? Trust me; it is never a pleasant experience. Yet, most office chair users get caught off guard by this awful scent. Your office chair can begin to smell if:

  • Bacterial build-up is allowed to continue if the user perspires regularly
  • Bacteria and fungi accumulate due to high humidity levels
  • Your office room lacks ventilation
  • Pungent smell from preservative chemicals

Indeed, the seat can be a perfect environment for harmful bacteria and fungi to thrive. And, whatever the source of the stink, don’t rush to replace your office chair. Instead, use the following remedies to get your office chair smelling fresh again.

How to Clean Office Chair Smell Arising From Bacteria and Fungi

Baking soda and vinegar are some of the readily available cleaning agents that can diminish the awful smell from your office chair. Here, the baking soda neutralizes the bacteria membrane’s PH, hence, clearing its pungent smell.

Likewise, vinegar has strong acid able to kill odour-causing bacteria. Still, be careful not to burn your office chair when rubbing the vinegar. And, vinegar may cause discoloration of some office chair fabrics. We suggest testing the vinegar solution on a discreet section of the chair first.

The next time you notice a stinky odour from your office chair, sprinkle some baking soda on it. Rub in the baking soda to push it further into the foam cushion. Leave the chair overnight before vacuuming it the following morning.

Second, if you opt to use vinegar to get rid of a bad smell due to bacteria or fungal growth, mix equal quantities of vinegar and clean water into a spraying bottle. Spray the vinegar solution onto the office chair. Leave it to air-dry overnight.

One last thing; did you know you can air out your smelly office chair to get rid of the stink? Indeed, sun rays are great in killing harmful bacteria. This solution works well with office chairs comprising mesh or vinyl fabrics. Other fabrics like leather may dry out, discolour, or crack. And, cloth materials fade over time when exposed to direct sunlight.

How to Clean Office Chair Smell Arising From Sweat Build-up

Sweat creates the right environment for harmful bacteria to thrive. In turn, the same cleaning routine for getting rid of odour-causing bacteria will work.

How to Clean Office Chair Smell Arising From Preservative Chemicals

Often, manufacturers apply harsh chemical preservatives to the office chairs while still at the factory. This smell may take days to clear on its own when you unpack your office chair. Then, you can speed up this process by airing out your new office chair before setting it up in your office. That is, leave it out in the sun on a hot and windy day. Or, set up the chair in a spacious room. Then, with windows wide open, blow air directly at the chair using a fan. The second option works when you buy your new office chair on a chilly day or when the office chair has visible wafts inside.

How to Keep Your Office Chair Clean

Now that you have your office chair clean, here are some handy tips for maintaining it that way into the future.

Have Your Meals Away From Your Office Desk.

Where do you prefer to take your lunch? Eating while seated at your office desk keeps you inactive all day. Plus, you can spill food on the chair, leaving it with nasty stains. Then, if you often find yourself working during the lunch break, designate a separate corner away from your desk where you can take a break and eat. This way, you stay active by moving around during the lunch break. Likewise, you avoid the eye damage associated with spending too much time staring at the monitor. 

Be Proactive.

Anytime you notice a spill, dirt, or dust at your office chair, reach out for your towel to clean it. This way, you prevent the blemish from drying and creating a permanent stain on your office chair.

Monitor The Humidity Levels In The Office

The prevailing temperature and moisture levels at your workstation create or prevent a microclimate conducive for harmful bacteria to grow. For example, if you work in hot areas with high humidity levels (higher than 55%), a leather fabric chair will absorb any sweat from your body, resulting in a pungent smell over time. Likewise, low humidity levels (below 40%) can dry out the leather fabric chair resulting in cracks that further allow dirt into the foam padding.

Use an Air Humidifier or Air Conditioner

If you struggle with unfavourable humidity levels, install an air humidifier to correct it. Alternatively, set your air conditioner on dry mode.

Condition Your Leather Chair Fabric Monthly

Leather fabric loses or gains moisture from its surroundings. In turn, it can become too stiff when dry or get too bulky when damp. To avoid both extremities, condition the leather fabric with your choice conditioner to retain its supple feel.

Clean and Lubricate Joints Regularly

This step is a preventive maintenance routine that ensures the chair remains flexible for longer. Indeed, dirt and spills that get trapped on the casters can cause the metal joints to rust. Rust, when left for long, will damage the chair. You may have to replace the office chair sooner than expected.

Use a Fabric Protector Spray.

Finally, spray a fabric protector on your clean chair. It creates a protective film that prevents dirt, grime, and stains from sticking to the fabric. In turn, they make it easy for you to clean the chair next time. These odourless sprays vary depending on the type of fabric on your office chair.

Whatever your unique cleaning needs, you can use this in-depth guide as your reference. Never let grime, dirt, or accidental spills damage your chair. Get rid of all these stains fast. Then, plan to keep your office chair in tip-top shape by repairing it in good time.

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