Sanitizing your wheelchair regularly will keep it in good working order and can also limit your exposure to bacteria and viruses. But, it can be scary to approach the task for the first time, especially for those who use their wheelchair full-time. Here’s everything you know about how to clean a wheelchair.
How Often Do I Need to Clean My Wheelchair?
How often you should clean your wheelchair depends on a few factors:
- How many hours a day you use your wheelchair
- How often you leave the house/go outside in your wheelchair
- If you live on your own or in a senior care facility/group setting
- If you have any conditions that compromise your immune system
- If you have any skin conditions or allergies
If you use your wheelchair frequently, live in a group setting, or have any existing health conditions, you’ll likely want to spot clean your wheelchair weekly and deep clean it monthly.
How Not to Clean a Wheelchair
Before we dig into how to clean your mobility device, let’s go over some common mistakes that people make that can affect the lifespan of their mobility equipment.
1. Never Spray or Submerge Your Wheelchair in Water
One of the most common mistakes we see people make when learning how to clean a wheelchair is power-washing or submerging their mobility equipment in water. Even if you use a manual wheelchair, getting your wheelchair fully wet can accelerate rusting and cause issues with functionality.
2. Don’t Confuse Cleaning & Sanitizing
Many wheelchair owners are seeking to kill germs and bacteria on their wheelchair. However, the all-purpose cleaners we often use don’t actually sanitize and kill germs – they just remove dirt and grime.
If you’re looking to kill bacteria and avoid getting sick from germs on your wheelchair, make sure you choose a method that truly sanitizes your mobility equipment.
3. Never Use Harsh Cleaners or Solvents
The next mistake we see wheelchair users make is using bleach or harsh chemicals on their chair that can damage it or shorten its lifespan. Since your skin comes in direct contact with your wheelchair, harsh cleaners and chemicals can even cause skin irritations and allergic reactions. While sanitization is incredibly important, it’s important to choose a gentle method that won’t harm your wheelchair or your skin.
4. Don’t Try to Clean Your Wheelchair Alone
Finally, know your personal level of mobility and don’t be afraid to ask for help when learning to how to clean a wheelchair. Whether you need assistance transferring in and out of your wheelchair or need someone else to clean your wheelchair for you, don’t be afraid to ask for help! If you’re unable to get help from a friend or family member, look into a wheelchair sanitization service that will come to you!
How to Clean a Wheelchair: 5 Easy Steps
While monthly or yearly deep cleanings require help from a professional, weekly cleanings are totally doable at home. Here’s everything you need to know about the proper way to clean a wheelchair to stay healthy and safe.
1. Remove & Wash Cushions and Accessories
The first step in cleaning your wheelchair is to remove any separate elements like cushions, covers, and storage bags/bins. Cushion covers can be removed and washed in the washing machine on the gentle cycle or in a protective mesh bag.
The details on how to clean a foam wheelchair cushion will vary brand to brand. Always check the instructions on the tag or in your owner’s manual before washing or submerging your seat cushions. If you can’t find info on how to clean your specific wheelchair cushions, we recommend sitting them out in the sun to kill germs and remove any odors.
2. Choose a Gentle Cleaning Agent
The next step in learning how to clean a wheelchair is to choose safe cleaning products. While steam is the best cleaning option for your wheelchair, most people don’t have access to a steam cleaner in their homes. The next best option is a gentle, all-purpose, non-toxic cleanser that will remove dirt and debris without harming your chair. Never use bleach or harsh cleaning agents on your wheelchair, no matter how dirty it is.
You’ll also need a soft, clean cloth. While a scrubbing sponge or stiff-bristled brush may seem easier, a soft cloth and a little elbow grease is the best option.
3. Wipe Down Your Wheelchair Frame
Next, wipe down the entire wheelchair frame from top to bottom. Spray your cleaner onto your cloth, rather than onto the frame to avoid moisture from getting into tight spots and causing rust.
Then wipe down your entire wheelchair carefully, adding more cleaner to your cloth as needed. Pay special attention to places where your body makes contact with your wheelchair, including arm rests, foot rests, hand rims, push handles, and wheel locks.
4. Re-Lubricate Wheels & Axles
The axle is one of the most overlooked areas by those learning how to clean a wheelchair – but it is a common place where dirt builds up. We recommend cleaning the axle last so that you don’t spread dirt, grease, and lubricant to the rest of your chair. After cleaning the axle thoroughly, you’ll need to re-lubricate it with a silicone-based lubricant according to your owner’s manual.
5. Deep Clean Your Wheelchair Monthly
Weekly cleanings should prevent any major build-up from forming on your wheelchair. However, it’s still a good idea to get a professional deep clean once a month. Our trained technicians offer chemical-free steam cleaning that is lab-tested not only to clean, but to sanitize, killing 99% of bacteria and viruses.
Especially if you live in a senior care facility or group housing, learning how to clean a wheelchair properly and getting monthly deep cleanings is key to staying healthy and well.