Wednesday, May 14, 2014

How to Clean Your Office Chair

This one might be a lost cause
Most people tend to give their office chair a pretty rough time. The worker probably doesn’t exist who hasn’t, at one time or another, spilled a cup of coffee or a can of soda on their chair. Workers who eat at their desks leave other types of stains. And almost everyone, at one time or another, has gotten something nasty on their hands and taken the easy way out, using their office chair to wipe it off. Assuming that you don’t want to leave your office chair in the condition it can end up in following incident after incident, here are some suggestions for effective cleaning.

Consider the Material

Before you begin cleaning, you’ll want to determine what type of material your chair is made of. If it’s vinyl or leather, probably all you’re going to have to do is wipe it down with a damp cloth and maybe a bit of mild detergent. If it’s fabric, however, make sure you know what kind. Take a look under the seat – often, the manufacturer places a tag in that location that tells you the fabric composition. The tag may even provide cleaning instructions. If there aren’t any instructions, you can probably safely assume that the fabric is at least half polyester, since most office chairs are upholstered using synthetic fabrics. This is because synthetics don’t stain all that easily, and again you might not have to clean vigorously. In fact, if you get to the stain before it sets, you might be able to just sponge it off with a bit of clear water. As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to get to spills before the stain sets, because the manufacturer won’t warranty the chair against stains.

Commercial Upholstery Cleaners

Most upholstery cleaners are foam-based, and will clean, freshen and deodorize soiled upholstery. To use a foam cleaner, dampen the chair with a clean rag and some water, but don’t soak it. Then spray on the cleaner, and wipe it in with the rag. Use a dry towel to soak up the excess moisture. Repeat until the upholstery has been cleaned to your satisfaction. This option is ideal for most because you can just keep a bottle in a nearby closet.


Solvents are intended to be used as spot treatments, so getting to the stain soon after it occurs is important. Apply the solvent to the stain using a scrubber or a toothbrush. Let it sit for about ten minutes, and then rub gently with a damp towel until the stain disappears. 

Do-it-Yourself Upholstery Cleaner

This is a cheaper alternative to commercial upholstery cleaner. Dilute one part of mild dishwashing detergent in 20 parts warm water. Using a rag, apply the solution in a circular motion, blotting with a clean, damp cloth as you go. Continue rinsing until you don’t see any more soap, and then blot the area dry with a clean towel.

Rug Doctor

If you’re cleaning a lot of chairs, or if they’re very dirty, you might want to consider renting a Rug Doctor with a furniture attachment from your local hardware or grocery store. It’s not as expensive as hiring a company to come in and steam clean your chairs, and you’ll get the same results.


It’s always better to prevent stains than to try to deal with them after they’ve happened. If you can afford it, go with a vinyl upholstered office chair instead of the cheaper fabric. It will cost a bit more to begin with, but you’ll save on cleaning costs over the long run. If you have to go with fabric, at least apply an upholstery protector like Scotch Guard before using the chair – it will make stains easier to deal with as they happen.

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