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Cleaning Your Wheelchair Cushion

The seating on your wheelchair is one of the most important parts of your mobility setup. If you clean your cushion regularly you will extend its life and make it easier to maintain. There are many different types of wheelchair cushions available, and they each have benefits and downfalls when it comes to cleaning.

One thing all cushions have in common is a washable cushion cover. This may be an incontinent cover, or it may be made of a breathable material like cotton. Most of these covers have a zipper, Velcro, or shower-cap type of closure. These are easily washed in a washing machine and dried in a dryer on low heat (please check your cushion's washing instructions for details on specific temperatures).

General Tips for Wheelchair Cushion Cleaning

Do Don't
  • Check your cover for tears and excessive wear each time you clean it.
  • Examine your cushion for any wear or dirt. Wipe down with a damp cloth (no soap) to remove stains, dirt or particles.
  • Buy a 2nd cushion cover so you can switch them out when one is being washed.
  • Clean underneath your cushion - dust or crumbs can easily collect there.
  • Dry clean, autoclave or steam your cushion cover.
  • Wash your cushion with bleach.
  • Put a towel on top of your cushion to help to keep it clean; this will very much reduce the effectiveness of your wheelchair cushion.
  • Submerge your foam cushion in water to clean it.

Foam Cushions

Foam cushions can be easily cleaned by wiping gently with a damp cloth (no soap) once you're removed the cover. Never submerge your foam cushion in water to clean it, and never use bleach or anything besides water to clean. Once you've wiped it clean, use a dry cloth to wipe the excess moisture off, then let it air dry until it's completely dry. If you have a foam cushion with detachable positioning components make sure to note their position before removing them for cleaning. Take a photo just to be sure you can replace all the components in their proper positions.

Air Cell Cushions (such as ROHO)

Your air cell cushion is most likely made of air-filled neoprene rubber cells. The cover can be washed in the washing machine in cold water with mild detergent on the gentle cycle, then tumble dried on the lowest temperature. Your cushion can be cleaned in a large sink or bathtub using a diluted mild detergent and a soft-bristled brush. Make sure to close the air valve before you put the cushion in water. Once clean, use fresh water to rinse the cushion, then let it air dry. Some air cushions can be disinfected using a mild bleach and water solution, but please check the instructions that came with your cushion before doing this. Never put your air cell cushion in the washer or dryer. View a video on how to clean your ROHO cushion.

Fluid-filled and Gel Cushions

Wash the cover in the washing machine on the gentle cycle, then tumble dry using low heat. Clean the cushion (fluid and gel parts only) with mild soap and water, wipe excess moisture off with a clean towel, then let air dry.

Air Displacement Cushions (such as Vicair)

This type of cushion contains hundreds of air-filled "smart cells" (small triangles) that are extremely durable, supportive, and provide excellent pressure redistribution. Treat light stains by wiping the removable cover with a damp cloth and mild detergent. You can also machine wash the cover.

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