How to Clean and Disinfect Your Church Chairs

Keep your chairs looking good as new and your members safe  

Church chairs require regular maintenance, cleaning, and disinfecting to keep them looking nice and to stop the spread of germs.

This blog will walk you through the best ways to clean and sanitize Bertolini chair frames and upholstery.

Topics include how to clean: 

  • Metal frames 
  • Vinyl & Polyurethane upholstery 
  • Fabric upholstery 

We have also included a link to some cleaning and disinfecting recommendations from the CDC.  

Cleaning Metal Chairs

Bertolini chairs are manufactured with powder-coated steelwhich is fairly easy to clan and maintain.

Use a light solution of soap or non-caustic cleaning agents to periodically wipe down the frames and remove surface dirt, perspiration residue, and germs. That’s all you need to do to keep your chairs looking new for years to come.

To disinfect chair frames, use a standard cleaner, but avoid ones that are abrasive as that can erode some powder-coated finishes.

Cleaning Vinyl & Polyurethane

If your chairs have a vinyl cushion, use a gentle mixture of any mild soap and warm water to dissipate the most common soil from the surface. Wash the cushion using a soft cloth.  If stubborn dirt remains, such as a stain imbedded in the grain, use a soft brush. If necessary, use a touch of cleaning powder or bleach and clean water

The best way to disinfect polyurethane upholstery is to use a solution of bleach and clean water. Use one teaspoon of bleach for every one gallon of water. Make sure to measure carefully as stronger concentrations can damage the material. Apply the solution with a damp rag. 

 In both situations, rinse and dry the cushion’s fabric with a soft cloth. 

Cleaning Fabric Upholstery  

Cleaning fabric upholstery can be complicated. We lay it out for you here and walk you through everything from a light cleaning to a deep cleaning. 

Light, Everyday Cleaning

The key to keeping chairs and other upholstered furniture looking nice is to clean it regularlyDay-to-day cleaning and light maintenance will pick up dust and airborne debris. The best items to use for these tasks are lint rollers and vacuums. 

  • Lint Rollers: Lint rollers are handy for quick cleaning after services. They can help pick up pesky hairs, dirt, and other fibers left behind. The advantage of using a lint roller, as compared to most fabric brushes, is that the sticky paper lifts the fabric, rather than flattening it and rubbing dirt into the weaves of the fabric. Pushing dirt into the fabric fibers is eventually what dulls its color and leaves the furniture looking worn. 
  •  Vacuum: Though it is not necessary to vacuum every day, doing a light run every week, using nozzle attachments, will help reduce builtup grime. 


It’s a good idea to give your furniture a routine rinse every so often. A light lather can reverse regular wear and uplift small, set-in debris from the woven fabric. 

Chairs upholstered with fabric treated with a performance treatmentsuch as Nanotex, InCase, Crypton, iClean, or Altaor fabric made from 100% polyolefin (or polypropylene) will generally clean nicely. In fact, you may notice a brighter color and a better general aesthetic to the fabric after cleaning.    

However, fabric made with cotton, polyester, nylon, and wool (or a mixture of these yarns) that is not treated with a performance treatment will be more difficult to cleanespecially if the material is stained. It also may not brighten after general cleaning.  

Something else to note, Scotchguard and Teflon are not performance treatments. These formulas are sprayed onto a material versus an actual performance treatment, such as those mentioned above, which encapsulate the yarn in a process where the material is immersed in a liquid bath. This is why it’s important to have chair fabric treated at the time of purchase.  

To disinfect fabric, particularly with a 100% polyolefin material, use a bleach solution to sanitize the material. 

Precautions When Cleaning

Although cleaning chairs regularly is important, use as little liquid as possible. This will help keep your fabric looking better for longer. Using too much water can leave visible watermarks or soak the upholstery and cause the fabric to lose its integrity (it can shrink or sag).  

Also, avoid water contact with the metal parts of the chair, particularly any zippers around the seat cushions, as they can rust if not dried thoroughly. 

Before washing, check the labels or fabric code on the back of furniture items as some fabrics will be damaged by the presence of water. If your label says, “dry clean only”, it will probably need to be professionally cleaned.  

To ensure your chairs and furniture are water safe, test a small area on a single item and wait a few hours to see if the water changes the fabric. 

Disinfecting Instructions

Make a cleaning solution by mixing ¼ cup dishwashing liquid with 1 cup of warm water. With an electric hand mixer, whisk the solution until a dense layer of thick, dry suds forms across the top. 

Use a clean cloth to gently massage the suds into the fabric, being careful not to rub, as rubbing will work the dirt deeper into the woven fabric fibers. Pressing hard, use a rubber cooking spatula to scrape away the dirty suds. Rinse, by dabbing the washed area with a warm, damp cloth. 

Always allow the fabric or furniture to thoroughly dry before use, as moisture will cause more dirt to cling to the chair’s surface. 

Deep Cleaning and Removing Set-In Stains

Stains, immediate or set in, are always tricky to remove from chair upholsteryThere’s a chance the simple soap and water method shown above could do the trick. However, sometimes the fabric may need heavier cleaning to remove stains 

Click here for details on how to remove specific types of stains.

Here are some measures you can take. 

  • Steam Cleaning: Steam, unlike straight water, has moisturizing properties that will hydrate a stain without saturating it completely with liquid. Once a stain is moisturized, it may loosen from the fibers and become easier to blot out. Using a steam vacuum is the easiest way to do this. However, putting a standard iron with a steam setting over the spot may do the trick as well. 
  • Vinegar: Vinegar has natural solvent properties that may help loosen and lift set-in stains. Apply vinegar to upholstery with damp, clean rag and blot over the desired area. Then, take a second towel to blot up any remaining fluid and grime.  Though vinegar has an odor, the smell will evaporate after the chair is completely dry.
  • Cleansers*: If the above methods don’t work, try a commercialgrade fabric cleansing spray. These products contain solvents that chemically attack setin stains and germs. Some of our favorites are: 
    • Resolve Stain Remover 
    • Tuff Stuff Multi-Purpose Foam Cleanser 
    • Folex Stain Remover 
    • BISSELL Spot & Stain Fabric and Upholstery Cleaner 

The more we care for furniture, the longer it will last and the better it will look. A simple washing and occasional dusting can do wonders for the integrity of your chairs. However, sometimes deep cleaning is required to remove those pesky stains and germsWhen in doubt, use a light amount of soap to brighten the color of your fabric.  

Please use caution with commercialgrade solvents. Most use powerful chemicals that may ultimately damage your fabric. Before using throughout the chair, always check the upholstery label and test it on a small area.  

Also, never rub in the solution as rubbing can deepen the stain and fray the fabric fibers causing more damage to your furniture. 

One Final Note

Remember to store your chairs in an environment that is safe and free of grime. This will increase the amount of time between necessary cleanings. 

For more guidelines about cleaning and sanitizing products, visit