You use the chairs in your office every day, and they’re bound to get dirty whether you want them to or not. To ensure that your chairs stay looking their best year after year, take these tips for the regular cleaning and maintenance of all upholstery types.
Whether you’re caring for your personal office chair or the seats in your company’s waiting room, follow these guidelines for cleaning all upholstery types:
Always test cleaning techniques on an inconspicuous spot first. This can be the bottom of the chair, the back of it or anywhere else that doesn’t show. Just make sure that you test an unseen spot before you try a new cleaning method on the whole chair. Even if you’re only using a mild soap, you never know how certain substances might react with your specific chair. Testing a hidden spot first will ensure that you don’t damage an important part of the furniture.
Remove stains immediately. The longer a stain sits, the harder it is to remove. Do yourself a favor and clean it up now.
If using a cleaning agent that has a strong scent or chemical smell, only clean in a well ventilated area.
Always check your chair for a tag with cleaning instructions. We will outline basic cleaning methods in this guide, but most manufacturers provide specific cleaning instructions right on the chair. Unsure of what those letters on the tag stand for? Let’s break it down:
-- “W” is for water. This chair can be cleaned using water and water-based cleaners.
-- “S” is for solvent. This means that your chair should be cleaned with a water-free product such as dry cleaning solvents.
-- “C” is for Crypton fabrics often used in healthcare settings. Remove these stains with straight water or specialized Crypton upholstery cleaner.
-- “X” is for NO! Do not attempt to clean this chair on your own, as these chairs must be professionally cleaned.
Fabric upholstery can usually be cleaned using water-based cleaning agents or water-free solvents (code W, WS or SW). First, vacuum up any crumbs that may be hiding in cracks and crevasses. If you don’t have a vacuum cleaner handy, this can also be accomplished with a can of compressed air. Next, mix a few drops of mild soap in a bucket of water. Using a soft, lint-free cloth, wipe this on your test spot first. If it looks good, wipe down the entire chair, then use a second lint-free cloth to wipe dry.
Genuine leather upholstery can be cleaned in one of three ways: with store bought leather cleaner, with vinegar and linseed oil or with rubbing alcohol and water. For a more detailed description of how to clean and maintain a leather office chair, read more here.
Faux Leather and vinyl are easier to care for than the real thing. In many cases, faux leather and vinyl can be cleaned using water-based cleaners in the same manner as fabric upholstery, and many vinyl options can even be cleaned with bleach solutions. Be sure to double check the tag on your chair for any special instructions to ensure that no damage is done.
Mesh chairs should be vacuumed on a regular basis, as crumbs can tend to get caught within all those little spaces. Any remaining dirt or stains can be removed using a damp cloth, but do not drag the cloth across the mesh, as this can cause the material to fray. Instead, dab any problem areas until clean.
Plastic chairs can be cleaned with soap and water, but be careful to avoid using chlorine or bleach as these can damage the material. For stains, dampen a soft cloth with white distilled vinegar and wipe. Baking soda on a wet sponge can also create a mild abrasive that will eat away stains without damaging your plastic.
Crypton fabric is most commonly found in healthcare facilities due to its ability to ward off harmful stains, moisture, mildew and bacteria. Mix one teaspoon of an enzyme-based detergent with 16 ounces of water in a spray bottle. Dab wet spills with a dry towel without rubbing. Next, spray your detergent and water solution over the spot and rub gently with a soft brush. Dab again with a dry towel and rinse with warm water.
IC+ upholstery solution is a coating specially formulated for intensive-use healthcare environments, including emergency rooms. IC+ is highly durable ad impermeable to prevent the spread of bacteria and bed bugs. To clean, use any hospital-grade detergent or disinfectant, including bleach, Rescue, Wex-Cide, CaviCide and Virox 5. IC+ is great at standing up to harsh cleaners.
Wood framework needs cleaning too! Regularly wipe down your wood framed chair with a dry lint-free cloth. For deeper cleaning, choose a wood polish and apply to the wood frame in small amounts using a cloth. Like with your upholstery, you’ll want to test out your polish on an inconspicuous area before going over the whole thing.
Metal framework is relatively maintenance free and can be wiped down with a damp cloth with or without mild soap.
Need more advice on keeping your chairs clean? Call our furniture experts at (800) 558-1010 and shop our full selection of office chairs.