A recent cleaning session in the shed got me thinking about how to clean a wheelchair cushion.
Since my grandfather got a new power wheelchair, we needed to donate the old one, but it was dusty.
It is not advisable to submerge the mobility device in water, so we resolved to research the best practices for cleaning dirty seat cushions.
Read on to learn about the different wheelchair cushion types and how to clean them.
- There are various wheelchair cushion types to consider.
- Most wheelchair cushions are not machine washable.
- Cushion manufacturers include a manual highlighting how to wash the accessory.
How to Clean Different Types of Wheelchair Cushions?
1. Air Cushions
If you have wondered how to clean a wheelchair cushion filled with air, it is essential to know that you should close the air valve before cleaning.
You can wash the cushions with warm water and use vinegar or baking powder to deodorize them.
Follow up with an air drying process to let the moisture content escape.
Moreover, note that you should never use a washing machine or dryer to clean these cushion types.
Check out this YouTube video on how to clean ROHO air cushions, a type of air technology-based cushion.
2. Fluid-Filled and Gel Cushions
You will need two items to wash these cushion types: fresh water and soap. Use a towel to dry the excess moisture and air dry the cushions.
You should avoid using a washing machine or dryer during the cleaning process.
However, the cushion cover is machine washable at a gentle cycle speed and can be tumble dried.
3. Coated or Closed Cell Foam Cushions
Closed-cell foam cushions mostly have removable components, and it is essential to remove them before proceeding.
You want to ensure everything goes back into place later, so be mindful of the cushion set-up or, better yet, take a picture before disassembly.
Use water and a damp cloth to gently wipe the foam wheelchair cushion after removing the cover.
Pat the cushion with a dry cloth to let off excess moisture and air dry.
4. Open Cell Foam Cushions
These cushion materials should not come into contact with liquids because they are easily damaged.
For this reason, they are usually confined within water-tight covers to protect the foam from moisture.
A brush is best to wipe away dirt from this type of cushion. If the cushion comes into direct contact with any liquid, do the following.
- Avoid using the cushion to prevent wet skin discomfort.
- Sprinkle some cornstarch on the affected cushion surface.
- After some time, brush off the cornstarch, and inspect the cushion. If the damage is extensive, you might have to buy another cushion.
5. Flexible Matrix or Honeycomb Cushions
These cushions are easy to use and clean because they are machine washable and can be tumble dried.
The cushion features a thermoplastic material that allows for excellent pressure redistribution for wheelchair users on their mobility devices.
Here is a YouTube video from The Postureworks on how honeycomb cushions work:
5 Tips for How to Clean a Wheelchair Cushion
1. Frequent Checkups
According to the BTS, 25.5 million Americans with limited mobility depend on wheelchairs and other mobility aids. (1)
Being American, I want you to know that while keeping your cushion dry and clean is essential, always check for wear and tear during the cleaning process.
2. Have Extra Covers
An extra clean cushion cover will always save you the inconvenience of waiting until the cleaned one dries.
The extra cushion will be a backup and allow you to get on with your daily activities.
3. Clean Thoroughly
As you remove the cushion for cleaning, you can look at the wheelchair’s components, catching potential problems early and avoiding sudden inconveniences.
Get a soft brush and a clean cloth to clean the cushion. You might also want to clean the wheelchair at the same time to ensure all-over cleanliness.
Check out this DIY YouTube video from NCHPAD on how to clean a wheelchair
4. Avoid Machine Washing
While a laundry machine makes cleaning a quick process, note that the process can damage your cushions.
Moreover, the heat from commercial dryers might also be too much for the material.
Therefore, you want to use mild detergent, water, and soap to clean this wheelchair accessory.
Cushion manufacturers always include washing instructions in the packaging. Following them is essential.
5. Avoid Bleach Solutions
Cushion manufacturers will specify if you can use household bleach when cleaning the piece.
Ideally, use water and soap to avoid damaging the material or leaving bleach stains.
Can wheelchair cushions be washed?
You can wash the type of wheelchair cushion you have with ease. There is a set of manufacturer instructions on how to clean the cushion that you should follow.
How long does a foam cushion take to dry?
You can air-dry foam pillows after patting off the excess moisture. The drying process can take between 4 and 24 hours, depending on the weather.
How do you get the urine smell out of a wheelchair cushion?
Using vinegar or baking soda can get the urine smell out of a wheelchair’s cushion.
How do you clean a honeycomb wheelchair cushion?
You can machine wash and tumble dry honeycomb wheelchair cushions.
The question of how to clean a wheelchair cushion is one that many wheelchair users and their families will ask.
With people spending many hours in their chairs, a clean cushion prevents dust and sweat buildup.
It is essential to know your wheelchair cushion’s material and how to clean this properly. This is simply an idea, but rephrase the sentence to make it clear.
Let me know in the comments if you enjoyed this detailed brief on how to clean wheelchair cushions and my additional cleaning tips!
- 1. Brumbaugh S. Travel Patterns of American Adults with Disabilities | Bureau of Transportation Statistics [Internet]. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. 2018. Available from: https://www.bts.gov/travel-patterns-with-disabilities
- 2. MedlinePlus [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); Pressure sores; Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/pressuresores.html