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Help! Dirty Hands! Perpetually Dirty Wheels!

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    Help! Dirty Hands! Perpetually Dirty Wheels!

    I've had these wheels for a while. About 4-5 years. Maybe it's time for new ones? but they still look good, have good traction.

    The only difference I've noticed is that they remain perpetually dirty...

    If I touch the wheel (which is inevitable as my hand-rim is super close to the wheel, and I tend to hold both anyway) then my hand turns freaking BLACK! and IF I'm wearing gloves, my upperfingers will get black and eventually it'll seep down to my hand.

    I wear gloves

    but my hands are always dirty

    and my walls have endless black hand-stains, on my doors, kitchen, everywhere.

    And recently I was in an intimate encounter with a female friend of mine, and as she sat closer and closer, I felt something was going to happen, but then she seemed REALLY turned off when she saw my hands were entirely black as I had been wheeling before-hand... I don't think she wanted me to finger her anymore


    do you clean your wheels? is there a special type of wheel I should get? am I missing something? why isn't everyone complaining about this?

    especially when I'm at home and don't wear gloves...

    and I can't even wash them enough! I wash my hands all the time. Sometimes even the soap doesn't get the dirty off as it goes deep into my palm.

    I clean my wheels/pushrims once a day with old washcloths. Soak one with hot water, wring it out, then push forward and scrub the wheel/pushrim. Then use a dry one to dry, while scrubbing other one. I use a pumice stone every morning in the shower to scrape off and dirt build-up.


      I use Clorox Wipes (or any store brand bleach wipe meant for hard surfaces). I use them about once a day and it keeps things manageable. I also regularly wash my chair / wheels / tires with soap & water to get the grime off (once a week, every other week, once a month depending). I often travel through puddles and over other road surfaces and washing my chair in this way makes me feel a bit cleaner about things. It's also nice if I've crossed up with "something undesirable."

      If you don't have a backup chair to transfer into (I do), you can put a lawn chair next to the water hose and transfer into that for the duration of washing your chair. Take off everything that shouldn't get wet (i.e. cushion - don't get the cushion wet!!), specialized back etc...and then just mix up some dish soap and water in a 5 gallon bucket...get a truck brush (I use one with about a 3 foot pole), rinse, scrub, and rinse again. If you need the chair quickly or if it is bad weather, dry it with a towel (be sure to tilt the chair side to side to get all the water out of the tubes). I let mine completely dry via air drying (because I have a second chair). When the chair is completely dry, I check for loose parts or lube parts up using silicone spray (keep pets / animals away from this process), and wipe off major excess with a paper towel or rag cloth towel.

      Don't forget to scrub the wheels / tires well: I lay mine down on the ground, handrims up, scrub with the truck brush. Then I grab them by the handrim and flip them, working on the spokes from the non-handrim side. Then using the handrim as a grab point, I scrub the truck brush around all areas of the tires and down onto the rim (where Spinergies would say Spinergy, and your thumbs would be most likely to touch. Then set them down for a few minutes; when ready to rinse, grab the hose, grab the handrim, rinse...flip it, grab the spokes, rinse...and then grab the handrim and spin the tires around until all the suds are off the tires. Set down to air dry; it will dry very quickly.

      To wash my cushions if needed (sometimes things happen...) - I take the cover off, and then regular foam generally survives okay in my washer (front loader - use a lower speed cycle) - and something specialized like a gel cushion or foam base I can do lightly with the soap / water mix outside, then rinse very well and leave to air dry.

      I tend to do cushions and less dirty things first with the soap and water mixture if I can; I'll let them soak and then either put them in my washer or rinse them super well and hang to dry. Then I work on my chair, working on the tires last. Then if I have enough water and it is not too filthy I will do something like wash the car with the leftover and that will use it up without wasting as much.

      Of course, this is best done outside with an outside hose...and not in the middle of winter, when outside spigots are shut off to keep from freezing. If either of those are true, you may have to settle for Clorox wipes until absolutely necessary. Depending on your bathroom setup, you might be able to take care of a desperately dirty chair there...again, just make sure it is fully dry and the water is out of the tubes.

      Good luck!


        I don't know what kind of handrims you have, but if you have painted ones, for the extra grip/traction, black hands seem to be an eventual consequence. The black paint eventually breaks down after years of use. Oils in the skin make this happen even faster. That's one reason why I personally never buy painted rims, only anodized. It doesn't matter how the paint is applied. Even powder coated paint is still paint. I'm sure even coated (plastic, rubberized, whatever) handrim material breaks down and rubs off in time.

