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The Complete Guide to Cleaning Your Office Chair

The Complete Guide to Cleaning Your Office Chair

Office Supermarket — How to Clean a Desk Chair

Research has shown that a clean, tidy work area can have a positive impact on your productivity levels. Most people take steps to keep their office desks clean, but many have to ask how to clean fabric chairs.

Following a global pandemic, the need to maintain a hygienic working environment is greater than ever. You can make an office chair more comfortable by making it cleaner and more hygienic. That’s why we’ve put together a few tips on how to clean an office chair.

Recommended Cleaning Materials

Whether you have your own stash of cleaning supplies or share them with colleagues, there are a few must-have items you should always have access to:


  • Microfibre cloths
  • Absorbent sponges
  • Chamois leather cloths
  • Dishwashing detergent
  • Stain remover
  • Alcohol wash
  • A toothbrush for accessing nooks and crannies
  • A sanitiser solution


If you have all of these items, you’ll always be able to keep your office chair clean and react quickly to spillages. When you’re addressing office interior design, don’t forget to plan a space for essential cleaning supplies. And locate them centrally, so they’re easily accessible to everyone.

How Long Does it Take to Clean a Desk Chair?

If you’re going to clean your office chair, you might as well do it thoroughly. You’ll need to clean the seating area, back, arms, feet castors and any crevices that might harbour dirt, debris and bacteria. That’s why it’s a good idea to dedicate at least 20 minutes to the task. If you clean your office chair at least once a month, the process should be quicker and easier.

Cleaning Different Office Chair Types

Knowing how to clean an upholstered chair is great, but different kinds of chairs require different approaches.

Mesh Desk Chair

Mesh may be a little more fragile than other materials such as faux leather and plastic. That’s why a more gentle approach is necessary. All you’ll need is some hot, soapy water and a microfibre cloth. Gently clean the mesh in sections, using a circular cleaning motion. Be gentle and patient throughout the process, and don’t use any abrasive materials or caustic cleaning agents. The material used in some mesh desk chairs may rip when it’s subjected to excessive cleaning.

Plastic Desk Chair

A plastic office chair is probably the easiest to clean. Hot, soapy water and a clean cloth should do the bulk of the work. You can afford to use a little extra force while cleaning. And if you’re struggling with a stain or a sticky mess, you should be able to use a dishwashing scourer to remove it.

Fabric Desk Chair

Ask most office managers how to clean an office chair with fabric, and they probably won’t have an answer for you. But the process is actually straightforward. You should always start with some hot, soapy water and a microfibre cloth. However, an absorbent sponge works just as well. Gently clean the fabric using small, circular motions.


If you come across a particularly stubborn stain, a little alcohol wash or spray might shift it. Otherwise, you may have to turn to a commercial stain remover. The faster you clean fabric office chairs after a mishap, the greater the chance of success.


Tip: If you’re struggling to clean a dirty and smelly upholstered chair, clean it using the method described above — then cover the fabric in bicarbonate of soda. Leave it overnight to absorb unwanted odours, and vacuum the powder the next day. Your chair should be left smelling and looking fresh.

Leather Desk Chair

In most cases, hot-soapy water applied with a microfibre cloth will be sufficient for leather office chairs. However, if you need to remove stains, try a leather saddle soap or something similar. You can also use a solution of water and cleaning alcohol in equal parts to shift stubborn stains and accumulations.

Desk Chair With Wood Accents

In normal circumstances, hot, soapy water and a microfibre cloth will be all you need to clean treated wood. Just be sure not to soak the wood. Dampen a clean cloth with your water and dishwashing liquid solution, and gently rub the wood in small, circular motions. It’s best not to clean wood with chemicals, however, as they can destroy the coatings that protect wood from water damage.

How to Clean Desk Chair Castors

If you can remove the desk chair castors, it’s probably a good idea. As long as they’re made with stainless steel and plastic, you can soak them in hot, soapy water for a few hours and wipe them clean afterwards. If you can’t remove them, use a small brush to scrub them. And if you need to remove accumulations and dirt from crevices, a toothbrush should do the job. Disassemble the castors to make the job a little easier, and pick out small items of debris with a set of tweezers.

Keep Your Chair Clean for Longer

If you know how to clean fabric chairs properly, you should be able to prolong their useful lifespans. But the chair itself must be of a high standard and built to last. As well as a strict cleaning schedule, there are a few other ways to ensure your office chair stands the test of time.

Clean Up Spills Fast

One of the worst things you can do after a spillage on an office chair is to “leave it until later”. The faster you act, the greater the chance of avoiding stains and more complex cleaning jobs later.


Many of us now eat and drink at our desks. Such is the pressure to deliver on time at work, we multitask, eat lunch at our keyboards and drink lots of tea, coffee and carbonated drinks. It’s therefore not surprising that spillages, crumbs and stickiness are cutting short the natural lifespan of office chairs in the UK.


