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Last Updated on April 10, 2022

Like anything you own, it’s important to maintain and clean your wheelchair. From disinfecting seat cushions to lubricating the wheels, it’s important to know how to maintain your device. In addition to cleaning, it’s imperative to know the basics of power wheelchair maintenance and manual wheelchair maintenance, depending on the chair you have.

Image of a blue and white handicap sign for an article about the basics of wheelchair maintenance and cleaning.

A 2017 online survey conducted by PatientsLikeMe asked questions to power wheelchair users. The results showed that 56 percent of people surveyed had parts of their power wheelchair break or malfunction, which can be very dangerous. Read on to learn about wheelchair maintenance, how to clean a wheelchair, and your wheelchair maintenance checklist.

Wheelchair Seat Cushions

One of the first things you should pay attention to with wheelchair maintenance is to have a clean and disinfected seat cushion. Most seat cushions have a cover, and you will clean the cover and the cushion separately. There are valves on seat cushions, so close them before cleaning. Each manufacturer’s instructions will read a little differently, but most advise using a damp cloth with some detergent, followed by a disinfectant. Make sure to use gloves when using any disinfectant, and also ensure the type you’re using is safe for your particular cushion.

How to Clean a Manual Wheelchair

To clean a manual wheelchair, clean and disinfect the parts used most often, such as the armrests, front frame, wheel locks, and hand rims. If hair becomes stuck in seat upholstery, use a pet brush to remove it. It’s important to clean all parts of the wheelchair, but ensure those that often are touched by other people are thoroughly disinfected.

How to Clean a Power Wheelchair

Electric wheelchair maintenance and cleaning will differ from manual wheelchair maintenance slightly. For a power wheelchair, you should have a wheelchair cleaning checklist that reads something like:

  • Clean power wheelchairs often
  • Visually inspect for wear, tear, or broken parts
  • Tighten hardware, such as seating components and the headrest
  • Visually inspect back supports and cushions
  • Make adjustments if needed
  • Ensure you always have batteries on hand

Part of wheelchair maintenance and cleaning is to ensure all components are turned off for safety as you clean. Parts of a power wheelchair that get the dirtiest are the footplate, joystick, and joystick receiver. Use a foaming cleanser on these components, and follow with disinfectant. Be sure everything is completely dry before using the wheelchair again, and never use any flowing water (such as a hose) to clean it. Your power wheelchair should be cleaned with a foaming cleanser, mild detergent, and damp rags.

Wheelchair Maintenance and Cleaning: Other Things to Note

Thinking about wheelchair maintenance, if you’re wondering how to clean wheelchair wheels, you can also use mild detergent and a wet cloth to clean them. If your wheels or their components need lubrication, WD-40 is a good choice. Ensure that manual and power wheelchair wheels are dry before using the wheelchair again. If the casters on the wheels need cleaning, such as if they are clogged from hair, remove the wheels first, then clean the casters.

Also, never use a hose or a power washer for wheelchair maintenance and cleaning. This applies to manual and power wheelchairs, as it could damage them.

To learn more about wheelchair maintenance and cleaning, or to hear about mobility products that can be life-changing, such as power recliners and wheelchair ramp installation, contact us today at Williams Lift Co. We want both patients and their caregivers to live their best lives.