How to Clean an Office Chair

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The hardworking office chair may be one of the most neglected items in office maintenance and cleaning. Cleaning the chair regularly, such as every three to six months -- especially if you share the seat with a coworker -- keeps it looking good and providing the support you need to get your work done.

Office Chair Cleaning

Things You'll Need

  • Dropcloth or plastic sheet
  • Canned compressed air
  • Vacuum cleaner with brush and crevice attachments
  • All-purpose cleaner and paper towels or microfiber cloth
  • Scrub brush
  • Dull knife
  • Rubbing alcohol and cotton balls or swabs
  • Lubricant spray

Step 1: Set Up

Spread a dropcloth or plastic sheet under the office chair. Blow out the dirt from the chair's joints and movable parts using a can of compressed air, the type used for cleaning computer keyboards and other electronics. Be sure to follow the product's safety instructions.

Step 2: Vacuum Thoroughly

Vacuum the entire chair from top to bottom to remove surface dust and dirt. Use a hose or hand-held vacuum with a brush attachment. Attach the crevice tool to get into the space where the seat back joins the seat.

Step 3: Clean the Wheels

Turn the chair over so you can clean the wheels, making sure it is firmly supported by the seat and back. Use the crevice tool on your vacuum to remove debris caught inside the wheels. Use a surface cleaner and paper towels or microfiber cloth as needed to remove caked-on dirt from the outside of the wheels. Sometimes a scrub brush or dull knife is helpful to scrape dirt off the wheels. Finish by wiping down the wheels with rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball. Use cotton swabs with rubbing alcohol to clean inside the narrow parts of the wheel.

Step 4: Wipe Down

Turn the chair upright and wipe down the arms, back and other non-fabric parts with an all-purpose surface cleaner and paper towels or microfiber cloth. Spot-treat any stains on the fabric with an appropriate stain-removal product; you can also clean the fabric surface by wiping it with a barely damp microfiber cloth.

To clean the seat and back of mesh office chairs, dip a sponge in warm, soapy water and ring it out well. Wipe down the mesh parts of the chair. Remove the soap by wiping it again with a clean sponge wrung out in plain water.

Step 5: Make Final Adjustments

Adjust tension wheels and other settings on your chair as needed to keep it comfortable. The mesh on a mesh chair can often be adjusted separately; this may need to be done every few months. Lubricate the wheels and other moving parts as needed to keep them operating properly.

Deodorizing an Office Chair

When your chair is new, it may have that new-chair smell that some people find disturbing. Usually the "new" odor dissipates in a week or so, but you may be able to speed it up with one of these tricks:

  • Give your chair a day off by placing it outside in the fresh air.
  • Indoors, place an air purifier next the chair and leave it operating over the weekend. Or, preferably in a well-ventilated space, set up a fan to blow directly on the chair.  
  • Make a home-made deodorizer by mixing 1 cup of baking soda in a jar with a few drops of essential oil, such as lavender or cinnamon. Cap the jar and shake well. Sprinkle the mixture over the fabric parts of the chair and let it stand for 15 minutes; then vacuum to remove the baking soda. This is also a good way to freshen an older chair that smells a bit "off."
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