Sanitization - Cleaning a Manual Wheelchair



Cleaning a Manual Wheelchair





Before re-assignment, the wheelchair must be cleaned to protect the next user from potential harm from microbial contaminants, and to enhance the appearance of the equipment.




The wheelchair should be cleaned thoroughly before re-assigning.



Cleaning will require the following tools and supplies:

            Commercial alcohol or anti-bacterial wipes

            Clean cloths or disposable wipes

            Warm water

            Mild detergent

            Spray-and-wipe or commercial cleaning product for resistant stains

            Car wax

            Tweezers or pick


The person cleaning and sanitizing the wheelchair should follow the handwashing hygiene instructions before beginning, and should put on disposable gloves to minimize risk of infection. Some microorganisms are capable of surviving on solid surfaces for several days. All disinfecting should be done in a designated area that restricts the exposure of others. The person performing the cleaning procedures may wish to wear a mask to avoid inhaling particulate from cleaning or odors from the cleaning chemicals.


If checking the chair for potential repair, it may be desirable to disassemble it, but this is not necessary for routine cleaning and disinfection. However, the person cleaning may perform some routine checking and provide notes on needed maintenance to a qualified service person. The frame should be free of cracks.


All dirt, debris, string and hair must be cleared from the wheels. This may require tweezers or a pick. [It is not appropriate to use petroleum-based oil to lubricate any part of a wheelchair. The service person should handle this, but if lubrication is necessary for the smooth functioning of parts, an all-purpose silicone lube spray should be used.]


These preliminary steps in cleaning are a prelude to repair. At this point a qualified service person should check the wheelchair. After necessary repairs or preventative maintenance, cleaning should be completed.


Visible stains should be removed first. This may require the use of commercial products designed to remove blood, grease, protein and food stains. It may be a spray-and-wipe product that does not require rinsing or a commercial cleaner that mixes with water.


To clean the frame, a solution of mild detergent and water should be used. A cloth should be dampened and all the water wrung from it. The wheelchair frame, any metal attachments, and the waterproof seat should be wiped. All surfaces, including those on the bottom, should be wiped thoroughly. After wiping, the wheelchair should be allowed to air dry completely (at least 10 minutes) before permitting anything to come into contact with the sanitized surfaces.


When dry, car wax can be applied to the frame, all accessories reattached, and the wheelchair stored in a clean area.


"Maintaining Your Wheelchair," WisTech Assistive Technology Program, Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services/ Division of Disability and Elder Services. Retrieved November 26, 2007, from

"Sanitizing Durable Medical Equipment," Kansas Equipment Exchange (KEE) Network Training. Retrieved November 26, 2007, from







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This work is supported under a five-year cooperative agreement # H235V060016 awarded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, and is administered by the Pass It On Center of the Georgia Department of Labor – Tools for Life.  However, the contents of this publication do not necessarily represent the policy or opinions of the Department of Education, or the Georgia Department of Labor, and you should not assume endorsements of this document by the Federal government or the Georgia Department of Labor.


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Other Information

Title: Sanitization - Cleaning a Manual Wheelchair
Module: Program Operations
Author: Trish Redmon
Audience: Implementer
Sub Title:
Organization Source: Pass It On Center
Last Reviewed: 10-25-2009 6:11 PM