*Cleanzine-logo-10a.jpgCleanzine: your weekly cleaning and hygiene industry newsletter 16th May 2024 Issue no. 1114

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Shared wheelchairs – a neglected contamination risk?

* Wheelchair-Cleaning.jpgDid you know that over 65 million people worldwide use wheelchairs every day? And that in addition, another one billion people use wheelchairs temporarily, for instance, due to illness or injury? Or that unfortunately, many wheelchair users develop illnesses and infections?

According to a study published by the US National Library of Medicine in April 2023, 85% of wheelchair users experience skin problems and over 50% develop fungal infections from using a wheelchair. These fungal infections can occur on various parts of the body, including the skin, nails, mouth, throat, lungs, and urinary tract.

The elderly and hospital patients, those most likely to use wheelchairs, are at the greatest risk of developing fungal infections.

This is why cleaning professionals in medical centres and airports, where wheelchair use is common, must be aware of how to keep wheelchairs clean and healthy, according to Hannah Jonasse, from ProNatural Brands, marketer of citric-acid-based cleaning solutions to maintain a healthy and hygienic environment.

So how do we clean wheelchairs to keep users healthy?

Among Hannah's recommendations are the following:

• Clean wheelchairs daily or after each use if multiple people use them.
• Sanitisers are usually sufficient to reduce the number of pathogens on a wheelchair to safe levels.
• If multiple people use the same wheelchair, disinfection is necessary. A disinfectant eliminates all pathogens as listed on the product's label.
• Avoid using alcohol-based sanitisers or disinfectants as they can cause skin irritations and rashes, which is what we want to prevent.
• Also, synthetic detergents, solvents and bleach should be avoided; they can also irritate the skin and damage the wheelchair.
• Citric-acid-based sanitisers and disinfectants have proven effective in cleaning wheelchairs and are less likely to cause skin irritations. Moreover, at least one citric-acid disinfectant is EPA-certified.
• Focus on cleaning the armrests, handles and frequently touched components, not forgetting surfaces that caregivers touch.
• Some wheelchairs have joysticks. These must also be cleaned. Apply the solution to the cleaning cloth first, then wipe. This is to protect the device's electronics.

"Finally, do not forget to clean the wheels," advises Hannah. "They collect pathogens from the floor [which can] be passed on to the wheelchair user's hands.”

Picture courtesy of charity https://www.ageukmobility.co.uk/



10th August 2023

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