how to clean office chairs

December 2, 2022

How To Clean Office Chairs Effectively [Step-by-Step Guide]

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Most offices or workspaces do not realize the need for cleaning and maintaining their chairs until they wear out and look too untidy to use. Such a condition certainly does not happen in a few days! It is only after months of heavy usage, regularly by your employees that worsen the look and condition of the chairs. This is why you need to clean your office chairs often to prevent dust, germs, or stains to accumulate. 

Your employees may have spilled tea/coffee or dropped food while eating at the desks. These not only result in stubborn stains but also make the chairs breeding grounds for bacteria, fungi, or molds. Food particles or liquid spills also emit foul odors and contaminate the air of the office, which can cause health problems. With regular cleaning and the right cleaning methods, you can easily remove the stains and make your office chairs look hygienic and spotless again.   

So, what are you doing to keep your office chairs clean and hygienic? Well getting professional cleaning services is the most appropriate way to deep clean your chairs and make them look super-tidy and new again. To know how to clean office chairs proficiently regardless of their material type, read this comprehensive guide.

Here we have talked about essential cleaning supplies, steps and techniques to clean, and ways to maintain the material of the chairs. 

What Will You Need?

Different chairs are made of different materials and hence, each of them requires special cleaning substances. Using the right cleaning substances is necessary to ensure the material or fabric of the chair is not damaged.

Most chair manufacturers provide a tag with a cleaning code. For example, the upholstery cleaning code "W" or "S" signifies the use of ‘water-based solutions’ or ‘dry-cleaning solvents’ respectively.

Before you dive straight into the process of how to clean office chairs, learn about the necessary cleaning supplies or substances to use for cleaning.

1. Vacuum Cleaner

This is the first essential thing you need to clean your upholstered office chairs and mesh chairs. You specifically need handheld equipment, which makes vacuuming the upholstery easier and helps remove all the dirt, dust, and allergens. 

2. Soft Clothes

Rubbing and wiping are a part of the cleaning process and that requires soft and sterile clothes, preferably cotton and microfiber. Any clean old clothes will also serve the purpose.

3. Sprayer Bottle

When you wash the surface of the chairs, you need to gently spray the cleaning substance/detergent and water. To spray them evenly without overflowing the substance anywhere you need a sprayer bottle.   

4. Duster

Even though it is optional, it is better to keep a duster to clean the tight areas/joints of the chair that the vacuum cleaner can’t reach. Also, you can blow the dust particles from such areas with a can of compressed air.

5. Alcohol, Vinegar, and Laundry Detergent

Most chairs get numerous deep stains due to regular use that can’t be removed by scrubbing or rinsing with a moistened cloth. Consider tough ingredients like alcohol, vinegar, or laundry detergent to remove such stains. However, many manufacturers provide instructions for cleaning and prohibit the use of such items if the fabric is delicate. So make sure to read the instructions before using them.

6. Portable upholstery cleaner

You may need this if the chairs get too much mess due to consistent use, like the chairs used by customers or clients. An upholstery cleaner will help you instantly clean them.

How Long Does It Take To Clean A Chair?

Most workspaces leave their chairs to collect dirt and dust for days and do not clean them until blemishes appear or a musty smell spread out. They think cleaning takes too much time as it includes, wiping every part, including the surface, arms, wheels, and legs. For this reason, they mostly skip the need to clean the chairs regularly. It affects the freshness and hygiene of the workspace.

If you do not clean frequently, food spills or dirt get trapped in the fabric causing deep stains that will be hard to remove. So, make sure that you clean up the chair as soon as it gets a spill or dirt mark.

Just soak up a plain cloth in soap and water, and rub it gently over the stain. This hardly takes 5 minutes but will prevent the stain marks from settling deep into the fabric.

If you are wondering how to clean office chair wheels and every other part quickly so that your office work is not at all disrupted, hire expert cleaners from an agency. They can come early morning, later in the evening, or on the off-days and will thoroughly clean up the chairs. 

But, you should regularly dust and wipe up the chairs for maintaining their hygiene and look. It is not at all time-consuming. The entire process will take a maximum of 15 minutes including, the time of natural air-drying. It brings a shine to the chairs and removes all the free dust and germs from the surface. Since maintenance cleaning does not take much time, you can do it 1-2 times a week or whenever you wipe the desks. 

