Are you utterly sick and tired of dragging your office or home computer chair across the floor like a stubborn child? Scratching your head at the furry protrusions that used to be functioning wheels?
When was the last time you cleaned your office chair wheels? No, us neither. Although if this issue is left unresolved you can severely hobble your chair, reduce its functionality and find yourself pulling your back out lugging it from one end of the room to another.
Now, your chair is end-up and you’re wondering where to start. Fear not! We’re here to help you.
Below is our handy list of do’s and don’ts for removing those unsightly stray ends from where they shouldn’t be, so grab some duct tape and fire up the blow torch - we’re not joking!
How To Remove The Castors For Easy Cleaning
Firstly, flip your chair on its belly so that the wheels are sticking straight up in the air. Most manufacturers design their office chairs with removable wheels to allow ease-of-access when cleaning.
Wedge a regular screwdriver in between the wheel and the chair base and gently lever in downwards. The wheel should detach with relative ease. Some castors can also be removed with your bare hands.
Now that the wheel is fully detached, you can get up close and inspect how much hair is really trapped in there - that’s if you have the stomach!
The easy option to remove most of the large debris is to grab yourself a butter knife from the kitchen drawer and scrape out all the clumps of dirt and loose hair.
The knife should fit in easily between the narrow grooves, although make sure you don’t gouge the plastic, as it might damage the wheel’s ability to roll smoothly across the floor.
Suck It Up
One of the less drastic solutions for getting those hairs from between the wheels is by using a vacuum cleaner.
Now, most vacuum cleaners won’t be strong enough to remove particularly tangled hairs, but it might prove useful before or after a cleanup operation, sucking up hairs and dust that you’ve removed using other implements in this list.
Let’s Get Sticky!
Okay, so the knife has worked out the longer plaits that have accumulated in your wheels, but what about those entangled hard-to-reach hairs?
Well, for finer hairs, dust and gunk, take a roll of duct tape and wrap it, sticky side out, around your fingers.
Press it firmly onto the wheel, covering as much of the surface as possible, then pull it off quickly, almost like you were removing a band-aid. Keep sticking and ripping until there’s more hair on the tape than on your wheel!
Cotton swabs dipped in hot water and detergent are also very efficient for cleaning out those hair-clogged nooks and crannies.
They Don’t Just Clip Your Nails, You Know
Tweezers and nail clippers are perfect tools for snicking those matted and entwined hairs that fingers are just too big to grasp.
You can slice and grab hairs in one single movement with a pair of tweezers, although make sure you don’t cut through your own hand in the process!
If You Can’t Stand The Heat…
At this point maybe you’ve exhausted your arsenal of weapons to fight back the hair. The butter knife, the duct tape and the tweezers just haven’t worked. Well, now it’s time for a more radical suggestion: the blowtorch.
Hair notoriously does not do well under naked flames, shriveling up in an instant under its intense heat. Understandably a lot of people don’t have access to one of these industrial tools, so a simple cigarette lighter will do.
However, the intensity and brevity of a blowtorch will decimate any hairs quickly without melting the plastic of the wheels, which is a definite hazard when you’re using a slower-burning flame like a lighter.
Make sure when applying the heat that your chair isn’t near any other flammable sources such as carpet or newspaper. It might be better to apply the heat outside if possible - although you might have to deal with a few strange looks from passers-by!
When you’ve removed all the hair in sight, take some warm water or a hose and blast off the ashes and burnt hair.
As Simple As Soap And Water
A tried and tested method of removing anything, you can try and dislodge the hair the more leisurely way - with hot water and soap. You might have to work this one a little harder, but water can get to the places that tweezers and knives just can’t!
Once you’ve removed the castor wheels, you can leave them to soak, possibly overnight in a bowl of soapy hot water. You can also use a fingernail brush to intermittently remove the hairs as they loosen.
Blasting them with a high-pressure hose is also a very effective way of detaching the hairs from between your castors.
Once you have cleaned the wheels thoroughly, give them a few minutes under a warm hairdryer to get rid of any droplets that have accumulated, avoiding a wet office floor. Remember: don’t hold the hairdryer over your wheels for too long, as it will melt the plastic.
Now that all the water and ash is cleaned off, it’s time to apply lubricant to stop the metal parts of the wheel from rusting.
Coat the lubricant liberally onto both the plastic and the metal parts of the wheel for maximum movement and rotation.
Avoid applying the lubricant on the part of the wheel that touches the floor as this will leave long greasy streaks - which might not best please your boss if you’re working in an office!
To get into the narrow crack in your wheel, use a lubricant with a long application nozzle.
If you think your castors are a write-off, you might want to replace them with brand new ones.
Here’s a quick guide on replacing various types of chair castors:
- Turn the chair upside down so the legs are in the air
- Remove a threaded castor by twisting it clockwise. You can test if your castor is threaded by pushing it clockwise at the base, if it budges, then just keep turning!
- Uninstall a grim stem castor by just applying lubricant to the point where the wheel and the chair base meets and just pull away forcibly
- Use a screwdriver and pry bar if the castor won’t budge with lubricant
- Once removed, measure the size of the castor stem (where the castor connects with the chair base)
- Decide whether you want a twin- or single-wheel castor. Twin-wheel castors distribute the weight more evenly, whereas a single-wheel castor has fewer parts and is therefore more reliable
- Purchase carpet castors for soft carpet floors and hardwood castors for hardwood floors. If your chair will be rolling on both surfaces, it’s best to get hardwood castors, as they will cause less damage
- Install your new threaded castor by turning it in until it won’t turn any more
- Push in a grip stem castor until you hear it snap into place. You might want to apply some more lubricant if you’re meeting some resistance
Paying For It
For some people with hairy office wheels, some of the above suggestions might seem unnecessary and slightly too extreme for their particular problem.
You might want to employ a cleaning service to completely overhaul your chair from top to bottom, although this might come with a hefty price tag, so it might be better to do this in bulk and have all the chairs in your office cleaned at the same time.
A Few More Tips
- It’s usually a lot more tricky to remove the hairs from your wheels when they are wet. Try your best to eradicate the hair first before you wash them.
- It is best to clean your wheel regularly to avoid them getting too congested with dirt and hair. Check them regularly once every two months, removing strands of hair as and when they appear.
- When purchasing an office chair, remember to get one with removable castors to ensure ease of cleaning when the time comes.
- Investing in a chair mat will prevent hairs trapping in the carpet and then getting caught up in the wheels.
- Some lubricants can attract a significant amount of dirt and hair. If your wheels are metal on metal contact, we would advise you to use a non-greasy lubricant, however, if your wheels are plastic, a silicon lubricant might be more appropriate.
Our Final Say
Hopefully, after reading this handy how-to guide, you will be able to keep your office chair from sprouting unnecessary hairs, enabling you to glide across carpeted and hardwood floors with ease!
Remember: avoid your wheels becoming too clogged with monthly maintenance and if you’re using more extreme methods such as a knife or the blow torch, be very mindful of your safety as well as the safety of your co-workers and family.