Clean smells and odors out of office chairs using:
- Baking soda
- An upholstery cleaning machine
- Leather conditioner
- Commercial solvents
- A professional cleaning service
Learning where these smells and odors come from can help you address any recurrent issues.
Start by looking at your chair’s tag or manual to learn what you can use to clean it, then move on with the most comfortable method listed below.
You can combine methods to achieve a deeper clean.
How Office Chairs Accumulate Smells and Odors
The majority of smells and odors in your office chair come from:
The exception here is new office chairs that have a chemical smell.
This is a combination of odors accumulated from manufacturing, packaging, and the off-gassing of components. It should air out after a few days.
Moisture usually comes from sweat and humidity, but it can also be a problem if you spill your drink and fail to clean it promptly.
Too much moisture leads to mold and mildew, leading to a musty smell on your office chair.
Bacteria from body odor transfer and other contaminants can lead to similar odors, and you might notice an acidic smell from your office chair.
While maintaining proper hygiene can help limit these issues, you’ll still need to address smells and odors on your chair over time.
Checking the Office Chair Tag or Manual
Before you use any chemicals on your office chair, check the attached tag or chair manual.
This will provide instructions on how to clean smells and odors out of the chair in a manner that will not further damage the chair.
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Pay attention to these codes that clear certain solutions:
- W: water-based cleaners
- S: solvents (non-water-based)
- WS/SW: both water-based cleaners and solvents
- X: requires professional attention
- C: includes Crypton; requires special care
The instructions may also advise against certain methods listed ago, so pay close attention.
Vacuuming an Office Chair
Before you use any chemicals to clean your office chair, start by running a vacuum over the fabric.
Even if your chair is clear of visible dirt and debris, the vacuum will remove or dislodge particles that you cannot see.
Vacuuming the chair sets the chair up for the deepest possible clean, and it gives you a better chance at cleaning smells and odors.
The least-invasive method for cleaning smells and odors uses the power of the sun. This is also a great method for maintenance.
The sun’s ultraviolet rays work well to break down organic compounds in your chair, and a few hours in the sun can dry up moisture.
By addressing bacteria and moisture, you limit the cause of odors in your office chair.
Just make sure you don’t leave your chair sitting out in the sun for too long.
While direct sunlight is better than filtered light through the window, it can bleach the fabric and break down the plastic after a few days.
Not only is baking soda cheap and easy to find, but it works well at drawing smells and odors out of fabric.
Baking soda reacts with compounds known to cause odor, breaking them down so the issue cannot persist.
Make sure your office chair sits in an area you don’t mind cleaning up, then sprinkle a liberal amount of baking soda over the seat.
Take the time to get the baking soda onto any cracks or crevices that may cause problems.
Let the baking soda sit at least overnight, but ideally for a few days. This provides ample opportunity for the reactions to occur and rid the seat of odor-causing bacteria.
Vacuum up the powder and dust off anything left over.
Steam/ Upholstery Cleaner/ Wet Vacuuming
While steam cleaners, upholstery cleaners, and wet vacuums may use different processes to clean, they tackle odors in similar ways.
The point with these tools is to get your office chair to further dislodge any odor-causing particles, then use a strong vacuuming method to remove them.
Hot water works better than cold when tackling dirt and grime, but make sure your chair works with water-based cleaning methods.
Vinegar and Alcohol
You can use vinegar and alcohol in similar ways to clean smells and odors out of your office chair.
Start in a well-ventilated area, then use a spray bottle or clean cloth to dampen the seat and the back of the office chair.
Leave the chair in sunlight to help evaporate the vinegar or alcohol quickly, and the smell should dissipate in a few hours.
Vinegar and alcohol work well to wipe down office chairs, particularly leather, for quick and easy odor maintenance.
While leather is less prone to smells and odors, you still need an effective way of deep cleaning these office chairs.
Using a quality leather cleaner prevents cracking that creates more area for moisture and bacteria to remain.
It also preserves the overall appearance of the leather and helps you protect your investment.
Store-bought solutions are carefully crafted to properly penetrate surfaces like your office chair. Look for trusted brands such as:
You can even find dry cleaning solvents for chairs that cannot handle water or water-based cleaners.
Pay attention to the instructions on the package. These outline the best method for cleaning smells and odors from your office chair.
It’s in good practice to have your chair professionally cleaned every so often, even if it does not require a professional cleaner.
Find a professional cleaning service near you with experience deep cleaning office chairs. You can also have them tackle your office space at the same time to limit the smells in the area.
While professional cleaning is more expensive, it offers the best chance at deep cleaning your chair without the potential of causing damage.
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Masking Smells and Odors From Office Chairs
You can always use a deodorizing spray like Febreze to mask smells and odors from your office chair, but this method relies more on personal preference.
It’s best to use these products in conjunction with the cleaning method listed above. These sprays can provide a scent that you prefer, but they do little to get to the root of the problem.