When you are seeking help from professionals for deep cleaning and removing stubborn stains, it may take 30 minutes or more.

How To Clean Office Chairs?

Office chairs inevitably get grime, dust, and spills every day, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. Accidents like spilling coffee or falling off some food crumbs while eating hurriedly are bound to happen in between the work stress. What’s in your hand is to clean the office chairs at frequent intervals so that they do not build up a layer of dirt on the surface, develop dark spots, or harbor mold/bacterial growth. Leaving the chairs just like that for days can also result in smelly air in the office space. 

When the upholstery is not cleaned well regularly, the chairs get unpleasant spots or blemishes. Some of the stains can get permanently seated in the fabric if not removed in time. Also, moisture builds up in chairs in humid regions.

Offices in such areas need to take much care to prevent the thriving molds, which may corrode the materials, decay the fabrics, and damage the chairs. Deep cleaning regularly with dry solutions is necessary to prevent mold/mildew and ensure the permanency of chairs. 

For all these reasons, you should pay special attention to cleaning your office chairs frequently and restoring their freshness. But we know it isn’t as simple as it sounds!

Any type of work chair is made using supreme-quality materials or fabric and has numerous parts like arms, wheels, and legs. You should clean the materials and parts with different techniques and care. This leaves us with no doubt why most workplaces hire trained cleaners.  

If you are not aware of how to clean office chairs in a hassle-free way without harming the upholstery, fabric, or mesh, here’re a set of tips for you.

1. Vacuum And Dust Off The Entire Chair

If you want to clean fabric office chairs, vacuum cleaning is the most suitable option. Clean up all the dust from the surface and backrest to the wheels using a handheld vacuum. You can even remove hair from chair wheels with the help of vacuum equipment. For the corners or areas that cannot be reached with the vacuum use a duster or a can of compressed air.

 Vaccum And Dust Off The Entire Chair

Pick up Any Loose Debris

When you start to clean computer chairs at your office, the first thing you notice is the bits or pieces of food, bigger debris, paper cuts, pins, and other such loose particles. They can fall accidentally when employees work hurriedly. Before vacuum cleaning, make sure to pick those visible solid particles or simply dust them off. If these are not removed, they get forced into the fabric or mesh. This makes the next step of cleaning difficult for you.

Pick up Any Loose Debris

Blot The Spill Until It’s Gone

In case of a liquid spill, the quicker you clean it, the better it is. Otherwise, the liquid will seep into the fabric and settle in, causing stains and bad odors. Use a wet cloth to blot the spill. The damp cloth will absorb the liquid as much as possible. Squeeze out the liquid in a separate container and repeat the step. You need to continue this process until the spill goes away.

Blot The Spill Until It’s Gone

Check The Care Tag

Every chair manufacturer provides a label or tag for wash care. There is code in the instructions like S, W, or S/W. S indicates the use of solvent-based solutions for cleaning, W indicates water-based solvents, and S/W indicates the use of any one of the two. So to know how to clean an office chair fabric, just read the instructions provided in the tag by the manufacturer.

Check The Care Tag

S-coded Chairs Need Dry Solvent Cleaning

Manufacturing companies build chairs with a variety of upholstery and provide a care tag along with their chairs. So, you should know what cleaning substances are suitable for your chairs. If the care instruction of the office chair is coded ‘S’, it means using any water-based solvents will damage the upholstery. You need dry-cleaning solvents for it. Before applying the cleaning solution that comes in powdered or liquid form, always check the instructions for use on its label.

However, in both cases, make sure to apply the solvent in small amounts on the cloth and then use it to blot up the mark.

 S-coded Chairs Need Dry Solvent Cleaning

W-coded Chairs Need Wet Solvent Cleaning

W-coded chairs must be cleaned with water-based solutions. You can create a water-based solvent easily by wetting a cloth in a mixture of water and mild soap. Use the cloth to gently wipe the stain on smooth fabric or upholstery. Do not rub on the stain as it may damage the surface, especially when it’s microfiber or fabric.

