Office chairs get dirty. Whether you’ve spilled your coffee in your lap or had a particularly sloppy jelly donut, the odds are that your once pristine office chair cushion is not as immaculate as it used to be.
For people without a lot of upholstery cleaning experience, this can seem like a permanent situation.
It doesn’t have to be. In this article, we’ll outline the tips you need to make your office chair look brand new.
Guide to Cleaning an Office Chair
In this section, we will detail a step-by-step process for getting your office chair cushion clean.
Read on to the following section for tips and recommendations for maintaining a clean office chair cushion.
Step One: Check the chair’s label
If your office chair is made from upholstery or another fabric, it probably came with cleaning instructions.
You can find these in the assembly instructions for the chair. If you don’t have the box, it can also have a sticker with directions on the back or Google your chair model.
You’ll want to look for the type of cleaning the chair needs: S or W. With an S type chair, you will use a solvent (chemical) based solution for cleaning, while the W means you can use a water-based solution.
You can also have chairs that have SW or S/W, which means either solution will work.
Step Two: Remove any loose particles
Just like when you’re cleaning a floor, the first step to cleaning a chair cushion is to get rid of all the crumbs and dust.
If you don’t remove these things as the first step, they will get washed in moisture and stuck within the fabric when you start using a liquid.
The best way to do this step is with a handheld vacuum. Turn on the machine and pass over the cushion’s surface as if you’re mowing a lawn. Then take the vacuum into that easy-to-miss crack between the pillow and the back of the chair.
If you don’t have a handheld vacuum, you can also try a dustpan and hand broom.
Step Three: Remove the cushion (if possible)
The best way to ensure your cushion gets a complete cleaning is to remove it from the chair entirely. If you don’t have a removable cushion, then try disassembling the chair so that you can isolate the seat.
This will allow you to get the edges of the cushion and even clean the underneath part. It will also make your life easier because the cushion will be easier to manipulate, and you can place it on a desk or flat surface for extra stability.
Step Four: Clean using the proper solvent
Using the correct solvent will make the difference between a clean chair and a ruined one. The care labels are an essential part of making your chair last a long time, so if you buy a new one, make sure you keep this label intact.
For S Type Chairs
S-type chairs require a solvent-based solution for cleaning, which usually comes from dry cleaning chemicals.
You can find many different dry cleaning chemical manufacturers (both liquids and powders) online. Always check the instructions on the bottle before use.
For chairs of this type, any kind of water getting on them will ruin the upholstery. You can use the solvent on the whole cushion or just to specific stains. Either way, apply the solvent to a cloth first before using it on the chair to avoid oversaturation.
Once you finish with the solvent, you’ll want to use a damp cloth to remove any remaining chemicals. Otherwise, they will leave a stain of their own.
For W Type Chairs
W-type chairs require a lot less effort. We recommend getting an excellent empty spray bottle and filling it with nine parts water and one dish soap. You can then spray the chair with the mixture, focusing on either specific spots and stains or the cushion as a whole.
Be considerate of the amount of water you spray on the cushion. Over-saturating the cushion will take it a long time to dry and can leave a lingering odor. You should only spray enough to create a light mist on the surface of the cushion.
Step Five: Dry your cushion
Most office chair cushions have a hard foundation, so they won’t fit in your dry or your washing machine. The first step in drying your cushion will be a dry paper towel or rag.
This will remove most of the moisture from the washing and prepare the chair for the second part.
Next, you should find a sunny space or a heater to place the cushion on. It will dry if you leave it in a damp, dark room, but slowly. This slow drying will lead to unwanted smell, and you’ll be without your chair for a long time.
It’s a lot easier to dry your cushion if you can remove it. If your cushion is undetachable, try to angle your chair so that the cushion is at least 45° from the floor so the liquid can drain.
It’s also possible that your cushion doesn’t have hard components and is machine washable. Check the cleaning label on your chair to find out.
Office Chair Cushion Cleaning Tips
The guide above isn’t the only way to get your cushion clean. Check out our other tips below.
Try to clean your chair with rubbing alcohol.
Rubbing alcohol can be a powerful cleaning tool and is much cheaper than most cleaning solutions. Be careful because too much can also stain or bleach your cushion.
To be safe, take a small rag or cotton ball, then put two or three drops on it and use it for specific stains on the chair.
If you’re not sure, your chair’s fabric will respond well to rubbing alcohol. You can always test it. Use the rag or cotton ball on an unseen part of the chair and see if any damage is caused. If not, you’re good to go.
You will want to avoid rubbing alcohol with any acrylic fabric upholstery and also anything made from mesh. The seams can get frayed and rip easily with mesh chairs, so rub them gently no matter the solution you’re using.
Wipe down and vacuum your whole chair once or twice a year
We often don’t realize it because they’re under our butts, but office chair upholstery can get really dusty, dirty, and even smelly.
These are the chairs that we sit in for hours on end five days a week, so it’s normal for some wear and tear to occur.
If you want a very clean chair, you can wipe it down every few months with a solution of soap and water. Use a mildly damp rag and dry it with a towel afterward. In a few hours, your chair will look good as new.
Also, be sure to vacuum the chair regularly, as crumbs and dust can get trapped inside quickly. You should probably vacuum your chair more often than you wipe it.
Put plastic on your cushion.
Putting plastic on your chair might not be the most comfortable solution.
It might even remind you of your grandma’s saran-wrapped couch. However, you can’t ignore how much easier it is to clean plastic than it is fabric.
You don’t need to use saran wrap either. You can buy a high-quality plastic coating and apply it to your chair cushion as well. All you have to do is remove the cushion and wrap it up while cutting holes for any necessary parts and connections.
Once it’s wrapped in plastic, cleaning your chair will only require a quick wipe down and drying whenever there’s a mess.
Cleaning the wheels, back, and armrests of your chair
Why stop at the cushion? There are several parts of your chair that can get just as dirty. Start with the wheels.
In the office (especially if you have a carpet), wheels can get filled with debris, crumbs, hair, and loads of other gross floor dwellers.
To keep your wheels cleaning and rolling smoothly, all you have to do is take a narrow object and scrape the wheels’ sides and where they connect to the arm. If you have some stubborn hairs here, you might also need a pair of scissors.
For the back of your chair, you can apply the same rules we listed in the guide. Just keep in mind that drying will require a different position for the chair, so you should probably do it separately from the cushion.
The armrests of your office chair can be plastic or fabric. If they’re plastic, then cleaning is easy.
Just take your favorite cleaning product, spray, and wipe. If they are made from material and have a cushion of their own, just follow the guide.
Your office chair doesn’t need to stay dirty. Follow the steps above and keep the tips in mind, and you’ll have the cleanest, shiniest chair in the office.
With only a few simple steps, you can learn how to clean an office chair cushion.
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- How to Dispose of an Office Chair (the responsible way)
- How to Make an Office Chair Less Squeaky
- How to Repair a Vinyl Office Chair Armrest
- How to Clean a Mesh Office Chair
- 8 Ways to Stop Office Chair from Ruining Your Carpet