How To Bathe Someone In A Wheelchair

Regular wheelchairs are not waterproof with backrests and cushions easily soaking up water. Thus, it is almost impossible to wash someone that is sitting in a wheelchair.

To maintain personal hygiene, a shower chair and other adaptive equipment can be obtained to help a caregiver bathe someone more easily. 

The following bathing equipment is recommended for wheelchair users:

Tub Transfer Bench

A bench is helpful for wheelchair users that struggle with lifting their legs over the bathtub edge to step inside a tub/shower combo.

This long bench is positioned half in the bathtub and half outside of it. A person sits on the exterior portion and has a caregiver guide the feet over the tub wall to place them inside.


The caregiver can then help with washing as needed while the disabled individual sits.

To exit the bathtub, the reverse is done where the caregiver helps the legs over the tub wall. From here, assistance can be provided with the shower to wheelchair transfer.

Wheeled Shower Commode

A wheelchair user that cannot get to the bathroom on their own can sit on a wheeled shower commode and be pushed there by a caregiver. 


This device is designed to be moved into a roll in shower and has a hole in the seat to allow for easier washing of genitals. When a commode pail is placed underneath, it can also be used for toileting.

Shower Chair

Similar to a tub transfer bench, a shower chair can be positioned inside a bathtub. Given its more compact design, a shower chair can also be used in smaller shower stalls.


One advantage of this equipment is that it has a backrest that can be leaned on for support with sitting balance. A caregiver can then help bathe someone while they are sitting down and resting.

A disadvantage of shower chairs is that they cannot be used for help with stepping over the tub edge. Rather, it is a piece of equipment that is used for sitting during a shower by those that have poor endurance with standing for long periods of time.

Bath Lift

Soaking in a warm water bath can have many positive effects on the human body. For instance, it can help with relieving aches, pains and muscle fatigue.

For this reason, many wheelchair users prefer to be partially submerged in a bath, however it can be hard to get in or out of the bathtub with their leg weakness and disability.

The safest way to transfer to and from the tub floor is through the use of a bath lift. This equipment has a platform that can be sat on, which is controlled by remote to lower into the tub and rise out of it.


In the event of a power outage, many lifts have a backup battery to ensure they rise up from the tub floor to facilitate a safe exit.

Hand Held Shower Head With Flexible Hose

Washing all parts of an individual that is sitting in a shower chair or bath bench can be difficult with a standard overhead shower head.

By installing a hand held shower head with a flexible hose, water can be guided onto hard to reach areas. 


This equipment allows a caregiver to more effectively wash the back, genitals during peri-care, underneath skin folds, and get into all the nooks and crannies.

Long Handled Sponge

Many wheelchair users have trouble getting into the shower and require assistance from a caregiver. 

Once inside the shower, some may be able to wash themselves, with a few modifications, if they have sufficient upper body strength and range of motion.

For example, if someone is able to manipulate a long handled bath sponge, soap can be placed on it and used to scrub difficult to reach areas such as the lower legs, feet and back. 


This bathing aid eliminates the need to bend down to wash the lower body, or twist at the core to reach one’s back.

Thus, this adaptive bathing aid can allow a wheelchair user to be partly responsible for their own personal care and can help to maintain their dignity.