For over 100 years, Steelcase’s goal has been to provide the best products and service. In our 9 internal test labs, our products undergo rigorous scrutiny that lets us offer the strongest warranty in the industry.

Our comprehensive approach to product maintenance gives us a unique advantage during this time of global pandemic. Customers everywhere are asking for guidance on the best ways to clean our products. This information is our best attempt to respond to your questions, based on our ongoing research.

Cleaning and Disinfecting Are Not the Same. But Both Are Critical.

Uses soap or detergent and water to physically remove germs, dirt and impurities from surfaces or objects. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.

Uses chemicals (such as EPA-registered disinfectants) to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading the infection.

Cleaning products used for soil and stain removal may not be effective disinfectants. And products that disinfect may not be effective for soil and stain removal.

The guidelines in our Surface Materials Reference Manual cover the use of major cleaner types on our surfaces, but do not make any claims regarding disinfection. To address that, we’re moving quickly to test the compatibility of our products with disinfectants commonly used in healthcare. This is a work in progress, so we’re posting data as we confirm it.

Guidelines for Cleaning Your Steelcase Standard Products

Recommended Cleaning Protocol

  1. Identify the materials in your space (working with your dealer or salesperson)
  2. Refer to the Surface Materials Cleaning Manual for instructions on cleaning your specific materials.
  3. Disinfect hard surfaces. (Disinfectants have not yet been identified for general use on soft surfaces. That information is coming soon. Until then, cleaning will reduce the risk of infection by removing germs, dirt and impurities.)
  4. Rinse.
  5. Wash hands frequently.

Disinfecting Hard Surfaces

All Steelcase standard hard surfaces (including glass, metal, wood, laminate, paint, plastic) can be cleaned with one of these common quaternary compound-type cleaners:

Cleaning Steelcase Standard Soft Surfaces

Many of our fabrics can be disinfected with a 10:1 water/bleach spray, but not all. For a list of these materials, see the Finish Library and filter by “bleach cleanable.”

For materials that are not bleach cleanable, we are working on an alternative disinfectant to recommend. Until then, cleaning by following the instructions in our Surface Materials Reference Manual will help reduce the risk of infection by removing germs, dirt and impurities.


  • The spray should be enough to coat the surface of the fabric, but not to soak through to the substrate.
  • Be sure to spray the cleaner uniformly, in order to minimize the impact of the cleaner on material color.

View Interactive Cleaning Guide

Important Notes Regarding These Cleaning Instructions

  • For the latest information on potential exposure pathways for COVID-19 infection, including contact with surfaces, please see the CDC website.
  • Before using any cleaner, check first to ensure it complies with your company’s EHS (Environmental Health and Safety) requirements.
  • Please work with your Facilities and EHS staff to determine how frequently your products should be cleaned.
  • Always follow the cleaner manufacturer’s instructions for use, including dilution and dwell time (time that the cleaner remains on surface before being cleaned off).
  • Proper personal protection equipment (PPE) such as gloves and eye protection, as directed by the cleaner manufacturer, must be worn.
  • Never mix cleaners together, especially bleach and ammonia, as the mixture produces toxic fumes.
  • Ensure that proper ventilation is used during cleaning, in accordance with the cleaner manufacturer’s directions.
  • To avoid risks of fire or shock, always disconnect electrical power when cleaning products that use or provide electricity.
  • Be careful not to allow liquids to enter any openings in electrical products.
  • Since these types of cleaners are marketed under a large number of brand names, it isn’t possible to evaluate all cleaners on all surfaces.
  • Due to the wide variation in the end use of these cleaning products (including amount of product applied, elapsed time before removal from the surface, physical action used to remove the cleaner, and the number of applications), your results may vary from the test results used to develop this guide.
  • If you are unsure about the use of a given cleaner on a surface, please test it first on a small, inconspicuous area before proceeding with a broader cleaning program.
  • These guidelines apply only to products manufactured by Steelcase. For guidance on cleaning other products, refer to the manufacturer of those products’ manufacturers.
  • For custom materials (COM), contact the material manufacturer for cleaning guidelines.
  • For guidelines specific to Designtex fabrics, refer to instructions on their website.
  • Steelcase cannot make a determination of the effectiveness of a given disinfectant product in fighting pathogens, such as COVID-19. Please refer to your local public health authority’s guidance on how to stay safe from potential infection.

