How to Clean Your Eames Chair

Written by theodora pennypacker
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Once modestly priced, Eames furnishings are now coveted as luxurious hallmarks of modern design. Eames chairs in particular have gained popularity, and they are available in a wide variety of models and colours. As with any valuable item, owners need to take care and consideration when maintaining their Eames chairs. It is always best to leave any re-upholstery or refinishing needs to professional restorers---but there are some simple cleaning techniques anyone can employ to dramatically revamp a lacklustre Eames chair.

Eames chairs were engineered from innovative manufacturing processes that transformed humble materials like plastic, plywood and aluminium into functional seating. The following guidelines explain how to clean Eames classics like the Eiffel Chair, the Molded Plywood Chair and the Management Chair.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Sponge
  • Baking soda
  • Cleaning rag
  • Soft cloth
  • High-quality car wax
  • Solvent-based cleaning wax
  • Paper towel
  • Lemon
  • Salt

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    Clean and Polish the Molded Plastic on an Eiffel Chair

  1. 1

    Dip a damp sponge in baking soda and scrub away at any grime on the chair. Repeat if necessary.

  2. 2

    With a cleaning rag, wipe away any moisture left on the chair and allow it to dry completely.

  3. 3

    Use a clean, soft cloth and apply a high-quality car wax to the chair. Treat as per the brand's instructions.

    Clean and Polish Your Molded Plywood Chair

  1. 1

    Lightly vacuum or dust the chair with a cleaning rag.

  2. 2

    Dip a clean, soft cloth in solvent-based cleaning wax until it is just barely damp.

  3. 3

    Buff the surface with the treated cloth to lift more dust and dirt. Immediately wipe clean with a dry paper towel.

    Clean the Aluminum on a Management Chair

  1. 1

    Dip a cleaning rag in diluted dish soap and wipe down the aluminium chassis.

  2. 2

    To remove any scuff marks or oxidation, dip a lemon half in salt and lightly rub it on the affected area. Wipe away the residual juice and excess salt with a damp sponge.

  3. 3

    Rinse the chassis thoroughly with water and towel dry.

Tips and warnings

  • While Eames chairs can be obtained as authentic vintage pieces, their original designs continue to be manufactured today. Even though today's Eames chair fabrication is based on the original design, they often employ different materials. For instance, the iconic Eiffel chair is now composed of eco-friendly polypropylene instead of fibreglass-reinforced plastic. As a result, these new chairs do not need to be cleaned with nothing more than warm, sudsy water.
  • Ensure your chair responds well to these cleaning methods by testing on an inconspicuous area first.
  • When cleaning your chair, never use abrasive cleaners. Always stick to natural or mild agents like white vinegar, baking soda and diluted dish soap. If you have made no progress with your own cleaning efforts, you can seek the services of a professional restorer. While it's ideal to use a mid-century furniture specialist, an auto-body shop may also be able to recondition your chair.

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