When a wheelchair is used daily, it doesn’t take long for dirt and grime to build up. The wheelchair may also need to be cleaned as a result of illness, incontinence, or a medical condition. To keep the wheelchair fresh and hygienic, it’s important to put in the time and effort needed to clean your wheelchair properly.
To prevent the buildup of dirt from everyday use, wipe down the chair regularly. You can do this daily or a couple of times per week, depending on how often the wheelchair is used. If you let dirt build up, the efficiency of the brakes and wheels can be affected. A quick wipe down will keep the chair clean, prevent the buildup of grime, and keep the wheelchair operating properly.
Wondering how to clean a wheelchair? You’re in the right place. In this guide, we go through everything you need to know.
What You’ll Need
Before learning how to clean your wheelchair, it’s important to read the maintenance instructions for any materials or products to avoid. The following products can be used on most chairs and will help to achieve great results.
- All-Purpose Cleaning Spray
- Disinfectant Spray
- Compressed Air Duster
- Mild Detergent
- Microfiber Cloth
- Cleaning Brush
- Wire Brush
Electric VS Manual
There are two main types of wheelchairs: electric and manual. The feature that differentiates electric chairs from manual is that they are propelled by batteries, while manual chairs are propelled using your hands.
Electric wheelchairs come with various speed adjustment features and you can often choose between front-wheel drive, mid-wheel drive, and rear-wheel drive. If you’re looking for something with a good turning circle, go for a mid-wheel design. If you’re after something with speed, opt for a rear-wheel model.
Manual wheelchairs, on the other hand, are propelled by turning the large wheels with your hands or by someone pushing it from behind using the handles. Because of this, manual wheelchairs are usually lightweight.
Obviously, you’ll need to clean electric wheelchairs in a slightly different way to manual models. As they are electric, you need to be careful not to damage the components. Later, we explore the step by step instructions for cleaning both a manual wheelchair and an electric one.
Cleaning the Different Parts
If you’re using the wheelchair outside, the wheels can become dirty very quickly. Even if you only use the chair indoors, the tires can still become grubby. To clean the wheels, you can use a bicycle or car tire cleaner.
To avoid transferring dirt from outside into your home, you can use wheel covers on your wheelchair. Some people prefer to have two chairs, one for indoor use and the other for outdoor use. That way, the inside wheels won’t be as dirty, so they won’t need to be cleaned as often.
However, many people can’t afford to have two chairs or prefer to have just one. This means that the wheels need to be cleaned before the chair is brought inside. Remember to use a cleaner than doesn’t stain indoor flooring.
With a manual wheelchair, you need to keep the wheels as clean as possible to minimize the dirt transferred to the user’s hands when they are moving.
If the user suffers from incontinence or wears an adult diaper, wheelchair cushions can accumulate a slight odor. Odors can also build up from spills or sweating if they aren’t washed regularly. Even waterproof cushions can absorb a small amount of liquid, so they need to be cleaned too.
It’s best to clean the cushion at the end of the day when the wheelchair isn’t being used. This will also give it enough time to dry out before being used again. To best cushion cleaners are those made from vinegar or baking soda as they are great at absorbing odors.
For best results, use a mild detergent or all-purpose spray to clean the chair’s frame. Any brush or sponge can be used to remove stuck-on grime, but the cleaning process should be finished with a microfiber cloth to give the frame a nice shine.
Instructions for Cleaning an Electric Chair
- Unplug the chair from its power source and disconnect the base. Most chairs can easily be removed using a button or lever.
- If there is a protective cover over the battery, remove it. Then carefully remove the battery to avoid damaging it during the cleaning process.
- Use a can of compressed air to blow out any dirt, dust, or debris from the battery area, and any other creases around the base of the chair.
- Spray the chair base with disinfectant and let it sit for ten minutes. Make sure you don’t spray the electrical areas. After ten minutes, carefully wipe the base with a microfiber cloth.
- Use a toothbrush to clean any dirty spots, including the joystick area. You can also use the toothbrush to clean the wheelchair tires.
- Repeat steps four and five for the battery cover.
- Use a vacuum cleaner to go over the seat cushion. If the cushion is vinyl, hand wash it with warm water and mild detergent. If it’s leather, use a spray solution of one-quarter water, three-quarters vinegar and wipe clean with a cloth. If the cushion is fabric, use a mixture of mind dish soap, hot water, and cleaning soda. Use a cleaning brush to rub the mixture into the cushion and remove using hot water.
- Once you’ve finished cleaning the base and cover, spray the chair again with compressed air to remove leftover dust. Put the wheelchair back together and wipe away any remaining water with a microfiber cloth.
Instructions for Cleaning a Manual Wheelchair
- Take the wheelchair apart by removing the seat and back cushions and any other fabric parts.
- Use a can of compressed air to spray dirt from the wheel spokes and any crevices. Dirt, debris, and hair can get caught in these areas and affect mobility.
- Mix warm water and mild dish soap. Soak a microfiber cloth in the soapy mixture before wringing it out and wiping down the frame. You can also use the antibacterial cleaner if necessary.
- Use a damp cloth to clean around the wheels and between the wheel spokes. If necessary, use a wire brush to scrub the wheel bolts to remove grease or dirt.
- Use a clean towel to dry the frame, wheels, and bolts to prevent rust. You can then use the compressed air can again to remove any leftover dust.
- When everything is dry, reassemble the wheelchair.
So, there you have it – how to clean a wheelchair. Whether you’ve got an electric chair or a manual model, follow the instructions above to keep your wheelchair clean. To prevent dirt from building up, set a routine cleaning schedule with weekly wipe-downs and a monthly deep-clean.