Always be ready to act fast when that cup of piping hot coffee you love every morning ends up covering your office chair. Have a few emergency items at your desk to ensure you can clean up spillages immediately:


  • Absorbent paper towels
  • A spray bottle filled with water and dishwashing liquid
  • A microfibre cloth
  • Alcohol wash
  • Bicarbonate of soda


A huge part of how to clean fabric chairs involves clearing up the excess first and then absorbing as much of the liquid as possible. Bicarbonate of soda is great for drawing up moisture from deep within fabric and preventing odours before they take hold.

Avoid Having Food on Desk

Organize your desk space in a way that ensures there’s a dedicated place for everything. But make sure that you never store or eat food at your desk. While this is a common practice these days, it’s asking for trouble when it comes to bacteria, mess and stains.

Make a commitment to spending lunch and breaks away from your desk. Whether you go to the office canteen or head to your local coffee shop, always eating away from your desk will ensure your chair — and the rest of your workspace — is never affected by spillages, crumbs and sticky messes.

Use a Protection Spray or Cream

Once you know how to clean fabric chairs, you should be able to maximise the lifespan of your office chair. But you never know when the next mishap might strike. So it might be a good idea to protect your fabric with a spray or cream.


Choosing an office chair that doesn’t include fabric should minimise the cleaning and maintenance required. However, nothing beats the comfort and warmth of fabric. So if you do go for a fabric option, choose a water-based protection spray that guards against stains, odours, discolouration and general wear and tear.

Keep Chair Out of Direct Sunlight

Ultraviolet light can, over time, cause leather, fabric, wood and certain types of fabric to lose their colour. So if your office chair is next to a window, you might need to think about using blinds or curtains to protect your office chair against direct sunlight. Or you can simply move your chair away from the area altogether.

Time to Replace Your Desk Chair?

If you know how to clean fabric chairs, you can extend the lifetime of your office seat considerably. But even with regular maintenance, every office chair will eventually reach the end of the road. You need to know when that time has come, as sitting for extended periods of time in a dirty or damaged desk chair can have a negative impact on your health, wellbeing and productivity.


Here are the telltale signs it’s time to replace your desk chair:


  • Holes or tears in the fabric or leather
  • Stains you can’t remove with professional stain removal products
  • Broken wheels or castors
  • Serious discolouration
  • Greasy accumulations that won’t respond to cleaning
  • An awkward or inappropriate seating position
  • Office chair embarrassment (it happens to us all!)


If you’ve decided it’s time for a new office chair, the Office Supermarket has hundreds of fantastic options to choose from. If you’re looking for ergonomic desk chairs, for example, the Maxi Ergo Office Chair with Lumbar Pump is ideal. Designed to adapt to your body shape, this premium product is available in black, charcoal and blue.

If you want an elegant office chair that’s easy to clean, the Montana Executive Leather Chair is ideal. This statement item features a plush seat, a padded backrest and a chrome knee-tile mechanism. And because it’s made with premium grade leather, it’s relatively easy to clean and maintain.


For the perfect combination of manoeuvrability, comfort and style, a mesh office chair is ideal. Take the Chachi Mesh Office Chair, for example. Complete with raised armrests and an ergonomic headrest, this quality product looks great — but it also offers comfort in all the right place. And because the mesh is lightweight and hardwearing, it’s relatively easy to clean.


How do you clean a smelly office chair?

The first thing to do is remove any excess debris, spillage or accumulations. If the chair is quite old, the chances are the odour is coming from deep within the fabric or stuffing. Once you’re confident the chair is clean, cover the fabric with bicarbonate of soda and leave it overnight. Then vacuum the powder from the surface and spray a light mist of water and your favourite essential oil over the chair.

Why do mesh chairs get so dusty?

Mesh chairs are great at keeping you cool and comfortable at the same time. But there’s a downside. Because mesh consists of many tiny surfaces, crevices and gaps, there’s more surface area for dust to settle on. That’s why regular cleaning and dusting are essential.

How do you clean non-removable chair cushions?

If you know how to clean fabric chairs, you can easily turn your hand to cleaning non-removable chair cushions. In most cases, all you need is a sponge or microfibre cloth and some hot, soapy water. Gently rub the solution into the dirty areas of the cushion before leaving it to air dry.


It’s important to give the chair lots of time and ventilation before you use it again. Sitting on it while it’s still damp may lead to more odours and mould over time. If you can, take the chair outside to dry. Otherwise, open a window and give your chair the time it needs to dry fully.

How do you clean a chair without a steam cleaner?

 Cleaning an office chair without a steam cleaner is relatively easy. Hot soapy water, a sponge and a little elbow grease will do the bulk of the work. Unlike steam, however, a damp cloth will leave damp patches on fabric. That’s why ventilation and time are so important. Give your chair the chance to dry out completely before using it again. You can speed up the process by taking the chair outside in the fresh air or using fans to increase airflow.




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