Do Steelcase Products Have Antimicrobial Additives?

“Antimicrobial” – A Definition

The term antimicrobial is a popular buzzword, with a lot of companies advertising products with antimicrobial properties.

Technically speaking:
1. Antimicrobials destroy or inhibit the growth of microorganisms and especially pathogenic microorganisms.
2. Antimicrobial properties can come from an inherent material attribute or physical structure, or from a chemical additive.

What’s a microorganism? There are 6 types: Bacteria, fungi (yeast and mold), virus, archaea, algae and protozoa.

Known antimicrobial technologies available for fabrics and surfaces currently available have not been proven to combat or inhibit viruses such as the coronavirus. But new antiviral technologies continue to emerge, and material manufacturers, including our brand Designtex, are constantly evaluating new findings and technology.

Some customers do require antimicrobial additives, and as a result, Steelcase has kept options available for high-touch surfaces such as seating fabrics and worksurface laminates.

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Are Antimicrobials a Way to Combat COVID-19?

Not necessarily. Whether your product is inherently antimicrobial or has antimicrobial properties, it still needs to be properly cleaned.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any other cleaning products besides the ones you suggest that are OK to use?
We recommend using the cleaning products listed in our Surface Materials Reference Manual. However, if your company uses other cleaning products, we suggest that you reference the EPA number listed, which will detail the active and inactive ingredients. If the EPA list has another cleaning product that is similar in composition and concentration with those on our guidelines, it is likely safe to use.

How to read the EPA registration numbers: “XXXX-YYY-ZZZZZ”

The first group of numbers (“XXXX”) identifies the manufacturer. The second group of numbers (“YYY”) is the product number. The third group of numbers (“ZZZZZ”) is the distributor ID/brand. The first two groups are what matter: If the first two fields of numbers are identical, then the cleaners are chemically identical.

Please consult your Facilities person to evaluate the MSDS for material composition similarity confirmation.

Is it OK to use bleach?
Many of our fabrics are safe to use with bleach, but not all. For a list of these materials, see the Finish Library and filter by “bleach cleanable.”

Directions for cleaning:

  • The spray should be enough to coat the surface of the fabric, but not to soak through to the substrate.
  • Be sure to spray the cleaner uniformly, in order to minimize the impact of the cleaner on material color and visual uniformity.

What about my Steelcase partner products?
Steelcase can only provide guidance on products we manufacture. For questions about products manufactured by our partner brands, refer to those manufacturers’ websites.

I don’t have bleach-cleanable materials on my chairs and/or panels.  What does Steelcase suggest in order to clean and disinfect them?
We are in the process of testing other cleaners and will update this information as we have it.

What about some of the cleaning technologies such as electrostatic chemical sprayers or UV light disinfecting systems? Are those safe and/or effective on Steelcase products?
Electrostatic disinfectant sprayers work by imparting a charge to a disinfectant spray as it leaves the tip of the spray nozzle. The charged droplets repel each other and seek out a surface in the area to attach to, even wrapping around surfaces in hard-to-reach places. This has pros and cons. On the plus side, they let you apply a disinfecting cleaner to a large area quickly and evenly and can be great if the interior is simple, with only a few different kinds of materials. The problem is, Steelcase interiors are rarely simple. A typical Steelcase interior has a wide range of surface materials, mechanisms, electronic and electrical components. So using an electrostatic sprayer means spraying all of these surfaces with the same disinfectant, which could damage some surfaces. Therefore, Steelcase doesn’t recommend using this method to clean interiors that include our products.

UVGI (UltraViolet Germicidal Irradiation) light disinfecting systems have not been broadly used by our customers on Steelcase products, and we consequently don’t have enough information to know how our materials will react to this type of disinfecting. These are some of the tests that our Materials Lab is currently conducting, and we hope to have more info soon. Until we have more data, we recommend using the products and techniques outlined on this page.