How to Remove Office Chair Smells

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Ah, the office chair - it’s the part of our work life that we may be underappreciating daily. The office chair is what provides us the only comfort we can get in the cold, stoic office. 

Because we tend to use our office chairs every work day, and more often than our chairs at home, these office chairs tend to pick up sweat, dirt, oils, and bacteria that can emit smells. These smells are completely common, as there are several factors that may contribute to the smell. However, a smelly office chair is definitely an embarrassment for any office worker. 

In this article, we’ll present theories why your office chair may get stinky, and guide you on how to remove that office chair smell for good. 

Why Do Office Chairs Get Stinky?

Office chairs smell weird when they accumulate moisture, bacteria, or both. While a new office chair may have a chemical, plasticky smell, musty or acidic odors coming from used office furniture poses a different problem.

As gross as it may sound, sweat is the number one cause for the smell emitting from most office chairs. The moisture from sweat, coupled with the accumulation of dust and bacteria, create the perfect mixture for bad smells. Body odor can also transfer to the office chair material, making for an embarrassing situation.

Too much moisture is another factor, as mold and mildew can grow from deep within the plush of the chair, causing musty odors. Keeping your chair dry is one of the best ways to keep it from smelling bad, especially for plush, fabric, and leather chairs.

How to Clean Office Chair Smell

The best way to remove that smell from your office chair is to first determine whether the chair is responsible for the smell, or if it is the surrounding area like the carpet or air conditioner. 

Professional cleaning services are still the way to go to tackle any grime or dirt in the office. With most offices, the smell coming from an office chair is the least of their concerns when it comes to cleanliness. Oftentimes, it means that the surrounding area is a hotspot for bacteria and germs that linger around the office, and solving one issue does not remove the source. 

Avail of professional cleaning services to ensure that you get rid of foul odors from your office for good. Professional cleaning services offer the best deep cleaning methods, as well as office disinfection to remove all types of germs and viruses that can make you sick. 

Also read: The Importance of Washing Your Hands at Work

DIY and Natural Methods to Remove Office Chair Smell

Modern office with leather swivel chair and sofa
Leather and fabric chairs tend to smell after a period of usage.

Baking Soda

Baking soda has long been known to remove odors from most surfaces, as well as used as a dry cleaning solution when mixed with essential oils. Baking soda has the ability to draw out odors from fabrics, and can be sprinkled into shoes, bags, jackets, and even your office chairs.

To deodorize your office chair with baking soda, lightly sprinkle baking soda in an even layer onto your chair, making sure to focus on the seat area. Allow the baking soda to stay on the chair for 20 minutes, or let sit overnight for best results. Vacuum up the baking soda, or dust it off outside to remove the powder and your office chair should be smelling fresh again.

Wet Vacuum Method

The wet function of your vacuum cleaner can not only get rid of the odor, it can deep clean your office chair as well. Scrub down your chair with a liquid soap meant for furniture, making sure to get in the corners, and where your skin touches the fabric. 

Take your vacuum on the wet function and suction the moisture out. Rinse if needed and repeat the vacuuming until the chair feels damp. Let the chair air dry in an open area, or under sunlight to ensure that the chair is completely dry before you sit on it.


Vinegar may have a strong, off-putting odor, but it actually helps to deodorize fabrics! Surprisingly, the smell of vinegar dissipates once it has dried, and our solution uses only half the amount of vinegar you would need, as it is diluted in water.

Take a bottle and fill half of it with distilled white vinegar, or apple cider vinegar for dark fabrics. Fill the rest of the bottle with water, and give it a good shake. Spray the vinegar solution generously on the chair, and let it air dry in an open area or under sunlight. Make sure to completely dry the chair before using, as the vinegar smell may linger while the chair is still wet. 

Vodka Spray

No, it’s not Friday yet but it’s time to break out the vodka! Vodka is great for deodorizing fabrics, and it also disinfects and sterilizes surfaces to get rid of the bacteria that causes odors. Fill a spray bottle with vodka, and liberally spray your office chair until it is saturated, but not soaking wet with vodka. Leave it to air dry in direct sunlight and the smell should dissipate.

Don’t like wasting expensive vodka? Cheap vodka does the same thing, and you can also opt for unscented rubbing alcohol that has a 70% concentration. Similarly, you can fill a bottle with unscented rubbing alcohol, and spray the chair. Leave in the sunlight to dry.

Vodka or alcohol is the best option to use for leather chairs, as other substances may damage the material, or not work at all. However, for leather office chairs, simply wipe the surface with vodka or alcohol instead of spraying it to ensure the most minimal damage possible.

How to Keep Your Office Chair Smelling Clean

While the smell may be a common occurrence for most office workers, especially those with old or long-used chairs, it is still a determinant for your own hygiene and can be embarrassing to have a musty smell in your office chair. 

Keep your chair clean by sanitizing it daily, and ensuring that the chair has ample time to dry from daily moisture, especially in humid areas. Follow our list for the best ways to keep your office chair clean:

  • Wipe off food or water spills immediately.
  • Keep moisture away from your office chair.
  • Do not smoke in the office as the tobacco smell and cigarette smoke may get into the furniture.
  • Sanitize your office chair daily.
  • Keep your office chair dry for a clean smelling chair.
  • Prevent chemical smells by airing out your chair.
  • Have your office professionally cleaned often to remove lingering bacteria in the environment.

For more office cleaning tips and tricks, check out our blog.

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