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I recently bought a new office chair. It smells strongly of whatever chemicals it was treated with in the factory it was made in. I tend to get allergic reactions to unwashed clothes, and I believe that whatever the chair was treated with has been triggering my allergies.

What can I do to remove whatever chemical residue it has? I've had it for about two weeks so far and it doesn't seem to be much better than it was when I got it. Googling, most of what I saw was advice on how to spot-treat stains, which doesn't help me here.

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    I would wheel it out into the courtyard and let it sit in the sun and fresh air for a day. – Jimmy Fix-it Aug 26 '14 at 12:12
  • I doubt you can do much if it still smells strongly after two weeks. You could leave it to air for a few months. I'd call the store, explain the problem and get a refund. I've done this before for furniture items. – RedGrittyBrick Aug 26 '14 at 14:48
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In all probability, you're probably smelling volatile organic compounds in the glue and other chemicals used in the process of making the chair.

If this is your problem, there's not much you can do, other than to air the chair out completely.

Can you set it outside for a day or two (protected from the elements and pilferage)?

If outside isn't an option, set it near an open window and point a box fan or similar at it for a couple of days.

  • It's already been sitting around (albeit indoors) for two weeks, though. Would it make much more of a difference to put it outside? – Patrick Collins Aug 26 '14 at 12:20
  • Yep, certainly would. You have better air circulation outside, and there's a whole lot of fresh air flowing around compared to indoors (regardless of how efficiently your air handling works). – alt Aug 26 '14 at 17:49
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Depending upon the chair's manufacture, you may smell urea formaldehyde, to which many people are sensitive. If it's parked outdoors, exposed to rain and wind, nature will remove most of that UF for you... but it may take some time even outdoors. Direct sunlight won't be any good for the chair, so a shady spot would be called for, but the wide-open ventilation you can only get outdoors will blow most of the fumes away as rapidly as they can exit the chair, and rain will help rinse more fumes out of the chair faster.

  • If the chair can hold up to rain (doubtful), why not just hose it down with a sprinkler? – bib Aug 26 '14 at 13:22
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    @bib, that's a fine practice, but rain will supply more water... and it's free. 8) – TDHofstetter Aug 26 '14 at 13:35

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