Upholstered Dining Chairs: How to Clean and Should You Buy One


Dining chairs play two very important roles at the same time. The lesser role is serving as a decorative object that helps to complete the theme of your dining room. Their most important role is to make you comfortable while you enjoy a long meal, and keeping you comfy during post-dinner conversation without your back feeling stiff or your legs falling asleep. 

Wood and metal chairs can definitely be comfortable - it all depends on the design. If the seat is upholstered or ergonomic, diners can comfortably stay parked right where they're at through appetizers, dinner, dessert, and coffee. Even though chairs that aren't upholstered can still be plenty cozy, upholstered chairs with thick batting are still the first thing that comes to mind when people envision a comfy place to sit. 

If you're still at a place where you're deciding which route to go, it's important to note that upholstered dining chairs come with pros and cons, just like wooden or metal dining chairs. Before you commit to your decision, consider the variables.

The Upsides and Downsides of Upholstered Dining Chairs

The absolute biggest advantage of upholstered dining chairs is the level of comfort they offer. Upholstered dining chairs are like personal couches to sit in while you eat. The idea is to sink into a big upholstered chair and stay parked there for a while. If your family dinners usually run on the longer side, choosing the most comfortable chair possible seems to be the only option. 

On the same side of that coin, any lengthy sitting activity requires a comfy chair. If you multitask your dining room table as an entertainment or conversation space, that's another great reason to prioritize the comfort of your chairs. If you like to sit at the dining room table to sip coffee and build puzzles or play cards after dinner, you need a chair that will be easy to sit in for a number of hours. 

Another benefit of upholstered chairs is the way they add to the decor of a room. Upholstered chairs allow you to utilize your dining room's colors and patterns to make a stronger statement. If your dining room is more than a traditional wooden table with a traditional chandelier, you might want to be able to express elements of design with your seating. 

With all these pros comes a significant con. Your dining room, much like your kitchen, is an area in your home that's prone to spills. Everyone is eating and drinking, and it's inevitable that some of that food and drink will make its way to your upholstery. If you have young children, it's practically a guarantee that at least one chair will see a spill every night. 

Spills on upholstery usually require immediate intervention, especially if the upholstery isn't made of a stain-resistant material like Dacron. Upholstered chairs are higher maintenance, requiring more of a commitment on your part. 

The Upsides and Downsides of Other Dining Chairs

Metal and wooden dining chairs lend themselves to specific aesthetics. Metal chairs are industrial, futuristic, and minimalist. Wooden dining chairs are warm and traditional. Both chairs are often lightweight compared to upholstered chairs because they don't have the bulk that comes with extra fabric and batting. 

Wooden and metal chairs are easier to clean. Drink spills or food smudges can easily be wiped down. You'll never have anything to launder and your chairs will last you an eternity without requiring reupholstering or deep cleaning. These solutions are beautiful and low maintenance. 

The downside with wooden and metal chairs is that they simply cannot offer the biggest advantage that comes with upholstered chairs: long term comfort. No one has ever sunk into a metal chair and thought "I'm so nestled in, I could sit here all night!" 

If you don't use your dining room for anything more than an hour or so for a meal and you prefer a low maintenance home, the comfort factor may not play a role. If you have a family or you like to entertain, metal or wooden chairs are unlikely to win the battle of pros and cons.

The Space In Between Upholstered Chairs and Other Chairs

If you absolutely must have wooden or metal chairs but comfort is a significant factor, you can always go for the "best of both worlds" option. Get a wooden or metal dining room chair with an upholstered padded seat. You'll be able to enjoy your preferred aesthetic with a less conspicuous piece of upholstery that will keep the chair comfortable to sit in for a longer period of time. It's a good compromise. 

If the wooden or metal chairs that you love don't come with an upholstered seat or the upholstery doesn't match your dining room, you can utilize a quick fix. You can purchase or make seat cushions separately and easily affix them to the chair yourself. 

If the seat is already padded but you aren't wild about the way it looks, you can buy covers that will fit over the upholstery. This is a great option when the upholstered seats are a light color that will easily show stains. Cover them with a darker color to make maintenance easier. If anything spills on the seat, you can remove the covers and toss them in the washing machine. If you can't fully remove any stains that have seeped through, there's no need to panic. The cover will make any unsightly blemishes invisible.

Cleaning an Upholstered Dining Chair

Even if your upholstered chairs don't look dirty, it's good to clean them regularly. Bacteria and odors aren't visible, and they're bound to accumulate in the upholstery over time. You can clean upholstered chairs with a handheld steam cleaner, a little bit of peroxide or stain treatment, and some antibacterial dish soap. The specifics of how much water, peroxide, and soap you use will depend on the kind of steam cleaner you use. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions. 

Hydrogen peroxide is an excellent stain remover. It will bubble up and oxidize away a wide variety of stains - including bodily fluids. Not all fabric will respond well to hydrogen peroxide. In some cases, it may bleach the fabric. If you're not sure how your upholstery will respond, check on the underside of the chair. 

The remnants of the upholstery that are tucked away under the bottom where no one can see them are the best test subjects. Spritz on some peroxide and wait a day. If there are no signs of discoloration, you're generally safe to proceed with peroxide on the rest of the chair.

If you can't use peroxide or you have another preferred product, treat the chairs with that for about half an hour before you come in with your steam cleaner. Be sure to use color safe stain removers that are designed to work with upholstered chairs. More often than not, the packaging will denote that the product is upholstery safe. 

After the stain remover has had time to work its magic, use a cleaning cloth saturated with soapy water to give the chair a quick pre-scrub, paying close attention to stained areas. Then, get to work with your handheld steam cleaner. 

Run the steam cleaner over the back of the chair and the seat of the chair in a grid pattern. Any areas with noticeable stains or discoloration may require some special attention. If it doesn't look clean enough after the first pass or the stains don't seem to budge, saturate the area with more stain remover. Wait another hour, and then try again.

Will I Have to Reupholster My Dining Room Chairs?

Well maintained upholstered dining chairs can last decades, and good upholstery is difficult to ruin. If your upholstered chairs are high quality, you may never need to reupholster or repair them.

Some people choose to reupholster chairs when they redecorate their dining rooms, even if the current upholstery is still in good condition. If you intend to keep your dining room the way it is for the long haul, you'll only need to reupholster the chairs when the upholstery has taken a noticeable beating.

If your upholstered chairs begin to fray at the seams, or if the fabric starts to thin in places that are frequently scrubbed, it's probably time to reupholster your chairs. Reupholstering your chairs as a DIY project will undoubtedly be less expensive than taking them to an upholstery specialist. If you can't or don't want to do it yourself, it might even be less expensive to just replace your chairs. 


Upholstered dining chairs won't be the best choice for everyone, but they're a lifesaver for families that like to spend a significant portion of their night around the dinner table. Whether you've decided on wooden dining chairs or upholstered dining chairs, Whom has a few attractive options that can perfectly suit any dining room!





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