Wheelchair COVID Safe Tips for cleaning and disinfection

So we all know that proper wheelchair maintenance is a reality of life. An imperative. I remember someone saying to me once if you want your chair to look after you, you have to look after your chair. True that!

So, in our 5 General wheelchair care and maintenance tips article, we unpacked the how’s and when’s of exactly what is involved in chair care. Giving a suggested breakdown of what to do, when.

Well, while all of that still applies, with the introduction of COVID to our universe, things have stepped up a notch. And, it would be irresponsible of us not to address the elephant in the room, COVID, and wheelchair care.

Think of it as normal wheelchair care on steroids. This is about your life and those around you. More specifically, it’s about ensuring your chair is not a vehicle of contamination.

So, the WHO has given some essential recommendations to prevent CO-VID transmission. I am sure you are quite familiar with them. Notably social distancing, frequent hand-washing, and intensive cleaning of regularly used surfaces and products ie your chair.

So, with Covid in mind, here are some tips and guidelines to help you disinfect your wheelchair on a daily basis and thus prevent the spread of the virus.

How to COVID-CLEANSE your wheelchair

So, let’s be clear. Cleaning is not sterilizing.
Cleaning removes dirt and germs from the surface.
Disinfecting kills the germs.

Under normal circumstances, cleaning your chair would be sufficient.
Sadly, these are not normal circumstances.
Disinfecting is the current name of the game.

So the ideal formula is to clean and wipe down your chair at the end of every day. As you usually would. Assuming you do. And thereafter disinfect your chair using sanitiser (for surfaces). These products are labeled as bactericidal and virucidal. On average they contain at least a 70% alcohol solution. Whichever product you choose, and there are many, read the instructions carefully. And make sure the chosen disinfectant is safe for use on a mobility chair before application.

“Think of it as normal wheelchair care on steroids. This is about your life and those around you. And it’s about ensuring your chair is not a vehicle of contamination.”

Tips for disinfecting your wheelchair

  1. If you don’t yet, now is the time to get in the habit of cleaning your wheelchair every time you visit a public place like a supermarket.
  2. All contact surfaces and surfaces frequently touched by users and caregivers need to be santised. So, hand rims, brakes, armrests, handles,
    and the like.
  3. Disinfectant wipes are the easiest to use. So once you have finished cleaning – apply the sanitiser generously.
  4. Leave the sanitiser on the surface for at least 15 minutes. Thereafter, wipe it down again and rinse with an aseptic cloth.
  5. The joystick on an electric wheelchair can be cleaned with a damp cloth and a diluted sanitiser.
  6. Make sure all the above-mentioned surfaces are rinsed with clean water and dried thoroughly after disinfection. This is important, as damp surfaces encourage rust and damages your chair. So as a rule, never use a wet cloth. Slightly damp is the aim.
  7. ALSO, VERY IMPORTANT, DO NOT use solvents, bleaches, abrasives, synthetic detergents, wax enamels, or sprays.
    In short, stick to wipes. They are just easier to apply and easier to remove.

Care of your wheelchairs critical components

If all of the above is just a little more than you can manage on a day-to-day basis.
And a complete clean of the entire frame is unrealistic. Then we recommend that at the very least, you commit to sterilising your critical components.
Think high contact = high contagion areas.
Remember this is your health and the health of your loved ones, that is at stake.

So, if time is of the essence, focus on the following: your cushion, armrests, hand-rims, wheels, and handles.

  • Cushion: Your seat cushion and back cushion are in permanent contact with your body. On an average day, they accumulate a significant amount of sweat and dirt and are thus the perfect gathering ground for a host of bacteria. Try and disinfect your cushion at least once a day. Wipe it down. Leave it for about 15 minutes and then dry it off with disposable paper or dry cloth.
  • Armrests: As per the above. The armrest is another high contact, high contagion area, to be included in your daily disinfect list. Apply sanitiser in the same manner as you did with the cushion. Leave for 15 minutes and dry off.
  • Joystick and hand-rims: Very important! Do not forget to disinfect your joystick (in the case of an electric wheelchair) or in the case of a manual wheelchair, your hand-rims. These two components are in full contact with your hands, sweat, bacteria, and generally all nature of unclean things. And they consequently host concentrated amounts of germs and require daily sterilisation.
  • Wheels: Your wheels are in constant direct contact with the ground and even under the best of circumstances are riddled with germs. Use soapy water to wash them down, and then dry thoroughly.
  • Handles: When it comes to CO-VID, your handles are probably one of the most high-risk, high-contact points on your chair. They are usually in contact with many hands, inevitably facilitating the transmission of the virus. Clean and sanitise them as per above with bactericidal and virucidal.

If you do not use a chair, but use products such as crutches or canes, please follow the same recommendations as above. Disinfect all high-risk, high contact points as often as possible. For more advice regarding the care and sanitisation of your chair, contact WINFAR.