We spend a significant portion of our day sitting in our office chairs. Whether it’s for long hours at our desks working, having online meetings, or taking short breaks in between tasks, our office chair is an important part of our daily workspace setup. However, like any other furniture, office chairs also accumulate dirt, dust, and stains over prolonged use if not cleaned regularly. Thankfully, with just a little dedication and the right techniques, you can easily deep clean your office chair’s fabric and keep it looking fresh for longer.
In this guide, I’ll break down the step-by-step process to deep clean your chair fabric and maintain it between washes. By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of how to clean office chair fabric at home.
As we sit on our office chairs for long hours every day, our body releases oils, dead skin cells and sweat onto the fabric. Along with our body oils, the chair also accumulates dirt, dust and germs from the surrounding office environment. Here are the reasons why it is important to clean your office chair fabric:
- Health Benefits: Dust, dirt, and bacteria can accumulate on the fabric over time. This can cause health issues like sneezing, coughing, and respiratory problems when you sit on an unclean chair. Regular cleaning removes these contaminants and keeps you healthy.
- Aesthetic Look: Over time, the chair fabric gets dirty which makes the chair look old and worn out. Regular cleaning removes stains and keeps the fabric looking fresh and new for a long time. A clean chair improves the overall look and aesthetic appeal of your workstation.
- Improves Longevity: When dirt and grime build up on the fabric, it damages the material over time. Regular cleaning removes contaminants before they cause irreversible damage to the fabric. This helps prolong the life of your expensive office chair.
- Hygiene and Comfort: Sitting on a dirty chair can transfer germs and bacteria to your clothes. It also feels uncomfortable compared to a clean, hygienic chair surface. Regular cleaning keeps your chair fresh, hygienic, and more comfortable for long hours.
- Productivity Boost: Workers tend to feel better and be more productive when their work environment is clean and tidy. A clean chair is part of maintaining a hygienic workspace that boosts your productivity and morale at work.
Before starting the cleaning process, it’s helpful to collect all the necessary supplies. The most basic items needed include:
- Vacuum cleaner: A vacuum is essential to remove loose dirt and dust from the fabric surfaces.
- Soft brush: A gentle bristled brush is useful for dislodging stubborn debris without damaging fibers.
- Mild detergent or upholstery shampoo: A specialized cleaner formulated for fabric upholstery works best to deep clean the chair.
- Clean water: You’ll need a bucket or spray bottle of water to mix with the detergent.
- Towels: Old towels or thick cloths are handy for wiping, rinsing, and drying.
- Plastic bag or wrap (optional): Laying plastic underneath protects your floor from getting wet.
With most of these commonly found around the house, you’ll be set to deep clean your chair right away.
Let’s look at the different methods to clean different types of office chair fabrics.
Mesh fabric is a very common type used for office chair seats and backs due to its breathability. Here are the steps:
- Remove loose dirt and dust by gently wiping the surface with a dry soft cloth.
- For tougher dirt, use a vacuum cleaner attachment meant for upholstery to suck out embedded dirt. Move the attachment back and forth over the mesh.
- Make a cleaning solution by mixing mild dish soap with lukewarm water in a spray bottle. The soap should not be harsh.
- Lightly spray the solution onto the mesh fabric. Avoid soaking the fabric.
- Use a soft bristle brush or old toothbrush to gently scrub away dirt from the gaps in the mesh. Brush in one direction only.
- Rinse the mesh with clean water using a spritzer bottle or cloth to remove soapy residue. Wipe dry with a clean cloth.
- Add a few drops of lemon essential oil to the cleaning solution for musty smells. Its natural aroma will leave the fabric smelling fresh.
- Let the fabric air dry completely before using the chair. Standing fans can speed up the drying process.
- Regular vacuuming is important to keep mesh clean and prevent dirt buildup between cleaning sessions.
Leather is a very durable chair covering but needs special care during cleaning:
- Gently vacuum or wipe the leather with a dry soft cloth to remove surface-level dust and dirt.
- Make a cleaning solution by mixing lukewarm water with a few drops of mild soap or leather cleaner. Avoid harsh chemicals.
