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Cleaning Wheelchair Wheels

Cleaning Wheelchair Wheels

Cleaning Wheelchair Wheels in a Dirty World

Your wheelchair wheels are likely to get dirty overtime. Mud and gravel, leaves and twigs and sleet and snow are out there, especially in rainy or wintry weather.  Both manual and electric wheelchairs gather dirt and debris wherever they may roll, and they will carry that stuff indoors too.  Certainly, you want to protect your floors and carpets from stains, grime and debris from the wheels. Cleaning wheelchair wheels is an important routine.

When you come indoors, it is best to have a place to pause and inspect your wheels, so you can see what’s stuck on them.  This area would be a place to have an outdoor mat with a rough turf-type surface or bristles. Clean your wheels while parked on the mat, then you can shake the debris from the mat out on the porch or into the trash can. It might be good to have a small vacuum cleaner close to your clean-up area.


For a Manual Wheelchair

Wipe off with cleaning wipes, damp paper towels, or a car washing mitt. Make sure that any chemical you use for cleaning wheelchair wheels will not get sticky or leave some unwanted results  on your floors. An all-purpose cleaner, like 409, will do the job. Some people recommend a bike tire cleaning chemical for wheelchair wheels. It is made to clean wheels and is usually harmless to floor surfaces. A car washing mitt will protect your hands and help you apply the tire cleaning chemical. The mitts are washable too, so you can save money on paper products. Wipe all moisture off the wheels.  You might dry your wheels  with a blow-dryer for a few minutes.

Cleaning the front casters of a manual chair requires a little more attention because you will have to rest the wheelchair on its side or prop it up on a table to get to them.   To get twigs, leaves, or animal fur out of the spokes or off the caster wheels, use something that could dislodge them, like a long-handled brush, toothbrush,  or even tongs or tweezers.  A compressed can of air or a blow dryer  may be helpful in safely and easily removing  loose debris.


Cleaning Wheels of a Power Chair

Cleaning the wheels of an electric wheelchair is a little more difficult because the wheels usually have deep tread on them, and they are more difficult to reach. First, unplug your chair for safety.  Do not apply fluids directly on electrical parts or battery of your power chair.

Again, wipes or a damp car washing mitt can help you wipe the surfaces of the tires.  A sturdy handled brush with strong bristles, like the kind usually used to clean car tires, is  helpful in dislodging stuck-on mud or gravel. Use compressed air  or a blow dryer to blow out any loose  dust, leaves or  twigs,  in the hard–to–get–to areas near the battery region and any other crevices in the wheelchair base. It may be difficult for the wheelchair-user to clean the wheels himself; a caregiver may need to do this.


Clean-wheel Helpers

There are some innovative products from RehaDesign to protect your wheels from gathering dirt wherever you roll and tracking it indoors. This company sells wheelchair tire covers  which fit on the tires and casters. These covers are removable and machine washable.  The company also has water-resistant neoprene covers for the back wheels that can cover the wheels in wet environments.  Check the company’s website for more information.

In some cities, there are companies which offer cleaning services for home-use wheelchairs, both power chairs and manual wheelchairs.


Wheelchair Washers

If you have a really dirty wheelchair, whether it’s just the wheels or the seat and frame too, you might ask a local  hospital  or nursing home about getting it washed in  their wheelchair washer. This is an appliance which cleans and sterilizes wheelchairs, and facilities which own   many wheelchairs usually have them. In some cities, there are companies which offer cleaning services for home-use wheelchairs, both power chairs and manual wheelchairs


Do you have a tip for cleaning wheelchair wheels?  Share it with us!

11 thoughts on “Cleaning Wheelchair Wheels

  1. I appreciate that you mentioned using a car washing mitt to protect your hands when you are using chemicals to clean the wheels. I never really thought about do that when cleaning. I’ll be sure to follow this advice so I don’t end up hurting my hands.

  2. How would someone describe to an engineer a residential doorway wheel cleaner that removes any rural yard foreign matter from the power chair of persons with weak or no limbs as results in diabetic or hypertension sufferers? It’s not that uncommon. Dialysis is on the rise.

  3. I have this problem. We have a gravel driveway that needs more gravel which is too expensive right now. I am my grandmother’s caregiver. Our home is always full of dust. I would probably have to dust 3 or 4 times a day to keep it completely clean. I clean and within hours the floors are filthy again. I think having a gravel area where her wheel chair runs through doesn’t help at all. I see a lot of gravel on our floors. I am going to power wash her wheels when she’s in bed once a month and use Thieves cleaner with paper towels to clean them the rest of the month. I can’t stand the smell of 409 cleaner so I’ll use the natural multi purpose cleaner that has actually cleaned other things better for me. I will try the tennis ball idea thanks for writing this.

  4. My power wheelchair caster tires have discolored and look terrible. They are otherwise ok but look really, really bad. I am embarrassed.

    Is there any detergent or bleaching agent that I can use that will work but not damage the rubber.


  5. If you have the manual for your wheelchair, you could look up what is recommended for cleaning your casters in the manual. Or, you could find the phone number for the wheelchair manufacturer and call their customer service number to ask them what they recommend. If your wheels are really in bad shape, it might be best to replace them completely rather than try to clean them up. Again, I suggest you call the manufacturer or the dealer to see about getting replacement wheels. If the wheelchair is under warranty, that might pay for the replacement wheels. I hope this helps. Let us know if you need more help. Thanks for contacting
    Georgia at

  6. What about a power chair that never goes outside but leaves black marks on vinyl floor..?? We washed wheels & floor & things were perfect…….. then gradually black marks appeared again ..?? The only other surface used is low pile carpet…… could dirty carpet get on wheels & then mark floors?? Please help! Thank you! Dianne

  7. Dianne,
    That doesn’t sound likely. Dirty carpet, perhaps but carpet causing the black marks on your floor isn’t likely. I guess anything is possible.

    I have seen wheelchair “socks” that fit over the wheels and protects the flooring, but that was for standard wheelchairs. Haven’t found any for power chairs.

    You might check with the manufacturer of the power chair. They may have an answer for you if thy have seen this problem before. Something like different type tire tread or material could be the answer.

    Hope this helps

  8. Any suggestions for cleaning the black path left on carpet from dirt or black rubber wheels on the scooter?

  9. My client has tile floors. When I was polishing her woodwork I accidentally got pledge( furniture polish) on the floor( overspray) , my client then got it on her wheelchair wheels, which proceeded to squeal on the floor. I scrubbed the floor and the wheels only to find that they still squeal. I’ve cleaned both multiple times now to no avail which is driving us both crazy. Can anyone help please?

  10. Well that’s an interesting problem,
    normally I would say an alcohol based product like Windex. However, Pledge is not a wax. From what i can find on the internet, the best thing to try is a”degreaser” type product, like Dawn dishwashing liquid mixed in warm water.
    Remember, if the client has been rolling thru the over spray and coated the wheels, then it’s probably spread around.
    It’s a problem I know. I once waxed my kitchen floors using the wrong product and discovered my bare feet would squeek when I walked on them.
    I ended up having to strip the floors and start over. :o(
    I hope you don’t have to go to all that trouble.
    Good luck.

  11. I have a new power wheelchair that leaves black residue on my hardwood floors and black tracks on my carpet. This chair is 6 months old & still under warranty but the dealer says they have no solution?? Please help if you can!

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