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How to Clean a Wheelchair: Quick & Easy Guide

By Maurice

How to Clean a Wheelchair

Whether you use your wheelchair daily or occasionally, it’s ideal to clean it on a regular basis. It doesn’t take long for dirt, germs, and grime to buildup in the inner corners of this mobility device, making it unhealthy and unhygienic.

On top of that, you obviously want to extend the life of your wheelchair and make sure that it lasts you a long time. After you've chosen the right wheelchair for your needs, proper maintenance is the key to extend that wheelchair’s lifespan. After all, it’s not something that you would want to buy every now and then, so it’s essential that you clean it regularly to keep it in a pristine condition.

Knowing how to clean a wheelchair is also important to prevent the bacteria or virus, especially if you suffer from an illness or a medical condition. You want to protect yourself from harm as well as those around you.

Take a look at our comprehensive guide on how to clean a wheelchair so that when it’s time for your next wheelchair cleaning session, you have all the right tools and products available for use.

A Guide on Wheelchair Cleaning

When it comes to wheelchair cleaning, it’s important to note that there are many parts accessories of a wheelchair that you need to clean, sanitize and disinfect one by one. While you should always clean the entire frame whenever you come from visiting a public place, these components need special care and attention because they are exposed to viral contamination more frequently.

We will break it down for you and walk you through every step so that you are able to clean your wheelchair perfectly.


This includes both front and rear wheels, and you should know that they are an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, germs, dust and dirt. If you tend to use your wheelchair outdoors a lot, the tires are likely to become super dirty every time you use it. Since they are in direct contact with the ground, they obviously collect dirt quicker than any other part of the wheelchair.

To clean the wheels, you can use your car or bicycle tire cleaner that you probably already have in your home. If not, you can easily grab one from your nearest store.

Apply the product on the wheels and scrub it with the help of a car wash glove, cleaning wipe or a paper towel. You will also find things like pebbles, leaves and twigs stuck between the spaces in the wheel and the best way to get them out is a tweezer or a long-handled brush, for instance.

Make sure to wipe off all the moisture from the wheels in order to prevent the chemicals in the tire cleaner from leaving any unwanted traces or marks on your floor. You can even use a hairdryer to remove loose dust from the hard-to-reach areas in the wheelchair tires.


Every time you use your wheelchair, you are likely to be using the handles for the most part, which means that the handles are in constant contact with your hands. This means that wheelchair handles are the main source of infection and can easily facilitate the transmission of viruses.

This also includes the push handles, especially if you have a caregiver pushing your wheelchair around. These are frequently touched places, and they need to be cleaned every single day to protect the wheelchair users from the threat of viruses.

There are two cleaning methods for wheelchair handles.

Firstly, you can take you regular sanitizer, apply a few drops on the handles and wipe down with a cleaning wipe or a piece of cloth. Secondly, you can create a solution of 75% alcohol with 25% water, spray it on the handles and wipe down the same way.

If you see any dust or dirt on the grip cover, use an old toothbrush to scrub it in order to remove germs, dust and all other harmful materials.


Like the handles, the armrests on your wheelchair are also a frequent contact component, and they need to be disinfected regularly.

Since the armrest pad on most wheelchairs is usually made of foam and leather, the best way to clean it is to wipe it with clean water and then dry it out with the help of a clean, dry cloth.

However, if you aren’t satisfied with using just water, you can opt for surface sanitizers that do a really good job at sanitizing germ-ridden spaces.

Cushion or Seats

The wheelchair seat or cushion is always in full contact with your body, so it’s important that you clean it on a daily basis. It can easily accumulate a strange odor which usually results due to sweating, spills or diaper leaks.

Even if your wheelchair cushion is waterproof, it can still absorb some amount of moisture which means you have to clean it regularly to prevent any kind of discomfort.

Common household ingredients are excellent for cleaning your wheelchair cushions as they both contain powerful absorbing properties that allow them to absorb strong odors and tough stains.

You can also use a sanitizer, leave it on the cushion for 15-20 minutes so that it soaks up the smells and then pat dry with a disposable cloth or paper towel. However, this is only suggested for light cleaning. For deep cushion cleaning, baking soda or vinegar will work best.

Brakes and Locks

These two are critical parts of a wheelchair and to ensure that they are always in good working order, you must wipe them regularly. Doing this will also help keep the brakes and locks free of dust and debris.

Either use water and a cloth to clean the wheelchair brakes and locks, or you can use a sanitizer as well and then wipe it properly with a cleaning cloth or paper towel.

While cleaning these parts, also check for loose nuts and bolts in order to ensure that everything is well aligned and that the wheelchair is working smoothly.

The Frame 

Once you clean all the wheelchair accessories and parts individually, you must do a last cleanup round of the entire frame.

For this, an all-purpose spray cleaner or a mild detergent would work best and give great results.

Apply either of these on the frame of your wheelchair and then wipe down with the help of a sponge or a brush. These two tools will help remove any stuck-on debris or grime without any problem.

Lastly, use a microfiber cloth to wipe the entire wheelchair to give it a nice, clean finish and shine.

Cleaning a Manual Wheelchair vs Cleaning an Electric Wheelchair

Knowing how to clean a wheelchair is one thing, but it’s a whole other thing when it comes to the type of wheelchair.

Manual and electric are the two major types of wheelchairs that are available, and both are cleaned in slightly different ways. The latter works through batteries and the former requires your hands in order to be propelled forward.

Manual Wheelchair

Best Wheelchairs for Elderly
  • Begin by separating the parts of the wheelchair that are removable such as the cushion and other similar fabric components.
  • Spray the dirt out from the crevices and gaps between the wheels with the help of compressed air.
  • Follow all the cleaning methods for each part mentioned above.
  • Make sure that all the parts, as well as the frame of the wheelchair, are completely dry before you use it again.
  • Reassemble the wheelchair, and you are good to use it.

Electric Wheelchair

electric wheelchair

  • Unplug the device from the power source and remove the chair from the base. Most electric wheelchairs have a lever or a button to help disconnect the base.
  • Remove the batteries carefully as they can easily be damaged during the cleaning process.
  • As with manual wheelchairs, use compressed air to blow out accumulated dust from the creases or hard-to-access areas near the battery region.
  • Follow the cleaning methods we mentioned earlier, but make sure that you stay away from the electrical areas.
  • Use an old brush to clean little spaces that are hard to access with other tools.
  • Make sure every part of the wheelchair is dry before you put the batteries back in their place and start using it again.

Final Word

Now that you know how to clean a wheelchair, make sure that you do it regularly without fail.

You will eventually realize that cleaning will extend its life and also keep it in a top-notch condition at all times.

As a rule of thumb, do a wheelchair cleaning session every time you come back from a public space. The sooner you clean it, the easier it will be for you to get rid of dirt, dust and debris before it gets accumulated in the hidden crevices and spaces.

Even if you don’t use your wheelchair outdoors and only use it indoors, it is best to clean it once in 2-3 days, if not every day in order to keep yourself as well as those around you safe from all kinds of health risks.

1 thought on “How to Clean a Wheelchair: Quick & Easy Guide”

  1. Maurice: Can you direct me to a company in the Toronto area that will clean and check a w/c. We are going to need it very soon as my Mom 96 will be coming out of hospital. We have a w/c but it has not been in use for 5 yrs, and needs a good cleaning. We are seniors ourselves, and would find the physical cleaning of the apparatus difficult in Winter. We can deliver and pick up the W/C ourselves. We live in the North end of Toronto. We have been told about $75.00, is this correct. Thank you. Please advise. Beverley

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