        I have also had a problem with cheaply anodized black handrims. The anodizing rubbed off, staining everything black (hands, gloves, doorways). Eventually things got better; though, only after almost all the black was gone. The handrims look terrible now. I no longer use them. I have not had problems like yours with quality anodized rims, like silver Spinergys.


          You wear gloves. I don't need them for my wheelchair, but I do used leather gloves sometimes while working on things or outside. I have had cheap leather gloves stain my hands black. It's the dye. Again, oils in the skin along with sweat probably cause this.

          Also, I always use the long tab handrim mount to keep my fingers off my tires as much as possible.


            Sounds like you wear fingerless glove. Get some the cover your whole hand. If your hand rims are bare metal, as in the anodizing/paint is gone, it probably corrosion on the hand rims. You can have them re-anodized or get new. Or find a "Dirty girl".


              My old handrims were black anodized and extremely scratched up and got my hands black - I think either the aluminium or the anodizing was having a reaction with my skin. Got new ones and it solved the problem (a regular set of aluminium and Surge LTs).


                my handrims are stainless steel, non colored...

                dirty is coming from the wheel itself especially since I use it to propel


                  Originally posted by diaspora View Post
                  my handrims are stainless steel, non colored...

                  dirty is coming from the wheel itself especially since I use it to propel
                  Is your floor clean? Maybe you need indoor and outdoor wheelchairs.
                  I have had periodic paralysis all my life. I lost my ability to walk in 2011 beginning with a spinal block, which was used for a hip fracture caused by periodic paralysis.


                    What tyres do you have? Are they designed for wheelchair use?


                      I have the same issue as Diaspora, but my hand rims are aluminum from TiLite. I have never had this issue before and I have had three other wheelchairs. Here is info I got off the internet that may be of some help.
                      Aluminum Anodized Handrims

                      Aluminum handrims are by far the most common handrims and are usually standard equipment on many wheelchair models. Because aluminum is a dirty material and will continually shed a fine black dust the manufacturers will have their aluminum handrims anodized to seal them and prevent the oxidization that causes the black dust.

                      Stronger metals need less thickness. That is why, in some applications, aluminum is capable of being lighter than steel. It is simply thinner. Titanium is not only light weight, but is also capable of being formed still thinner. Also, there are many different alloys of these metals and weight, strength, and resistance to oxidation vary by alloy.

                      The reason that Aluminum is dirty is that it forms a protective oxidized coat when it is exposed to air. The coat forms faster when exposed to water. The same thing happens to mild steel. You see this coat as a dullness in the aluminum. It shows up as very dark grey on your hands or gloves.

                      Anodizing aluminum is done by dipping it in a tank with an electrolyte and using an electrical current to pull some of the reagent into the surface of the aluminum. The color produced depends on the specific voltage used. This is commonly done to produce a colored surface but it also protects from oxidation. Titanium is also capable of being anodized, but fewer places do it. If you are working with a shop that specializes in anodizing, you can specify how deep you want the anodizing to go.

                      Anodizing and powder coating are both susceptible to scratches. Deep anodizing, which is not done by any chair manufacturer that I know of, would show fewer scratches but would still show the deep ones. Class III (Standard Commercial) anodizing is .1 mil deep, Class II is .4, and Class I is .7. Custom depths of greater thickness can be done.

                      You can continue to regularly polish aluminum to prevent the build up of oxidation and even polish out scratches, bit this is prohibitively laborious for something the size of a chair. You can also use a car wax to prevent oxidation after you have polished, this will save you having to re-polish the whole chair, you can just polish and re-wax the scratches. It's still a LOT of work.

                      If you don't like the scratches and don't want to spend much effort keeping them under control, your best bet is to apply an exterior protector over your scratch areas. Some people use adhesive chain stays, bicycle handlebar tape, or sew on leather.

                      Anodizing is a type of electrolytic process used for the passivation of metal components, usually performed on aluminum parts. Passivation of the component is achieved by increasing the thickness of the natural oxide layer on the surface of the metal component, thus protecting the component from corrosion. The anodizing process involves using the object or component to be anodized as the anode of an electrical circuit and immersing it in an electrolyte bath. When electricity is passed through the circuit, an oxide layer is formed on the anode. Apart from corrosion prevention, anodizing is also used as a cosmetic surface enhancement process, especially with the added use of dyes.


                        I usually use Glass Plus and paper towel. Don't have specific routine. But when dirty, simply take 1 paper towel and spray some of the Glass Plue and and wipe entire rim. Paper towel easy to wrap around entire rim. Dries very quick.