- Dip a clean soft cloth into the solution and gently wipe stains and soiled areas of the leather.
- Rinse the cleaned areas with a damp cloth and wipe dry with a separate clean dry cloth to remove any soap residue.
- For tough stains, use a soft-bristled brush or microfiber cloth to work the cleaning solution into the stain.
- Let it sit for 5 minutes before wiping it off with a damp cloth and drying it. Avoid soaking the leather.
- Apply a thin layer of leather conditioner creme using light circular motions. Buff off extra creme and let it absorb for 30 minutes.
- Wipe gently with a soft dry cloth to maintain moisture and shine. Avoid direct sunlight and heat.
- Clean weekly or bi-weekly for best results. Vacuum regularly to prevent dirt build-up.
- For deep cleaning annually, use a leather cleaning kit following product instructions.
Vinyl is affordable and durable. They come in a variety of textures from smooth to leather-like. These synthetic leathers are water-resistant and easy to clean.
- Start by vacuuming the vinyl surface to remove loose dirt and dust.
- Make a cleaning solution by mixing lukewarm water with 1-2 drops of mild dish soap. Avoid harsh chemicals.
- Dampen a clean soft cloth with the soapy solution and wipe over the entire chair surface.
- Focus particularly on any parts that are dirty or discolored. Gently rub to lift grime.
- Rinse the cloth frequently in clean water and wipe away soap residues.
- For tough stains, let the soapy solution sit for 5 minutes before wiping.
- Use a soft-bristled brush if needed to scrub spots. Wipe dry after.
- Add a few drops of lemon essential oil to the solution for musty smells.
- Rinse completely with a damp cloth and wipe dry with a separate clean dry cloth.
- To maintain shine, apply a thin layer of vinyl conditioner using gentle circular motions.
- Buff off excess and let it dry before use. Clean weekly or bi-weekly to prevent dirt buildup.
- For an annual deep clean, use a vinyl cleaning kit as per instructions on the bottle.
Chair backs, arms, and other heavily worn areas are made of sturdy, tear-resistant nylon fabric.
- Start by removing loose dirt and debris by vacuuming the nylon surface.
- Make a mild cleaning solution of lukewarm water mixed with 1-2 drops of dish soap or nylon cleaner.
- Dampen a clean lint-free cloth with the solution. Ring out excess water.
- Gently wipe the entire chair surface in one direction, applying light pressure.
- Pay extra attention to any soiled or stained areas. Rinse cloth frequently.
- For tough stains, let the soapy solution sit for 5 minutes before wiping it off.
- Use an old soft-bristled toothbrush if needed to scrub stubborn spots.
- Rinse completely with a damp cloth to remove any soap residue.
- Wipe dry with a separate clean dry cloth. Avoid direct sunlight to dry.
- To remove odors, add 10 drops of lemon essential oil to the cleaning solution.
- Clean weekly or fortnightly to prevent dirt buildup. Vacuum regularly in between.
- For annual deep cleaning, use a specialized nylon cleaner as per instructions.
Sometimes despite your best efforts, stains can set into the office chair fabric over time. Here are tips to tackle common stains:
Soda, coffee, juice, etc. Blot excess liquid immediately with a dry cloth or paper towel. Make a paste with baking soda and a few drops of water and apply it to the stain. Let it rest for a few minutes and then gently brush away. You can also use a stain remover spray or cream safe for fabrics.
Pen and marker ink can be challenging to get rid of. Spot test any cleaners first. Make a paste of lemon juice and salt and rub it onto the ink stain gently. Let it sit before rinsing it with a damp cloth. An enzyme-based cleaner also works well.
From hands or food. Use a dry cleaning solvent or d-limonene on the stain and blot regularly until it lifts. For stubborn stains, apply dishwashing liquid and rub gently before rinsing off the residue.
Vacuum or shake out debris first. Make a paste using mild detergent and warm water and gently rub it onto the soiled areas with a soft bristle brush. Rinse thoroughly with a damp cloth.