W-coded Chairs Need Wet Solvent Cleaning

Use Alcohol For Stain Removal

For the most stubborn spots or stains, you can use alcohol. It is highly useful for chairs with cleaning code ‘S’. First, dip a cloth or cotton ball into the alcohol. Before the solution dries out, gently pat the cloth on the stain. You can even spray alcohol directly on the stain, and use a cleaning brush if the stain is darker or hard on the surface. While using alcohol, make sure to use a very less amount of alcohol and do not rub the cloth on acrylic fabric.

Use Alcohol For Stain Removal

2. Upholstery Cleaning

Tidying up the upholstery is challenging. They come in various fabric types, colors, smoothness, and durability. In some, stains or spills can be removed easily while in some they get settled so hard that cannot be removed even with a soapy solvent. Most upholstery materials are delicate. While cleaning them hastily with a cloth, the fabric will get scratched or torn. That is why only vacuum cleaning is recommended.

Cleaning upholstery also needs care because the fabric is expensive and has a shine and soft texture. If you do not clean the chairs regularly, they will soon lose their luster or smoothness.

Standard Upholstery Cleaning

The first step for cleaning upholstery is to check the tag and look for the cleaning instructions provided by the manufacturers. The instructions are provided with a lettered code, which can be S, W, SW, X, and C. Each code determines a specific cleaning method.

Standard Upholstery Cleaning
  • W - Allows the use of water-based solvent on the spots or stains in the upholstery.
  • S - Allows the use of water-free or dry-cleaning solvent to remove stains or spills.
  • SW- Allows the use of either dry-cleaning or water-based solvent for cleaning the upholstery.
  • X – This means the upholstery is delicate and hence, should be cleaned with the help of professionals.
  • C- Applies to upholstery with Crypton fabric cleaning in which stains are removed with water and foam shampoo or enzyme-based detergents.

Vacuum up Dirt and Dust

Since you should clean the upholstery of the chair with care, use a vacuum that comes with an upholstery tool to remove all the dirt and dust. It is attached with a soft brush at one end that will get you to the hard-to-reach areas of the chair. Cleaning the chair’s surface, backrest, and arms with the vacuum will make it look super clean as it completely removes away all types of grime or particles. 

During this step, you can also use a crevice tool to vacuum the areas that can’t be easily reached.

Usually, the brush is soft enough to prevent any scratches on the fine vinyl upholstery. One important tip is that keep the suction lesser to prevent any damage to the upholstery.

Keep A Water And Liquid Soap Solution

For upholstery cleaning, you need to use a mild detergent or soap that is biodegradable. A vital step is to check it on a small part of the upholstery to ensure that the solution won’t damage the fabric.

Now depending on fabric type or quality, mix water with the solution. For instance, mix just 1 cup of water with 3-4 drops of soap and use the solution to clean vinyl, leather, or fabric upholstery.

Keep A Water And Liquid Soap Solution

Dip A Rag In Your Cleaning Solution And Wipe Down The Upholster

Keep this essential tip engraved in your mind if you want to know how to clean office chair fabric. Always take a piece of lint-free cloth and just dampen it in your preferred cleaning solution instead of soaking it. Use the cloth to wipe down gently through the entire upholstered surface.

This tip is a must to follow to ensure no cleaning solution is left on the upholstery when you wipe it with the cloth. Also, avoid rubbing with the cloth it might disturb the mesh or scratch the fabric/leather.

Dip A Rag In Your Cleaning Solution And Wipe Down The Upholster

Wipe The Upholstery With A Dry Cloth

After you have wiped out the upholstery of the chair, take a separate clean and dry cloth to wipe away any foam or soap residue. Also, allow the chairs to air dry for some time so that no water is left. In case you need to use the chairs soon, keep them in a properly ventilated space.

Wipe The Upholstery With A Dry Cloth

While cleaning the upholstery, you can also apply a sanitizer or sterilizer on the surface for ensuring hygiene. If you want to how to disinfect an office chair to avoid the spread of COVID or any other viruses, contact the best professional cleaners near you.

