How to Clean Office Chair Smell – A Comprehensive Guide

how to clean office chair smell

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We spend a lot of time sitting in our office chairs every day. Over time, chairs can start to absorb odors from our bodies like sweat and skin oils making them smell unpleasant. an office chair that smells bad can negatively impact your work environment and productivity. In this article, we will discuss how to clean office chair smell and keep your chair smelling fresh for a long.

Causes of Bad Smell in Office Chairs

Before learning how to clean office chair smell, it’s important to understand where odors typically come from. The top causes of smelly office chairs include:

  • Sweat and body oils – Our bodies naturally produce sweat even when we’re just sitting. These oils and sweat can soak into the fabric over time and smell.
  • Dust and dirt buildup – Dead skin cells, dust mites, and other particles in the air settle into the fabric and padding of chairs every day. This trapped dirt holds on to odors.
  • Spills and stains – Food or drink spills that aren’t cleaned up properly can mold and mildew leading to musty smells.
  • Pet hair and dander – If you have pets at home or work, their hair and skin flakes can transfer onto your chair and trap smells.
  • Natural wear over time – Upholstery and padding materials will eventually break down and absorb odors more easily the older a chair gets.

Understanding where smells originate from will help you target cleaning methods for the best results. Now let’s look at some natural and chemical-free techniques to deodorize your office chair.

Cleaning Office Chair Smell

Now that we understand the causes, let’s look at effective ways to clean office chair smell and keep it fresh:

Cleaning Office Chair Smell with Baking Soda

Baking soda is one of the most versatile and effective home cleaners you can use. It’s ideal for eliminating odors from fabrics like those in office chairs. Here are a few baking soda cleaning methods to try:

  • Sprinkle baking soda generously all over the chair’s upholstery, padding, and crevices. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes to absorb odors before vacuuming away.
  • Combine baking soda with just enough water to make a thick paste. Use an old toothbrush to scrub any stained or smelly areas, and let dry fully before sitting.

Related: How to Clean Office Chair Fabric Like a Pro: The Ultimate Guide


  • Fill a small bowl or container with baking soda and place it open near the chair. The baking soda will help absorb existing smells over time without needing to scrub. Replace every few days.
  • Add 1/2 cup baking soda to your vacuum cleaner bag or compartment – it will help eliminate odors as you vacuum the chair.

Baking soda is non-toxic and won’t damage materials. Be generous with it for the best odor-eliminating power.

how to clean office chair smell

Cleaning with Essential Oils

Many essential oils like lemon, lavender, tea tree and eucalyptus contain antioxidants and antibacterial properties that help neutralize bad smells. To use essential oils:

  • Mix 5-6 drops of your chosen essential oil into 1 cup of warm water. Gently wipe this solution all over the chair upholstery with a clean cloth.
  • Add 5-10 drops of essential oil to a spray bottle filled with water. Spray the mixture on chair surfaces and let air dry. Re-apply weekly.
  • Put a few drops on a cotton ball and place it inside chair crevices to absorb odors over time.
  • Diffuse 2-3 drops of essential oil in a veggie oil warmer or diffuser near the chair for 30 minutes 1-2 times daily.

The fresh scent will help cover existing odors. Be cautious of essential oils around light upholstery tones as they can sometimes stain. Always spot-test first.

Steam Cleaning Office Chairs

For heavy-duty cleaning, nothing beats the deep-cleaning power of steam. A steamer gets chairs nice and hot to kill dust mites and bacteria while the steam penetrates deep into fibers to eliminate ground-in smells. Here’s how to steam clean a chair:

  • Protect nearby surfaces with towels and open windows for ventilation during steaming.
  • Test steam levels on a small hidden area first. Too close can damage the fabric.
  • Hold the steam nozzle 3-6 inches from the surface and glide it back and forth slowly.

Related: How to Clean Office Chair without Vacuum Like a Pro


  • Focus on crevices, seams, and extra smelly spots. Let the hot steam work its magic for 30 seconds to a minute in each area.
  • Use the steaming burst button for tough stains and an upholstery attachment tool if available.
  • Let the chair fully air dry before sitting to avoid mold growth from trapped moisture. Repeat weekly until the smells are gone.

Steam cleaning is a fast, chemical-free way to deep-sanitize chairs and leave them odor-free. Just be cautious of steam temperature around delicate materials.

Cleaning With Vinegar or Ammonia

If odors are extra persistent, you may need to use a bit stronger cleaning solution. White vinegar or ammonia can help eliminate set-in smells when used properly:

  • Mix 1 cup white vinegar with 1 gallon of warm water. Use a clean cloth or upholstery brush to gently scrub it all over the chair.
  • For ammonia, mix 1/4 cup of ammonia with 1 gallon of warm water. Only use ammonia on tough stains or for disinfecting – it can sometimes discolor darker fabrics over time.
  • Let the chair fully air dry afterward. The vinegar or ammonia mixture will break down stuck-on dirt and odors as it dries.

