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How to Clean a Fabric Office or Desk Chair

As comfortable as fabric office chairs are to sit on, they can be a real challenge to clean. Fabric office chairs aren’t like our upholstered chairs at home which can be steam cleaned with an upholstery attachment on a rented Rug Doctor. Office chairs require special handling slightly different to a computer gaming chair, and scrubbing them down with soap and water may damage the upholstery and rust the metal parts. Before trying to clean your office chair, you should first look for the manufacturers cleanability code. This code is usually found beneath the seat and refers to the color fastness of the dyes used in the upholstery. If your chair is not marked with cleaning instructions, a good rule of thumb to follow is if the upholstery is made of at least 50% cotton, then it is not safe to self clean. Office chairs that are made of synthetic materials (such as polyester) are usually safe to clean.

Before attempting to clean your fabric chair with any of these methods, it’s always wise to test first for color fastness on a discreet part of the chair.

Foam upholstery cleaner

The makers of Woolite laundry soap also make a fabric and upholstery cleaner that both cleans, deodorizes, and freshens soiled fabrics. For chairs that are incredibly smelly, a product like Woolite is a great way to both clean the fabric and remove bad odors.

To use, carefully dampen the fabric with a rag, taking care not to soak the material. Carefully spray the chair with Woolite Fabric amp; Upholstery Cleaner, and wipe gently with a clean, damp rag. Blot out the excess moisture with a dry towel and repeat until the chair is clean.

Home made shampoo

If your budget won’t allow you to purchase upholstery cleaner in a can, making your own shampoo is another alternative. A little bit of Dawn dish detergent mixed in a small bowl of warm water is a great all purpose cleaner for chairs that can be cleaned with water.

Apply your homemade shampoo to the upholstery sparingly, using a damp rag. Instead of scrubbing up and down, it’s best to apply the shampoo in a blotting, circular motion. Blot up the soap with a clean, but damp rag. Continue rinsing in this method until all the soap has been removed. Blot the area dry with a towel.


For fabric office or desk chairs that must be cleaned with a solvent, upholstery solvent-type cleaners are available at most grocery, home improvement or discount department stores. These products come in either liquid or spray form, and should be applied following the instructions as written on the can. Solvent cleaners are easy to use, and are recommended for removing stains on dry clean only fabrics.