Taking Care of Your Office Chair, Part 1

It happens so quickly. The coffee cup keels over, and suddenly the snow-white plush of your office chair has become an ugly brown. As you walk past to water the pot plants on your windowsill, you spill water onto the leather couch under the window, and it now has cracked calcium lines. A customer comes into the office with snow-covered or rain-soaked shoes, leaving muddy brown footprints on your carpet. Removing all traces of a substance from your fabrics can be a tricky business. If you heed a few cleaning tips, you will be able to respond to mishaps quickly and ensure that textiles, upholstery and Co. remain true to their original colour.

A fast response time is essential in cleaning soiled fabrics. The longer dirt has to eat into fibres, the longer it has to permanently discolour or damage them. As time passes, it becomes increasingly difficult to restore fabrics to their original condition. Regular care of office fabrics is worth the effort. Fabrics that receive regular cleaning retain their colour for longer and are also nicer to the touch.

A Quick Textile Typology

Office chair covers are as varied as their owners. Anything is possible, from a leather executive chair to a breathable mesh-fabric gaming chair. Common office chair covers include cotton, polyester, and faux leather. These materials are used for lounge furniture, bar stools, guest chairs and couch trimmings. They also appear in stylish and modern products such as gaming chairs and ‘lifestyle’ office chairs, which combine the lifestyle advantages and style of a lounge chair with the ergonomic requirements of a work chair. Like curtains and carpets, padding and materials need to be cleaned regularly. Every fabric has different requirements for cleaning and stain removal. Organic substances such as blood or egg can be removed through a mixture of cold water and either detergent or shampoo. Dried lipstick, ink and coffee stains are best removed with this shampoo and cold-water mixture along with a drop of methylated spirits or stain remover. Stains that are not water-soluble, such as butter, paint, fat, oil or shoe shiner, are best fought with methylated spirits. However, remember that less can be more. Using a smaller dose of spirits to clean your fabric is gentler and more effective than a ‘more is more’ approach.

The Right Care for Each Fabric

Cotton, Wool and Linen

Padding, curtains, carpets and covers that are made of natural fabrics such as cotton, wool or linen are somewhat harder to clean than artificial fibres. Vacuum cleaning is the best option for removing crumbs, hair, dust and lint. Even if you keep your vacuum cleaner on a low setting, the nozzle will suck up all foreign particles from slits or folds in the fabric. Alternatively, you can clean upholstered furniture with a soft brush. Perfectionists should note that professionals move the nozzle of the vacuum cleaner parallel to the line direction of the carpet pile or fabric to avoid creating lines.

If the padding of your piece of furniture has been stained, heed this rule of thumb: if the stain has been caused by a fat-based substance, put a dash of detergent or mild shampoo on a wet cloth. If the stain is not fat-based, a wet piece of leather or cloth is sufficient. Using the cloth, rub the edges of the stain and then slowly work your way inwards to remove it bit by bit. This method is most effective if you moisten your cleaning cloth with distilled water. This avoids calcium stains that might otherwise appear after drying. Furniture padding made of natural fabrics can also be carefully fan-dried. Padding should not be used as long as it is wet. Take care not to use a hair drier on synthetic materials, as the plastic fibres may begin to melt or burn.

Synthetic Fabrics

Polyester and microfiber are very robust fabrics and can be cleaned accordingly. They will endure vacuum cleaning a daily basis, for example. Since their fibres have a smoother structure than natural fibres, stains are generally easier to remove from synthetics. As outlined above, remember that the type of stain affects the way you clean it.

Leather

Leather is a particularly sensitive material and requires a lot of care. The care requirements of leather also depend on the location of your leather furniture. Leather furniture should not be placed close to windows because leather is a light-sensitive material. If leather is exposed to light on one side, it can become blotchy or darken unevenly on one side. Valuable leather furniture should also be located in a room with sufficient humidity. It needs a fairly humid environment so that it does not dry out and become rough or cracked.

There are some things that you should avoid when cleaning leather fabrics. Do not use turpentine solution, stain remover, petrol or solvents to clean your leather products. It is entirely sufficient to give the surface once-over with a wet cloth every week. If you are careful, you can also vacuum clean your leather product provided that you use a low setting.

Over the long term, sweat and finger prints leave stains on leather, and this is the reason that it must be regularly cleaned with a wet cloth. More prominent stains can also be removed in this way. Leather does not require any special care. However, suede leather can be treated with a rubber brush at regular intervals to maintain its structure and colour.

Do not panic if you see a fat stain on your leather furniture. Fat stains on leather can be treated without rush because fat eats into leather slowly and steadily. More importantly, fat stains are invisible. However, you should absorb liquid as quickly as possible with a cloth or paper towel. Do not rub the liquid into the leather. After a stain has been removed from suede leather, the leather should be treated with a waterproofing spray or leather cleaner. Always remember to take note of the manufacturer’s care instructions.

If you accidentally spill water on your leather, keep calm. Soak up the water and fight any calcium stains that arise with the following recipe. Mix one part milk with one part water, dip a clean cloth into the mix and gently polish the affected area.

Mesh

Mesh can pre-emptively be treated with silicon spray to protect it from stains. Mesh fabrics are generally quite resilient and can be cleaned with a wet cloth. If the stain is more serious, apply a drop of detergent a moist cleaning sponge. It is also important that the mesh fabric has sufficient time to dry. As stated above, hair dryers, heaters and other sources of heat should not be used to dry synthetic mesh fabrics.

The first part of our series on fabric care shows you how to take care of hard surfaces such as chrome, wood and hard plastics. Follow the link to find out more about how to maintain your hard surfaces.

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