How to Clean an Office Chair

Did you know that upholstered furniture manufacturers provide a cleaning code somewhere on the back of the office chair?

Cleaning the upholstery is not as easy as it sounds. Firstly, you need a proper cleanser and then have to employ the right method to make sure the stain or the dirt is completely removed. You don’t want to make matters worse by spreading the stain to other parts of the fabric. So, which cleaning method is right for you?

Here are the four general cleaning codes you may see on the back of your office chair.

Wet (W) – The cleaning code W indicates that you need to use a water-based cleansing agent to clean the office chair. 

Solvent (S) – Upholstery coming with a chair in this category cannot be washed with water. Please do not risk your investment by wiping it with a cloth dipped in tap water. Solvent-based cleaners like acetone, toluene, and trichloroethylene (TCE) work well with delicate and tender fibers. 

Wet cleaning or Solvent cleaning (WS) – Office chairs falling in the WS category can be cleaned with either water-based or solvent-based cleaner. You are required to pick one cleanser based on the area of the chair where dirt is settled.

No cleaning required (X) – Office chairs with the cleaning code X are not to be cleaned with a fluid. Most manufacturers recommend washing off the dust and grime on the upholstery with a vacuum cleaner.

I hope you will now be able to make sense of the cleaning codes provided by your office chair manufacturer. The jargon used in this industry is not that difficult to grasp as the names of each of the cleaning codes themselves implies their respective meaning. 

So, how to clean an office chair? Let’s have a look at the several cleaning methods you can use. 

How Do You Clean Fabric Chairs: 3 Effective Cleaning Methods

Knowing how to clean fabric chair, and which fabric cleaner for chairs is the best is important to keep them looking new.

1) Water-Based Cleaning

Water-based cleaners are the ones which contain water as the primary solvent. They may or may not include other active substances like mild soap, detergent, herbal soap, etc. In technical terms, a water-based cleanser is nothing but an “aqueous solution.”

An office chair with the cleaning code W can be cleaned with a water-based solution. Generally, these chairs are coated with a fabric made from synthetic material. Gaming chairs, couches, and some high-back office chairs are upholstered with synthetic material.

To clean office furniture with a water-based solution, you will need a vessel, half-filled with water and some mild soap (you can also use herbal soap if your skin is sensitive to chemicals). Add a few drops of soap in the water and mix well. 

Dampen a soft cloth with the solution and get rid of the stain or dirt present on the surface of the fabric. If it is the stain or a spot (due to spillage of sauce, soup, or paint), make sure not to rub the affected area. Pat the stain/stains with the damp cloth and let it get moistened. Once the fabric absorbs water, you can clean it gently with a clean and dry cloth.

2) Solvent-Based Cleaning

Adding to what we have already discussed, solvent-based cleaners are organic compounds, hydrocarbons, and alcohols used popularly as purifying agents in manufacturing plants. They work great for fabric chair cleaning too. 

According to a report by TechSpary, solvent-based cleaners work by dissolving the soil. The solvent breaks the dust bits or stains into smaller particles, and as a result, they break contact with the fabric and come off quickly. This chair fabric cleaner works instantaneously. There is no waiting period.

How do I choose the best solvent-based cleanser? 

Well, there are five types of solvent-based solutions: 

  1. Alkaline
  2. Acidic
  3. Neutral
  4. Degreasers
  5. Scouring agents

Depending on the fabric and type of stain or dirt, you can pick any one of them. 

Ordinarily, Alkaline cleaning agents and Degreasers are used for removing stains, oil, paint marks, etc. from upholstery. Unfortunately, a fabric chair cannot be dry cleaned. Dry cleaning only serves for chair cushions. 

3) Vacuum Cleaning

A vacuum cleaner is a device that uses suction to capture the dust particles or debris present on upholstery. The dry dirt is collected in a dustbag, and there is no chance of spillage causing damage to other parts of the upholstery. 

For home use, the modern cyclonic vacuum cleaner works best with upholstery, whereas you can carry a lightweight hand-held vacuum cleaner to work if you wish to freshen up the office chair at your workplace. 

However, a vacuum cleaning of the chair is only a viable option for general cleaning or freshening up the office furniture. It does not remove stains or spots from the fabric.

In addition, modern cyclonic vacuum cleaners come with a variety of attachments. For cleaning the fabric of an office chair, dusting brush, crevice tool, and upholstery nozzle are quite helpful. These attachments make it easy for you to clean the hard-to-reach areas of the chair. You can also clean the wheelbase with the dusting brush.

However, for the total sanitization of your fabric office chair, it is recommended to clean the non-fabric parts with a sponge dipped in soap water. It is safe to clean the plastic or metal frame with a damp sponge.  

How Do You Clean Chair Cushions?

If the cushion is detachable from the office chair, dry cleaning can also be a viable option. Whether you wish to freshen up the cushions, remove a stain, or sterilize the fabric, a liquid solvent called Tetrachloroethylene (also known as “perc”) can take care of it. Perc is the primary solvent used in the dry cleaning process. 

However, it is not possible to carry out solvent-based dry cleaning at home. You need to find an excellent laundry service that knows how to clean washable cushions using a Dry Cleaning machine. 

So, how do I clean my cushions at home?

  • You will need a scrub brush, a bowl, some tap water, and mild liquid soap. 
  • Fill the bowl with water and add a few drops of liquid soap in it. Mix well. 
  • Dip the scrub brush in the home-made upholstery cleaning solution and rub it all over the cushion. 

Don’t worry about the cushion coming in contact with water. Unless the cushion material comes in the X or S category, you can wash it with water.  

The above method can successfully remove food stains, dirt, toothpaste stains, pen marks, paint, etc. It will make your office chair appear as good as new. However, if your chair comes in the X or S category, it would be best to use “rubbing alcohol” to remove the stains and a vacuum cleaner for regular cleaning and maintenance.

How Do You Remove Period Stains From Office Chairs?

Did your period make a surprise appearance and you ended up with period blood stains on the office chair? 

Blood Stains on upholstery are the most difficult to get rid of. Especially if you do not notice it immediately and take action to remove it while the fabric is still wet, if you have found yourself in such a situation, there are ways in which you can make the stain disappear quickly. I have listed the best method below.

Use Quick N Brite Cleaning Paste

Quick N Brite is a cleaning paste used popularly to remove stains from carpets, clothes, upholstery, and floor. You can buy it online or from the nearest hardware store. 

  • Get started by slightly moistening the stain with a damp cloth or a sponge. Do not rub the stain as it would damage the fabric even more. 
  • Next, once the stain and the area encircling it is sufficiently wet, apply some Quick N Brite cleaning paste on the affected area. 
  • Rub the stain with your finger or a scrub brush. 
  • Within a minute of rubbing, you will notice the stain coming off without leaving any traces behind. 

This is the best way to remove period blood stains from upholstery.


I wished there was one fool-proof way to clean office chairs. There are a lot of factors you need to consider before freshening up or removing a stain from the upholstery. First, you need to look for the laundry code, then choose the right cleaning method, and then execute it as instructed in this post. Comment below and let me know if you have any additional questions. 

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