How to Remove Unpleasant Smells from an Office Chair

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It’s really impossible to concentrate on work if the surrounding atmosphere is uncomfortable, the noises, strange smells, and even the chair keep rolling around. We understand your discomfort, especially unpleasant odors.

These smells can come from your college when they ask you to sit or your body scent. Sometimes, a new chair also has a bad smell as the manufacturers keep it in the warehouse too long. Whatever the cause, the smells from your office chair must be horrible and cause so much annoyance to you.

Luckily, there are always solutions for you to fix this issue. Read and try some ways to find the best option for your chair!

Why Does Your Chair Smell Bad?

1. Chemical Preservatives

Most of the time, when you open upholstered furniture, unpleasant smells emit immediately. That is the smell of the chemical preservatives that manufacturers use to preserve it.

The amount of time that a chair is kept in the warehouse also increases the odor of preserving substances. A warehouse is a place where manufacturers pile up numerous stuff in a small area.

Therefore, the scent of chemical preservatives cannot spread out. Otherwise, it mixes with others and creates long-lasting and terrible smells.

Fortunately, when you leave your office chair out of the package, this odor fades away quickly.

2. Plastic and Foam

Manufacturers often wrap brand-new chairs with a lot of plastic and foam layers. Plastic and foam usually have a distinctive odor because of the factory environment. They have these unpleasant smells due to the process of sterilization.

Similar to preservatives, the odor of plastic and foam is easy to wash away, so it’s not a big problem.

office chair smells bad

3. Fungi and Bacteria

Fungi cause a musty smell that will cover your chair, then affect your entire room. Whenever you walk in, you always feel frustrated because of the strong odor.

Bacteria is the common cause of the odor. If you sit on your office chair while sweating a lot, this awful smell will stick to it.

You might not be aware of bacteria, but they appear everywhere, around your area. Though they seem invisible, they are able to spread out and transfer to the chair’s material.

Then, the fabric absorbs and harbors them, leading to the unpleasant smells of your chair. Even a little sweat can cause a terrible odor on your office chair if you don’t clean it right away.

How to Deodorize Your Office Chair

1. Read The Cleaning Instructions On The Tag

Chairs usually have cleaning instructions, which include from A to Z steps to follow. They also explain typical symbols for you to understand how you will wash your chair. Here are some popular fabric cleaning codes:

fabric cleaning codes

  • W: stands for water-based cleaning. Using warm water to wash the chair is advisable.
  • S: means solvents are good. Do not use water.
  • WS (or SW): is that both water and solvents are accepted.
  • X: Don’t clean the chair at home. Bring it to the laundry and let a professional do it.
  • D: Dry clean only.
  • C: Your chair is made from a proprietary fabric named Crypton that requires special care.

You need to check the tag carefully to avoid any damage to the fabric and ruin your chair.

2. Wait Half an Hour to a Few Hours

As mentioned above, upholstered furniture sometimes gets unpleasant smells from its packaging and delivery process, including your office chair.

We suggest that you leave the chair for an hour or a couple of hours after you unpack it. An airy place is perfect for this smell to dissipate faster. This technique will get rid of the annoying smells from a new chair. Then, you can use it normally.

However, if the bad odor does not disappear after a few days, you should consider another way!

3. Expose The Chair to The Sun and Wind

The ultraviolet rays can break down both natural and synthetic particles. They dry and eliminate compounds that cause a bad odor on your chair. All you need is to leave it under bright sunlight for a few hours. If the unpleasant smells still exist, leave them for more than a day.

Expose the chair to the sun and wind

To let the smell fade away more quickly, you should put it in a well-ventilated room. The combination of sunlight and wind weakens and deodorizes the odors better.

However, make sure that you will not forget it. Exposure to direct sunlight for a long time can cause damages to the form and quality of the chair. It can burn up, crack the skin, and discolor the fabric.

4. Wipe It With a Dry Towel

A dry cloth is a good and affordable choice. It contains a fabric softener compound, leaving a great smell and softens the material.

You can rub it along the surface of your chair to soften chemicals and make them fade away rapidly. This dry cloth can absorb the moisture hidden in the chair and cover it up with a good scent, too.