Urine, dander, etc. Use an enzymatic cleaner or vinegar to break down organic matter. Blot or rinse before the solution fully dries to prevent setting the stain. Move to an upholstery steam cleaner for tough pet stains.
By addressing stains promptly, you can prevent them from setting into the fabric permanently. With regular maintenance cleansing, stains will be easier to lift.
As an added precaution for the future, you can apply a fabric protectant spray after the chair is completely air-dried. Look for a well-known brand like Scotchgard which forms an invisible barrier on fibers to repel liquid spills. Follow the instructions, usually a light misting 12-18 inches away until slightly damp. This extra protective coating prevents stains from setting into the fibers long-term.
Place your freshly cleaned chair in an open, well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight. Allowing full air drying takes time but prevents mold growth from any lingering moisture trapped beneath fabrics. Even after the surface dries, give it another day indoors before using it to ensure the inner layers are bone dry. Proper drying leaves your chair restored to peak cleanliness!
Here are some guidelines for how often you should deep clean your office chair fabric:
Every 3-6 months: Even with periodic cleaning, dirt and oils can build up over time. You’ll want to do a thorough deep clean using upholstery cleaner or detergent at least every 3-6 months. This fully removes embedded dirt and leaves the fabric looking fresh.
After spills: If your chair gets any noticeable spills on the fabric, it’s best to deep clean it as soon as possible after the spill occurs. Cleaning up spills promptly helps prevent stains from setting in.
If you notice dirt: Check the fabric regularly and deep clean it if you start to notice visible dirt buildup or dullness in the fabric. Signs it needs a deeper wash.
High-traffic areas: Areas like the seat cushion may require more frequent cleaning, every 2-3 months, depending on how heavily used they are. Less-used back and arm fabrics can go longer between deep cleans.
Pets in the home: If you have pets, their dander and hair can soak into chair fabrics quickly. You may need to deep clean the chair monthly or bi-monthly.
Smokers: For those in a smoking home, the chair will likely need cleaning every 4-6 weeks to remove nicotine stains and odors from the fabric over time.
Regular light cleaning like vacuuming and spot treating between deep cleans helps extend the time between thorough washings. However, allowing 3-6 months between deep cleanings is a good general guideline for standard office chair use. Adjust the schedule as needed based on wear and spill situations.
With some basic cleaning supplies and know-how on different fabric types, keeping your office chair looking fresh is very straightforward. Regular vacuuming and occasional deep cleans are small efforts that pay off in preserving your chair’s aesthetics, comfort and hygiene over its usable lifespan. By practicing these easy chair-cleaning techniques, you can ensure your workspace always feels refreshingly clean.
Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about cleaning office chair fabric:
Q: What is the best way to clean an office chair fabric?
The safest way is to spot clean with a detergent-diluted water solution using a soft cloth or sponge. You can also use a vacuum attachment to clean the fabric surface. Avoid immersing the entire chair in water.
Q: Can I use regular household cleaners on my office chair fabric?
It’s best to avoid harsh chemical cleaners as they can damage or discolor the fabric over time. Opt for mild, pH-balanced cleaners instead.
Q: How do I clean sticky or grimy areas on the fabric?
For stuck-on messes, make a paste with dish soap and water and gently rub it onto the stained area with a soft brush or cloth. Wait a few minutes before blotting it dry. You can also spot-treat with a diluted vinegar solution.
Q: Can I put my office chair fabric in the washing machine?
A: In most cases, no. The agitation and spinning cycles can cause damage. It’s safer to spot clean or use an extractor washer if available. Removing the seat cushion for machine washing may work for some chairs.
Q: What’s the best way to prevent stains and dirt buildup?
Place a pillow or slipcover on the chair to protect it from everyday wear and tear. Vacuum or brush the fabric weekly to remove loose dirt before it sets in. Consider applying a fabric protector spray to help prevent stains.
Q: How do I clean polyester or mesh chair fabrics?
For polyester, spot clean with a mild detergent. For mesh, gently vacuum or use a brush or cloth to remove debris. To stop the growth of mould or bacteria, let it air dry completely.