Be extra cautious using these cleaners around delicate materials or vinyl. Test spots first and don’t soak fabrics. Proper ventilation is also a must.

how to clean office chair smell

Spot Clean Stains

  • To spot clean any stubborn stains, make a solution of dish soap and warm water.
  • Use a clean toothbrush to gently scrub stains and deposits on the chair fabric.
  • Rinse well and let dry completely to avoid any soap residue smell.

Sun Exposure

  • Place the office chair outside in direct sunlight for 4-6 hours after cleaning.
  • The heat and UV rays of the sun will help sanitize any remaining bacteria and eliminate musty smells.
  • Make sure to bring the chair inside before dusk to avoid dampness.

Use Odor Eliminator Spray

  • Use a commercial odor eliminator spray made for fabrics after cleaning heavily smelly chairs.
  • Spray generously all over the chair and let it dry completely as directed on the bottle.
  • These sprays contain enzymes that break down odor molecules leaving behind a fresh scent.

Cleaning Chair Frame and Wheels

Don’t forget to also clean the exposed frame and wheels of office chairs which often harbor odors too. Wipe down frames with soapy water or disinfecting wipes. For casters:

  • Remove the wheels and wash them thoroughly with soap and warm water using an old toothbrush.
  • For particularly dirty wheels, soak them in a mild vinegar solution before scrubbing.
  • Rinse well and let thoroughly air dry before replacing wheels.
  • Spray disinfectant or Lysol on frames while doing a deeper clean.

A sparkling clean base and wheels tie the whole chair deodorizing process together perfectly.

how to clean office chair smell

Preventing Office Chair Odors

Along with actively cleaning odors, you can take preventative steps to keep your office chair smelling fresh between deep cleanings:

  • Use an office chair cover to protect the fabric and make cleaning easier.
  • Alternate between 2 chairs so neither gets overused.
  • Apply essential oils to fabric monthly to inhibit odor growth.
  • Vacuum under cushions weekly to remove crumbs and debris.
  • Clean spills immediately to prevent staining and smell.
  • Shampoo wash cushions and fabric every 6 months.
  • Replace worn-out cushions that you can’t get clean.

When to Call In a Professional

Severely smelly office chairs with embedded odors may require professional cleaning. Upholstery cleaning services have access to commercial-grade equipment, solvents, and odor-removal techniques.

Call upholstery cleaners if you’ve tried all DIY methods without success. They can troubleshoot why smells persist and develop a targeted treatment plan.

Though professional services cost more upfront, they can save you money by extending your chair’s lifespan so you don’t need to replace it. Thorough cleaning restores even the smelliest office chair to like-new condition.

Final Thoughts

With regular cleaning, there’s no need to live with a smelly office chair. Baking soda, essential oils, steaming and gentle cleansers all help dissolve and refresh odors from fabric without causing damage. Be thorough yet gentle with materials. With some routine maintenance using these natural odor-fighting methods, you can have an office chair that smells as fresh as the day you bought it. A deodorized seat makes working in the office much more comfortable and boosts productivity.

I hope this article provided helpful tips on effectively cleaning and eliminating any undesirable odors from your office chair. With the right cleaning techniques, you can easily keep your chair smelling great day after day.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some frequently asked questions about how to clean office chairs smell with simple answers:

Q: How often should I clean my office chair?

It’s recommended to give your office chair a thorough cleaning once every 2-4 weeks. For heavily used chairs, once every 1-2 weeks is better. Vacuuming weekly helps control smells.

Q: Can I use laundry detergent to clean my chair?

While laundry detergent can help remove stains and dirt, it may not fully remove odors or leave behind a soapy residue that can attract smells. Specialized carpet & upholstery cleaners are safer. Spot test first.

Q: What cleaner is best for leather office chairs?

For leather chairs, use a mild leather cleaner or mix 1 part vinegar with 10 parts water. Apply with a clean cloth and buff dry. Never use harsh cleaners as they can damage leather over time. Always test first.

Q: How do I get rid of musty smells from my chair?

For musty smells, focus on the baking soda or vinegar treatment. Let it sit longer than the vacuum. Using an odor-eliminator spray afterward and exposing it to sunlight also helps. You may need multiple rounds of cleaning.

Q: Can I wash chair covers in a washing machine?

Yes, removable chair covers and cushions can safely be machine-washed on a gentle cycle using mild detergent. Avoid fabric softener which leaves behind a scent bacteria can feed on. Air dry completely.

Q: What’s the best way to prevent chair smells?

Regular cleaning and good hygiene help prevent smells. Vacuuming weekly and deep cleaning monthly is key. Wipe up spills immediately. Consider a stretch chair cover to trap sweat and dirt. Good airflow and sunlight exposure also discourage odors.

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