How to Clean a Chair Cushion the Right Way

It’s easier to be productive and comfortable when your environment is nice and clean. But if you’ve recently noticed your office chair isn’t exactly shiny and new anymore, you may be wondering how you can restore it.

Cleaning an office chair cushion can seem risky depending on the upholstery material. So to properly clean your office chair, you first need to know what kind of upholstery you are dealing with and gather the proper materials. This is a guide to cleaning your office chair cushion so you can understand the best products to use, and when it’s time to call a professional.

Different Kinds of Chair Upholstery

Office chairs have different codes for the kind of material they use to help people understand how to clean them. So before you gather your materials, you need to figure out what kind of chair you will be cleaning.


A W-Coded chair should be spot cleaned with a water-based product, or just plain water and a cloth.


If a chair is S-Coded you should clean the furniture with a solvent or water-free product, like a dry-cleaning solvent or powdered mild soap.

SW-Coded or WS-Coded

The combination of both S and W in any order means you can use either water-based or a dry-cleaning product and it shouldn’t damage the chair’s upholstery.


The X means you should not try to clean it in any way. The item should be professionally cleaned or else it will likely be ruined.


C stands for Crypton cleaning. This material can be cleaned with plain water and a powdered enzyme detergent or the specialty Crypton upholstery cleaner.

What You Need

  • Handheld or lightweight vacuum
  • Swiffer or duster
  • Mild dishwashing soap
  • Spray bottle or small bowl
  • Rubbing alcohol or vinegar

How to Clean an Office Chair Cushion

Vacuum and Dust

Vacuum and dust the chair thoroughly. Use the duster to clean all of the hard surfaces like the legs and wheels. You may want to remove the wheels briefly to clean them thoroughly if there is a lot of hair or dust trapped in them.

Use the handheld vacuum for the softer surfaces to remove dust and dirt that has become stuck in the fabric. This would include the seat cushions of the chair, the back of the chair cushions, and armrests if they are cushioned.

Giving the seat cushion a little slap can show you how much dirt and debris are in the fabric when a cloud of dust escapes. Even if you have a leather chair cushion, this is an important step to get all the crumbs and specks out of the nooks and crannies of the chair.

Wipe Down the Chair Cushions

Using a damp cloth and plain water, wipe down the entire chair including soft and hard parts. This will remove any dirt sitting on the outside of the upholstery. To get in there, we recommend using a butter knife to loosen any dirt stuck in small places like the wheels.

What you use to wipe down the chair cushion depends on how the material is coded. You can refer to the second section of this article for what each code means for cleaning products. The majority of office chairs are coded w or SW so using water on them is completely fine.

Rinse and Dry

If you used a mild soap or powder detergent, then switch to plain water or a dry rag and remove as much as you can. The term ‘rinse’ may be excessive since you should not be dumping water on the chair at any time. Neglecting this step can lead to mildew growing on your chair cushion, which is bad for your health and the health of those around the chair.

After you have removed as much cleaning product as possible, use a damp microfiber cloth or paper towels. Gently pat the chair cushion dry; do not rub because this can damage the fabric of the chair cushion beyond repair.

Spot Treatment

Using lukewarm water, never hot and never cold, dap a microfiber cloth and pat any areas affected with stubborn stains. Depending on the code of the chair cushion material, use vinegar or rubbing alcohol to dab out the stain.

You may want to spray the vinegar or rubbing alcohol gently from the spray bottle and let it sit for a few minutes. Then return with a damp cloth and dab until you feel the vinegar or alcohol is out of the seat cushion.

Finish by dabbing the areas with lukewarm water, and then drying them with a cloth or paper towels.

How to Keep Your Chair Cushions Clean

how to clean chair cushions
Source: Shutterstock

Always clean up spills immediately when they happen, especially liquids like coffee. If these are not taken care of right away, they will set into the fabric and become much more difficult, or impossible, to remove later.

If you vacuum your office area, use an attachment to vacuum your chair cushions as well. This removes dust and dirt that gets embedded in the fabric of the chair cushion. It isn’t pretty to hear, but dust mites, dead skin, and hair all collect on the fabric of office chairs over time.

Wipe your chair cushions as often as possible. Using wipes is a great way to keep your chair clean, but it also helps keep your workspace safe and sanitized. Using delicate, anti-bacterial wipes will reduce germs around you and maintain your chair. We recommend wiping down your desk and keyboard often too.

Bottom Line

It may seem daunting cleaning an upholstered office chair but is easier than you might think. This guide should have your office chair sparkling in less than an hour with some household materials.

So don’t let your chair’s cleanliness get away from you as the years roll on. Take good care of your furniture and follow this step-by-step cleaning process at least once a year.


How long does an office chair take to clean?

An office chair cleaning can take anywhere from 10 minutes up to 30 minutes depending on how deep of a cleaning you want to do.

To do a spot cleaning and just remove certain stubborn stains may only take you about 5 minutes. But a proper, deep cleaning that you seasonally do could take over half an hour.

Can I hire a professional?

Yes! If this all seems like too much of a hassle, there are wonderful cleaning and upholstery professionals out there that can revive your dirty chair to its original glory.

If there are serious stains you have let sit, these may be beyond your capabilities and you need a professional. Especially if you try all of these steps to a clean chair and the chair is still riddled with stains, it may need more cleaning than you can do with standard materials.

Can I put the pieces in the washing machine?

We do not recommend putting any pieces of the chair in the washing machine. Washing machines can be so rough and tear up the seat cushions, so it’s best to wash by hand only.

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