3. Clean Arms, Wheel, And Legs

Cleaning the parts of the chairs i.e., wheels, legs, stand, and arms is as essential as cleaning the body or upholstered surface. You can notice that dirt or bits of dry foods mostly get stuck at the lower portion of the arms and backrest where they join the seat.

They are not easily visible. But they can grow fungi or bacteria if not cleaned or removed on time. So, make sure that you are dusting and cleaning the parts of your office chair too regularly. Here are some tips on how to clean office chair parts thoroughly.

Flip The Chair And Remove The Wheels

Most of the specks of dust accumulate underneath the chairs’ seats, on the stands, and legs. Also, debris, grimes, dirt, hair, etc. get stuck on the wheels as the chairs roll here and there. If they are left as it is, the bottom of the chairs gets dirtiest and messiest to clean up later on. 

If you are looking for some expert tips on how to remove dirt from office chair wheels, stands, and legs, get started this simple way! Just flip the chair and keep it upside down. Then, the first step is to remove the wheels with a screwdriver or by simply pulling them off. That way it becomes easier to clean the legs. Use a dry rag or duster to wipe all the dust and other debris from the lower parts. You can use a vacuum tool to clean up the flat upholstery surface just underneath the seat.

Use A Butter Knife To Scrape Off The Debris

To remove the bigger debris that got stuck in the joined parts of the chair, use a butter knife. It could be anything, i.e., dried food, stones, sticky particles, paper or cardboard parts, carpet fibers, etc.

These get caught on the wheels and obstruct the movement of the chairs. With the knife, you can easily slip inside the caster wheel, wheel’s base, seat tilt adjuster and control, and joint between the spindle and swivel of the stand. 

Also, you can use a scissor or tweezers to remove hair from office chair wheels to delicately remove them without causing any scratches.

Wipe The Wheel With A Dry Cloth

The wheels which are the revolving foundation of your chairs need to be thoroughly cleaned regularly so that there are no disruptions in moving the chairs. 

Sometimes, the hinge between the wheels and legs also gets sticky dirt from the shoes. It is even more difficult when then dirt gets deep inside the cracks and bearings of the caster wheels. It prevents the movement as well as rotation of the chair.

Wipe away the filth or mess on the wheels using a soft dry cloth. For the sticky substances, use a mix of water and dishwashing soap to dampen the cloth and then wipe away the sticky mess. You may notice dirt inside the crack of the caster wheels i.e., between the wheel and the cover. In that case, take a dampened cotton swab and press it in the crack to clean out the dirt.

Use Paper Towels To Dry The Wheels

After you clean chair wheels, if moisture or soap is left on them, it will again cause uneven movement on the floor. To wipe away the excess soapy water that is left on the wheels after wiping, you should thoroughly sponge the wheels with a dry paper towel. Pay attention to this tip when you are cleaning office chair wheels, especially using soap.

Place The Wheels Back And Flip The Chair Over

Once you have thoroughly cleaned the chairs’ bottom and the wheels, fix the wheels back to the legs and then flip the chair over. You can assure to have cleaned the office chairs well by checking how they roll.

They must be now rolling super-smooth and effortlessly. If your wheels are attached with screws, then use a screwdriver to get back the wheels in place. Make sure to tightly screw each of the legs to avoid accidents while sitting or moving.

Clean The Arms And Legs With a Damp Cloth

The easiest parts of the chairs to clean are the arms and legs since they are either made of plastic or metal. Even though they get much of the dust, you can easily wipe them off with a clean moistened cloth.

Many times, arms get liquid spills like coffee or soft drinks, which later become sticky and cause stains. For those spills and stains, you should swab and sponge the arms with a cloth dipped in a mix of dish soap and water.

Wipe Them With A Dry Cloth

Lastly, let the arms dry in the air after cleaning them with a mild soapy solution. If you are in a hurry to place the chairs in the workstations, wipe them with a dry cloth and keep the chairs in the open air.

Take Care of Different Materials

This section will help you know how to clean office chairs of different materials with utmost care while removing odors, germs, molds, blemishes, and smudges. While there is a distinct cleaning code for each type of material, you should also check for the restrictions that apply to the cleaning process on the instruction label. For instance, some materials should never be exposed to heat whereas some materials should never be exposed to water or mild soap.  

