7 Simple Steps to Clean Office Chair Caster Wheels
Those little ‘wheels’ on the bottom of your office chair are great for zipping around the office.
However, when those wheels stop working as they should, it becomes more of a struggle than a convenience.
The wheels become clogged with dirt, hair and other debris. Luckily, cleaning the wheels is an easy process.
Before we look at the seven simple steps to clean office chair caster wheels, did you know casters are not a wheel?
Most people define a caster as a wheel, but it’s more than that. It is, however, important to know the difference between the two.
Okay, we all know what wheels are - a round object with a hole in the center. Take the wheels on a car, for example. Wheels are used mainly for mechanical purposes.
While the wheel was invented 5000 years ago, casters were first patented only 150 years ago.
My guess is you’re more interested in learning about casters. So let’s look at what makes up a caster.
The mount is the part of the caster used to attach it to the item it's designed to transport.
● A top plate (a small, square metal plate with one hole drilled in each corner)
● A stem (a screw or a bolt fitted into a single large hole, and drilled into the item)
Also known as a fork, a bracket, housing or a rig, the yoke provides a frame for the wheel. It attaches to the top plate by screws or welding. Some casters are formed with the top plate and yoke molded together.
Only used on swivel casters, these can rotate 360 degrees. It is fixed to the mount and the yoke. It usually contains bearings and grease for the mechanism to retain its swiveling capabilities for the entirety of its lifetime.
Shock absorption features and spring mechanisms are used on items where comfort is important. A single coiled steel spring will cushion the caster when a load is placed on top of it.
● Solid Wheels (made from one single material)
● Bonded Wheels (the solid core and tread are made from a different material)
The tread is then bonded to the core.
The different materials used in caster wheels are:
These are small metal balls positioned around the wheel and fastened by a metallic ring, known as a race. Rather than the caster rotating around a central axle, the ball bearings force the outer part of the wheel to rotate around the central wheel hub.
Using ball bearings allows for easier motion. As ball bearings are usually made from steel, the ball bearing assemblies should be kept lubricated to ensure the caster continues to operate as it should.
This part attaches the wheel to the yoke. Either a nut is used to affix the bolt, or the axle is molded to the yoke.
Now that you understand the parts that of a caster let’s look at how to clean them properly.
How to Clean Office Chair Caster Wheels
1. Flip It
Turn your chair upside down onto the floor with the wheels sticking up. Grab another chair to sit on, giving you access to the wheels and saving your back.
2. Scrape It
Don’t even consider throwing the wheels in hot water until you’ve completed this step!
Use your fingers to remove any stickers, paper, or stuck paper clips
Remove any stuck debris using a butter knife. The knife can slide through the slots and under the wheel cover. If you have gum stuck to your wheels, use the knife with some rubbing alcohol.
Be gentle and be sure not to create any gouges in the plastic wheels, since this may prevent them from rolling smoothly.
Grab some tweezers to remove any hair that could be caught in the wheel. If you don’t have any tweezers, try using tape to remove any small pieces of debris.
3. De-Wheel It
Most chairs allow you to pull the wheels off. However, some require you to use a screwdriver.
4. Clean It
If you’re certain your wheels don’t need a deep clean, use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels. Make sure you wipe around the wheel cover and the inside as well.
Use cotton swabs to get into the hard to reach places.
If you think your wheels need a more intensive treatment, put them in warm, soapy water and allow to soak for 5 to 10 minutes. Take it out and scrub clean. Rinse under a cold tap.
5. Dry It
Dry each wheel carefully. You don’t want to leave any moisture inside the wheel, or it can accumulate more dirt or cause squeaking.
Use a clean rag, paper towel, or even a hairdryer.
6. Lubricate It
Using a spray lubricant, spray a little inside each wheel. Wipe off any excess to avoid attracting more dirt.
7. Re-Wheel It
Pop or screw the wheels back on!
If you discover that your casters may be broken and need to be replaced, read our article for replacement tips here.
● Using a chair mat keeps your wheels cleaner for longer.
● When purchasing a lubricant, first check what type of wheels you have. If they are plastic, use a silicone lubricant. If they are metal, use a greaseless lubricant. The wrong kind of lubricant can mean your wheels continue to attract dirt after you’ve taken the time to clean them.
● After you’ve cleaned the wheels, vacuum the area - you don’t want to ruin all your efforts!
Knowing how to clean your office chair caster wheels, allows you to restore your chair to its proper working order.
Cleaned office chair caster wheels are quieter, smoother and more reliable.
Every six months, give your wheels another cleaning to keep them working to their full potential, allowing you to do the same.