At home, we park our wheelchair accessible van at the end of the driveway, where the ramp slides out a few feet into our front yard. Among the long list of house projects we had at the time was re-paving the driveway, but in the meantime, we gave Barton enough space in the front yard to maneuver in and out of the van.
Until the first time it poured.
We then learned that Barton pulled mud from the front yard all into the van with his motor wheelchair tracks. Unsurprisingly, we were sweeping dried pieces of mud that fell off from between the treads out of the van for days.
With a soppy year behind us (it rained more in Raleigh than in Seattle that year), we learned quite a bit about wiping mud and debris from inconspicuous places in the van.
Here are six tips we learned to keep our wheelchair van clean:
1. Find a good car wash.
Skip the drive-in car washes. In this case, it pays for a hand scrub. It’s also worth it to tip for extras such as interior and ramp cleaning.
If you’re not sure which car washes are near you, search for car washes near me on Google to find the top-rated washes in your area.
2. Rocks, sticks, and other debris can collect where a floor ramp pulls in and out.
We even found a writing pen! Keep this area free of debris. Use a scrub brush and liquid dish soap for the ramp, and don’t forget to clean the sides.
3. Smelly odors? No problem.
Keep one or two packets of baking soda in the car, which lifts odors. Replace the packets every few days if you’re trying to get rid of a strong odor.
4. Clean the hard-to-reach areas.
This includes the divots for the tie-down and seat belt holders, cup holders, and any other areas that collect dirt. You’ll want to clean these out more often instead of letting the dirt build-up.
5. Opt for steam cleaning carpeted floors.
While our vehicle is not carpeted, many wheelchair vans are. If you have stains and mud tracks on your carpeted floor, steam cleaning will be your best option for getting rid of as much dirt as possible.
6. Be mindful about where you get in and out of the ramp.
For example, during storms, we pull the van out into the street so Barton can get in from the end of the driveway. That way, dirt and mud tracks are less likely to make their way into the van. Be sure to use hazard lights to indicate where you are to other drivers for safety reasons.
Keeping your van clean is just as important as vehicle maintenance.
One warm Saturday, I pulled the ladder out to wash crêpe myrtle blossoms off the top of the MV-1. Shortly after, we got into a water fight with the water hose. It felt great knowing we were taking care of the van that gets us from here to there every day.
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