Despite all these, office chairs need cleaning frequently to ensure the office environment is healthy and aesthetically appealing. In case you are looking for special guidelines on how to clean old office chairs, here we go. Take a look at the cleaning methods and tips for each type of chair.

1. Leather Chair Cleaning

It is rare to find office chairs made of original leather that comes from the skin of animals. Those are expensive but look highly sophisticated. But there are chairs made of vegan/faux leather and artificial leather.

Most of the leather-based office chairs are made of either of these two and are fairly priced. While you need a specific leather conditioner to clean the office chairs made with genuine or original leather, chairs made with vegan leather require a strong moisturizer. Vegan leather is less porous and using moisturizer will prevent the wrinkling of the smooth surface.

Leather chair cleaning

To clean office chairs of all types of artificial leather, you should use a mild solution of soap and water. Make sure to use only liquid soap to create the solution. Then, soak a soft, clean, and lint-free cloth in the cleaning solution and wipe the surface of the chair. After it’s done, wipe away the excess soap water from the surface with a separate dry cloth. Let it dry in the air for a few minutes and your chairs are all set to use with a pristine shine! 

Some pro tips to clean office chairs made of leather:

  • Never use any heat source for quickly drying your chairs as it can damage or crack the leather.
  • To remove dark spots or stains, use leather cream or moisturizer.
  • For molds removals, you can rub an alcohol solution.
  • Clean the surface, particularly in circular motions, and never scrub on it.

2. Mesh Chair Cleaning

Looking for ways how to clean mesh office chairs that are preferred for their best ventilation support? You should first understand that mesh chairs are different from other chairs for their characteristic backrest which allows airflow. This makes mesh chairs comfortable and working for hours at the desk becomes bearable.

But, the chairs are quite tough to clean! The mesh surface is netted and so the gaps in the fabric catch most grime, crumbs, and dust. While cleaning them, you must be careful to prevent tearing or disordering the mesh.

Mesh chair cleaning

You should be cleaning these chairs with a vacuum cleaner to keep the mesh intact. Other key supplies that you need to clean mesh chairs are microfiber cloth, sponge, dish soap, and water. While the vacuum cleaner will take away all the dirt or debris stuck in the mesh, a wet cloth and sponge will help in cleaning the blemishes and grime spots. 

Some pro tips to clean mesh office chairs:

  • Wipe over the mesh gently to avoid rupturing or damaging the mesh.
  • Rinse out the cloth every time and continue to clean the surface with the soap water until the cloth looks clean.
  • Use plain and warm water.
  • Let the chairs dry completely before getting them back to the workspace.

3. Plastic Chair Cleaning

Cleaning plastic chairs is hassle-free and easiest! However, they are not a preferred choice for offices. Many offices use them for their lightweight feature and are easy to clean and maintain. Also, many offices keep plastic chairs only in waiting areas, halls, or eateries. If your office has plastic chairs that need cleaning, use a fresh cloth dipped in water or water-soap solution. 

Plastic chairs easily catch germs and tough stains. Use a disinfectant solution to sanitize the chairs and restore their former shiny appearance. Dust and stains also get caught below the seat and on the legs. 
So, while cleaning, make sure to rub and wipe down the entire length of the chairs. 

Some pro tips to clean plastic office chairs:

  • Use alcohol-based solution to clean the stubborn grimy areas on the chairs.
  • Quick dry the chairs that have metal frames to prevent them to catch rust.
  • Avoid any abrasive cleaners that can scratch the plastic chairs.
  • Sprinkle dry baking soda using a sponge or brush and rub gently to remove stains.

4. Wooden Chair Accent Cleaning

Wooden chairs are also not appropriate for office use but many workspaces have them in particular zones like the reception area or CEO room for welcoming clients/guests.

If you are not sure how to clean office chair seats and arms made of wood, then seek expert advice. Choose your cleaning supplies wisely because wooden chairs are expensive and have a distinct finish or grained texture. You should make sure to clean with a sensitive solution so that the finish of the wooden chairs is not hampered. It would be even better if you choose a wood-specific cleaner.

