How to clean an office chair
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How to clean an office chair

Jun 14, 2023

When it comes to choosing the best office chair there are lots of things to consider. However, one of the most frequently overlooked aspects of owning an office chair is just how durable it’ll be. After all, you spend a lot of time sitting on it, so why shouldn't an office chair be able to cope with everything you throw at it? That seems to be the thinking of many workers, but it shouldn't be.

Spend enough money on a quality office chair and you will probably get plenty of durability, but it’ll still need a clean from time to time. In fact, regular upkeep of your preferred seating spot should mean that you get much more life out of it. And, if you’ve spent a decent amount of money on it, that counts for a lot. So read on for some practical insights on how to clean your office chair.

It's amazing just how grubby your workplace can become, especially if you tend to work long hours rather than part-time. Spend anything more than a few hours a day sitting on your office chair and it’ll start to need a basic clean fairly early on. Basic dust and grime is easily spotted and the best starting point on this front is to get out the vacuum cleaner.

If you’ve got an office chair that has a straightforward design you can probably get away without using any of the attachments. Using just the hose part of your vacuum will enable you to get rid of lots of the everyday stuff, like dust, hair and those food crumbs that seem to get everywhere alongside filling your keyboard. For a more meticulous dust down with the vacuum it's worthwhile digging out the accessories, with a soft brush head often proving to be the most useful.

On a related note; if you’ve got a vacuum that can reverse its thrust, this can be a great way of blowing out a lot of surface dust in folds and corner. Though this is best done outside for obvious reasons.

It might seem obvious, but alongside using your vacuum cleaner to get rid of the more easily seen dust and dirt, a good wipe down can be really beneficial for your office chair. Of course, doing this all depends on what type of material your chair has been made of, but you can get away with a damp or moistened cloth in a lot of scenarios.

If you’ve bought an office chair from a reputable supplier there should probably be care and conditioning instructions inside a leaflet or perhaps online. Usefully, if it's a decent make and model, the chair will also have a cleaning code in letters that let you know what can be used on the material.

If you’ve tried the first couple of steps, which should be fine for a fairly youthful office chair that hasn't seen too much use, but things still don't look great it's time to move on. A deeper clean can be done using some mild soap and water used very sparingly. Remember that some office chairs, especially those fashioned from cheaper synthetic coverings, can probably be tackled more easily than those made with delicate, luxurious finishes.

A quality microfiber cloth can be a real boon, once it has been moistened, for getting into the folds and corners of an office chair. Little and often is the way to get best results, without hammering the surfaces of your office chair. The same cloth can also be great for bringing back the shine to seat frames and bases. While you’re at it, maybe treat any moving parts of a little lubricant, which should be flagged up in any paperwork that came with your office chair.

If you’ve had your office chair for a while it may have suffered from the effects of food and drink, with spills and accidents almost impossible to avoid over time. If you’ve got a smallish stain then a little bit of rubbing alcohol or laundry detergent can prove useful. More stubborn stains might require a more potent cleaner, but vinegar is quite useful if you don't want to go to the expense of buying a dedicated stain-removing product.

However, if you’ve got a pricier model of office chair then it's a good idea to spoil it once in a whole and treat it to something off the shelf at your local hardware suppliers. Depending on the materials used to create your office chair you might also be able to try steam cleaning some areas. Again though, the crucial point to remember is to check what sort of technique is compatible with any material. Different types of materials obviously respond in different ways, so take your time.

If everything listed above doesn't seem to have made much different to your office chair then it may be time to start thinking about contacting a professional. Upholstery specialist can often get better results in much less time, so what might seem like an indulgence might turn out to be the best course of action.

We’re all time poor these days, so spending a weekend trying to resurrect your tired old office chair might not be a productive use of your time. Besides, pick the right specialist and the chances are your beloved office chair will be returned to you looking better than new.

How you clean your office chair will also depend on what it's made of and the materials that have been used in its construction. Remember to check any instructions or owners leaflets to get best advice on office chairs that are made with specialist materials. Similarly, be sure not to use harsh cleaners or aggressive techniques on more delicate materials.

Even leather, while it is a hard-wearing material, can be susceptible to scratches or discolouring if cleaned in the wrong way. If you’re not sure, try cleaning a small area that's hidden out of sight, such as the underside of your chair, where any marks or blemishes will not be visible to the naked eye.

Rob Clymo has been a tech journalist for more years than he can actually remember, having started out in the wacky world of print magazines before discovering the power of the internet. Since he's been all-digital he has run the Innovation channel during a few years at Microsoft as well as turning out regular news, reviews, features and other content for the likes of TechRadar, TechRadar Pro, Tom's Guide, Fit&Well, Gizmodo, Shortlist, Automotive Interiors World, Automotive Testing Technology International, Future of Transportation and Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International. In the rare moments he's not working he's usually out and about on one of numerous e-bikes in his collection.

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