Sanitization - Cleaning a Power Wheelchair



Cleaning a Power Wheelchair




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




The wheelchair should be cleaned thoroughly before re-assigning.




Supplies and Tools


Cleaning will require the following tools and supplies:

            Vacuum cleaner or air compressor

            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

            Carpet-spotting towels

            Car wax


Getting Ready


The person cleaning and sanitizing the power wheelchair should follow the handwashing hygiene instructions before beginning, and should wear 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.


The battery should be disconnected and removed.


Cleaning the Chair


The power wheelchair should never be washed with a hose or otherwise showered with water. This poses a serious risk of rust to the metal and corrosion for the electrical system. Extreme care must be taken not to damage the wheelchair’s power controls with liquids.


A pre-packaged alcohol or anti-bacterial wipe may be used to carefully clean the power controls. After being allowed to air dry, the controls should be stored in a clear plastic bag while cleaning the other parts of the power wheelchair.


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. Wires and cords should not be tangled because this poses a risk with moving parts. Electrical connections should be free of dirt and corrosion. The frame should be free of cracks.


A vacuum cleaner or air compressor may be used (with care) to clear all loose dust and dirt from the frame, the undercarriage, the wheels, and any accessories attached to the frame. All dirt, debris, string and hair should be cleared from the wheels. This may require tweezers or picks. [Petroleum-based oil should not be used 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 cleaning steps are a prelude to repair. At this point a qualified service person should check the power 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. This may be a spray-and-wipe product that does not require rinsing or a commercial cleaner that mixes with water. Carpet-spotting towels are also useful in cleaning scooters and power chairs.


A cloth dampened in a solution of mild detergent in water (with all the water wrung from it) may be used to clean the frame. 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 equipment should be allowed to air dry completely (at least 10 minutes) before permitting anything to come into contact with the sanitized surfaces.


When the wheelchair is dry, car wax may be applied to the frame. All accessories should be reattached and the power 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 Power Wheelchair
Module: Program Operations
Author: Trish Redmon
Audience: Implementer
Sub Title:
Organization Source: Pass It On Center
Last Reviewed: 10-25-2009 6:12 PM