Wooden Chair Accent Cleaning

Dust off the surface of the chairs before cleaning them with a solution. Also, apply the solution to a soft and tidy rag to wipe and clean. This avoids the solution from directly applying to the wood and damaging its finish or texture. 

Some pro tips to clean wooden accent office chairs:

  • Treat the sticky spots or stains with mild soap and water but don’t forget to dry the area with a separate fresh cloth
  • Wipe the wood surface gently in long strokes
  • Allow the chairs to dry up fully as absorption of water in any parts will grow molds and damage the wood
  • Dust the wooden chairs weekly and also buff the surfaces after dusting with a soft microfiber cloth to keep up the shine

Too Busy? Let The Professionals Handle It!

With countless office management responsibilities on their shoulder, most office owners skip out the need for cleaning the chairs. However, cleaning the chairs is a must for maintaining the cleanliness of the workstations! Unclean chairs are not just bad for the eyes but also for the health of the employees. Food particles, liquid spills, dirt, debris, etc. caught in the chair cause a foul smell which makes the office environment unhygienic and suffocating. 

For all these reasons, if you are not getting the time to clean office chairs, contact the professionals at Sterling Cleaning Services and let us do the cleaning job for you. Our trained staff is adept at all types of commercial facility cleaning including office cleaning. They know well how to clean office chairs thoroughly and with utmost precision. So, if you are chairs are dirty or smelly, waste no more time but contact our expert cleaning operators! 

Whether you need to clean fabric office chairs, mesh chairs, or leather chairs, we will help you with a comprehensive office cleaning plan weekly, monthly, or one-time basis at competitive pricing. Get our affordable services and make your workspace look posh and clean with super-tidy chairs!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do you clean fabric chairs?

The best way to clean fabric office chairs is to use a vacuum cleaner and free the surface from dust particles and smuts. If your fabric chair is too much dirty and full of blemishes, it needs a deep cleaning.

For that, use a bit of mild soap or detergent and mix it in water. Dip a microfiber cloth in the soapy solution and use the cloth to scrub gently the seat, back, and all sides of the chair. 

Once done, you should again wipe the chair with a dried piece of cloth and let it stay in the open air to dry up completely.

2. Is office chair cleaning expensive?

You can clean your office chairs at a minimal cost per chair. It is indeed affordable when you have to clean a bulk of chairs in your workspace. While you get the chairs cleaned by spending less money, you can also free your maintenance staff from the extra work of cleaning chairs.

3. How do I clean a leather office chair?

You must know how to clean office chairs made of leather with appropriate techniques and cleaning materials. First, use a vacuum cleaner to remove loose dirt or debris particles. After that, create a light mix of soap and water as the cleaning solution. Dip a dirt-free cloth in the solution and gently rub it over the entire surface of the chair. Wipe all the body, arms, legs, and wheels to make the chairs spotless and restore their shine.

4. What chemicals should be used?

Avoid using any chemicals except hydrogen peroxide on the chairs of fabric, mesh, leather, wood, or plastic as it can damage the materials. Slightly viscous, it is an antiseptic and also a bleaching agent. Thus, it helps to remove deep stains and spots.

Apart from that, you can use other cleaning substances like vinegar and alcohol apart for thorough cleaning.

5. Why is it important to professionally clean office chairs?

You need help from specialized cleaners to thoroughly clean all your office chairs because they are trained at the job. Having specialization in the field, they know how to clean office chairs that are in mess or stink badly. They have mastered efficient techniques to clean the body and every part of the chair individually. They even know how to clean office chair without a vacuum in case it is made of delicate fabric that can easily get crinkles or ruptures.

It is not at all possible for the keeper or caretaker of your office to clean the chairs with so much dexterity. They can only dust them regularly which isn’t enough. To put it simply, you need professionals to clean the fabric/leather/mesh, make the nooks and crannies dirt-free, remove stains, and get rid of bad odors.

6. How long will it take my office chair to dry?

After cleaning the chair and wiping it with a fresh dried cloth, it needs to be air dried so that there’s no amount of moisture anywhere on the surface or joints. It takes approximately 15-30 minutes to dry the whole chair, depending on the humidity and ventilation of the space.

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