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. If you have a ramp, your clean-up area could be at the top landing.
Learn more with “Reading Your Wheelchair Manual”.
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 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.
Wheelchair tire covers that fit on the tires are really helpful in preventing black marks on carpets and on hardwood floors. They can also prevent squealing on tile floors. This company sells wheelchair tire covers which fit on the tires. These covers are removable and machine washable. 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.
If you usually use your wheelchair outdoors, there are off-road wheelchair wheels that are best for street use, sidewalk use, or use on grassy areas. Again, check the company’s website where wheelchair racing products are available.
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!
This article updated for clarity and content on 2/17/21.