Can You Wash An Office Chair?

Whether it’s at your work desk or in your home office, an office chair collects a lot of dirt, bacteria, and crumbs.

There are a few steps you need to take before and while cleaning it so as not to damage the chair any further. Luckily, this can be a fast and easy process.

Types of Chair Material

The most common type of office chair materials is fabric, mesh, plastic, and leather.

While a fabric office chair will need more elbow grease than a plastic alternative, there are a few basic steps you’ll take regardless of the material.

Most variations in cleaning your office chair will be between fabric/mesh versus plastic/leather. The structure, cushions, and chemical resistance are more common between those pairings.

For an older chair that may have peeling or flaking pieces, you’ll want to consider purchasing chair covers that will be easier to clean. Otherwise, vacuuming or washing the material can lead to further damage.

Check the Care Tag

Almost every chair comes with a care tag in its original packaging and is posted somewhere on the body.

If you’re concerned with cleaning the material of your office chair, these instructions will guide you on proper cleaning steps to remove any stains, dust, or grime.

The care tag, which is typically found on the base of the chair, will have a cleaning code.

The cleaning code letters – W, S, S/W, WASH, or X – will provide further instruction on whether to use fabric cleaner, dry clean only, vacuum only, etc.

If you can’t locate the tag or you’ve misplaced the original documents, you can sometimes look up the office chair model online and find the company’s recommended cleaning procedure.

However, if you’re only looking to clean off the general dust and dirt, these steps should be enough to keep it clean and undamaged.

Cleaning Supplies You’ll Need

After you’ve taken a look at the care tag instructions, it’s time to get together the required supplies.

While special cleaning products and chemicals will need to be purchased, you can find most of the equipment you’ll need already in your regular cleaning supplies.

These are the cleaning products you’ll most likely need to have on hand:

  • A vacuum cleaner – handheld or one with a brush attachment
  • Handheld duster or microfiber cloth
  • Dish soap
  • Warm water
  • Spray bottle or bowl
  • Additional soft cloths or rags

If you’re going to deep clean stains or discolorations, you’ll also want to have to rub alcohol or a portable upholstery/carpet cleaner on hand.

There are also several homemade upholstery cleaners you can make with simple kitchen supplies.

When using cleaning products, it’s important to remember to wear gloves and read the chemical information.

Do not mix chemicals that could lead to a harmful reaction and dilute stronger chemicals that could harm the chair.

Vacuum and Dust

Regardless of what type of chair you have, start by removing larger pieces of debris like crumbs, dirt, and hair with a vacuum cleaner.

A handheld model works well, but you’ll have an easier time getting into any hard-to-reach spaces with a brush attachment.

Next, using a handheld duster or microfiber cloth, work from the top of the chair to the bottom of the legs and wheels. You’ll be able to clean cracks and spaces in between upholstery easier with your fingers in a cloth.

After this, a quick follow-up with the vacuum cleaner may be necessary.

The brush attachment is more useful than a simple crevice tool. The brush is more gentle on the material and the bristles are designed to work out set-in crumbs and dirt from small spaces.

You’ll have an easier time dusting off plastic and leather chairs than you will with fabric and mesh chairs.

In this case, it’s important to go over the seats and backing more thoroughly with the vacuum cleaner to be sure you’re collecting dust and debris within the cushion’s webbing.

Spot Treatment

Daily spills and stains should be treated immediately by blotting up the mess as quickly as possible. However, some food and beverages are too stubborn when trying to remove them from certain surfaces.

Lighter-colored material and fabric chairs will hold onto stains easier.

When looking to remove these discolorations, you’ll want to use a small amount of alcohol-based cleaner. For leather chairs, you’ll need to test or dilute the product to avoid possible further damage.

You want to be careful not to discolor or damage the material. A common error made when cleaning fabric or mesh chairs. Avoid using bleach products altogether.

If you’re unsure whether the chemicals in the solution will harm the material or cushions, you can apply a small amount to the underside or an unseen area to test it.

If alcohol doesn’t remove the stain or is too harsh for your office chair, you can try using a portable upholstery/carpet cleaner.

These products typically have different instructions for various materials, giving you more control over spot cleaning versus deep cleaning.

Wash and Dry

For office chairs that recommend washing the material (the care tag will have a W or S/W indicator), adding water should be your last step after vacuuming and spot treatment. Be sure the spot treatment or carpet cleaner has dried first.

Start by mixing a few drops of dish soap into a bowl or spray bottle full of warm water. You’ll either wet a cloth in the bowl or spray directly onto the chair.

For older chairs that have more wear on them, it’s recommended to use a cloth so you can better control how saturated the material becomes.

To rinse afterward, you can use a small amount of warm water on almost any kind of office chair material.

The difference is in how much to use. When cleaning mesh or fabric chairs, be careful not to oversaturate the cushions because it will be more difficult to dry.

Similar to the spot treatment, start in an inconspicuous spot to test how the material reacts to being washed.

While it’s more common in couches, some fabric office chairs have a darker colored lining that will discolor the cover if oversaturated.

The Extra Mile

If you’re looking to deep clean your office chair, you can also get to work on scrubbing down the arms, legs, and wheels. If these don’t have fabric on them, it may seem a little tedious to add an extra step.

But keeping these clean can add to the longevity of your office chair’s useful lifespan.

Using a can of condensed air can remove any clogged dirt in the wheel or leg end crevices.

If there are any substances stuck, use tweezers or a thin knife to dislodge the mess. On some chairs, you’ll be able to take apart the wheels for easier access.

If you have an office chair with a wooden frame, you can invest in the wood polish that is applied with a spare cloth.

If your office chair happens to be an antique or needs special care, it’s important to contact a professional for maintenance.

Keeping Your Office Chair Clean

Performing regular maintenance on your office chair is an important step in extending its usefulness.

While this primarily consists of regularly wiping it down or vacuuming any mess, preventative measures can be taken to reduce your cleaning time.

  • Using Covers and Protector Spray: Adding a chair cover or using protective spray will help prevent stains. Certain protector sprays are designed for different office chair materials. Chair covers will come in all shapes and sizes to cover any variation.
  • Reduce Eating and Drinking At Your Desk: Eating at your desk can become a common habit to slip into when in the middle of a project or crunching deadlines. But to reduce spills and mess, there’s almost no better method than prevention.
  • Cleaning Mess As it Happens: In order to prevent a mess from staining the material of your office chair, immediately grab a towel or napkin to dab (not rub) space. After, wet another cloth or napkin to soak up any more of the spill.

When adhering to these general guidelines and habits, you can cut down the amount of time spent cleaning your office chair.

While you’ll still need to regularly dust and vacuum the seat and backing, you’ll only need to wash it about once a month.

It’s important to regularly clean your office chair, not only to keep your workspace cleaner but for your health.

The office chair collects more than just dirt and crumbs – your sweat, bacteria, and hair also get into the cracks and are absorbed into the material.


While the time and effort put into the task will depend on the type of office chair you own, it’s entirely possible to clean it.

Regular maintenance and care are crucial for extending the life of your equipment.

It’s quick, easy, and can make your office hours more comfortable.

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