For over 100 years, Steelcase’s goal has been to provide the best products and service, and to offer guidance on how to maintain our customers’ investment. To this end, we’ve created our own internal test labs, where 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 in meeting customer demands 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 vs. Sanitizing vs. Disinfecting

We have received many questions about cleaning and disinfecting our products. Cleaning and disinfecting are not the same; cleaning products used for soil and stain removal may not be effective disinfectants. Conversely, products that disinfect may not be effective for soil and stain removal.

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

Lowers the number of germs on surfaces or objects to a safe level, as judged by public health standards or requirements. This process works by either cleaning or disinfecting surfaces or objects to lower the risk of spreading infection.

Refers to using chemicals, 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.

The Material Cleaning and Care Instructions from our Surface Materials Resources village page covers the use of major cleaner types on our surfaces, but do not make any claims regarding the level of disinfection. To address that, we are moving quickly to evaluate the compatibility of our products with cleaning and disinfecting products. Our most recent info is available on this page, and we are updating this as we have additional data.

Important Notes Regarding These Cleaning Instructions

  • 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, some of the mixtures can produce toxic fumes.
  • Ensure that proper ventilation is used, 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.
  • For the latest information on potential exposure pathways for COVID-19 infection, including contact with surfaces, please see the ECDC website.

Compatibility of Our Products with Common Healthcare Setting Cleaners

The cleaning guidelines for Steelcase products available in our Surface Materials Resources page are useful for standard everyday cleaning and stain removal.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we have begun the process of evaluating our products with more types of cleaning and disinfecting products (“cleaners” from this point forward) commonly used in healthcare settings.

This is a work in progress, so we are posting data as we confirm it. Here are our most current recommendations for use of these cleaners on high-touch areas of our products. Note that:

  • 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.

Steelcase Standard Hard Surfaces

For hard surfaces (including glass, metal, wood, laminate, paint, plastic), use disinfectants based on alcohol (Isopropyl alcohol Ethanol/Ethyl alcohol).

It is important that the surfaces are cleaned with a soft moist cloth, do not use abrasive agents/powders, steel wool, bleach, acidic cleaning agents or steam cleaning equipment.

Steelcase Standard Soft Surfaces

Use the Material Cleaning and Care Instructions in order to clean the fabrics. After the cleaning, in order to disinfect, the following standard patterns can be wiped with ethanol: Atlantic, Step, Step Melange, Hush, Xpress and Alterna.

Additionally, on the polyurethane fabrics (Alterna and Softex) you can also use a 10:1 water/bleach spray.

Directions for cleaning:

  • The spray should be enough to coat the surface of the fabric, but not to soak through to the substrate.
  • Test first in a small, inconspicuous spot before using widely.
  • Be sure to spray the cleaner uniformly, in order to minimize the impact of the cleaner on material color.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any other cleaning products besides the ones you suggest that are OK to use?

We recommend using cleaning products that have ethanol as the base. There are many available options in the market. Other cleaners may work, but for the moment, we don’t have data to their impact on the surface. We will continue to update this site as we learn more.

Is it OK to use bleach?

Bleach can be used only on the polyurethane fabrics in a 10:1 water/bleach spray. It is not OK to use bleach on polyester and wool fabrics.

Directions for cleaning:

  • The spray should be enough to coat the surface of the fabric, but not to soak through to the substrate, as we do not have data at this point about its impact on foam, glue and other materials that comprise products such as seating, only its impact on materials.
  • Be sure to spray the cleaner uniformly, in order to minimize the impact of the cleaner on material color.

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.

Are cleaning and disinfecting the same thing?

No, cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing do not mean the same thing.