However, this way does not seem efficient enough for a very strong smell. In this case, you need to apply other methods to deodorize them completely.

5. Use a Steam Cleaner Or Vacuum

If you have a handheld steam cleaner or vacuum, use it to eliminate the stubborn smells. A steam cleaner uses heated water to infuse the material’s surface with hot moisture, then uses pressure to pull it back.

steam clean office chair

This method can wash the dirt away and remove odors, which lay deep inside the fabric. But it also has some drawbacks. If you do not pay attention, water from the steam cleaner can wet the chair and become a perfect place for molds and mildew to grow up.

Using a vacuum cleaner is a good choice as well. It quickly vacuums dust and other factors that make your chair smell bad.

6. Apply Baking Soda

Baking soda powder is a popular cleanser and can remove bad smells.

It includes compounds that help to absorb smells caused by bacteria and neutralize their pH level. Until bacteria have acidic properties, they will not emit unpleasant smells.

To do that, you sprinkle baking soda slowly all over your chair and gently wipe it into the fabric to not scratch the material. Then, leave it overnight. Finally, you vacuum the baking soda.

Make sure that the suction of the vacuum is strong enough to remove every baking soda bit hidden in the material. If you do not have a vacuum, a dry cloth will be a good option though it may take little time.

7. Apply Vinegar

Another ingredient that you can always find in your kitchen is white vinegar. Vinegar is a natural and eco-friendly detergent that can kill off bacteria and remove bad smells.  Apple cider vinegar is also acceptable.


vinegar for cleaning

However, you have to be very careful as vinegar is a strong substance. It can ruin or tear up your chair’s material. When using vinegar, you need to dilute it with water to lower the high level of acidity. You should follow the steps below to use vinegar in the right way!

Firstly, put a cup of vinegar and a cup of water in a spray bottle. You can add more vinegar if the smell is too strong. Spray the solution on your office chair with a little moisture. Then, let it dry.

8. Use Dry-Cleaning Solvent

For some chairs that cannot use water-based cleaners, a dry-cleaning solvent is the best choice.  It contains a commercial chemical – perchloroethylene, which can eliminate strong smells, including cigarette odors. You can apply the steps of using baking soda for this one.

There is a wide variety of water-based liquid cleaners with different brands and names. They are all safe for chairs that require dry cleaning. You just need to look for which option is suitable for your demand and budget.

9. Use Deodorizer

A deodorizer is not really an effective way to eliminate odors. By covering up these unpleasant smells, it does its job quite well. We recommend this method for light smells. If your office chair has a strong scent, try another solution!

Deodorizer for office chair

Now, some brands use organic compounds in their deodorizer products. Therefore, they are safe for your health.

10. Disassemble and Deep Clean The Chair

If all solutions do not work for your chair, it’s time for you to give it special care. Having the chair for years will absorb a lot of unpleasant smells that are very difficult to clean at home.

Professional laundries can help you with this issue. They will disassemble and clean every detail of your chair. It looks like you’ve just bought a new chair.

How to Prevent The Bad Smells From Coming Back

Now, you’ve removed all the unpleasant smells from your chair. When the chair begins to emit odors again, you can take some basic preventive methods to save it from smelling.

The first and most important thing is to clean your chair regularly to kill off bacteria and fungi. If you rarely wash it, the dirty environment will boost bacterial growth. The odors will become much stronger.

You can clean your office chair with soapy water solutions. Remember to purchase organic and eco-friendly laundry detergents. They will not discolor the materials and still maintain their quality. Dry-cleaning solvents are acceptable if the materials require special treatment.

After treating with washing liquid, you should leave your chair outside, under bright sunlight, to dry it out. Putting it near a big window with a fan is also an ideal option.

You have to make sure that the chair absorbs no moisture. Otherwise, it will become a perfect shelter for bacteria and fungi and cause unpleasant smells again.


At some point, your office chair suddenly smells strange, then calm down. There are many ways to get rid of those horrible smells on your chair. The ways that we have shared above are one of those effective ways. Try some to find the most effective cleaning solution that works for you.

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