What To Do With Used Wheelchairs?

Wheelchairs play a critical role in enhancing mobility for those with physical challenges. But what happens when they’re no longer needed? Know what are the opportunities and responsible ways to manage used wheelchairs.

What To Do With Used Wheelchairs

Repurposing for Personal Use

A wheelchair may have served its primary purpose, but with a touch of creativity, there are numerous ways to repurpose them:

  • Mobile Gardening Chair: Convert the wheelchair into a rolling gardening chair. Attach tools to the sides and a comfortable cushion for extended hours in the garden.
  • Art Projects: Create a unique art or sculpture using the parts. This could be a talking point in your home or garden.

Donations and Community Aid

  • Local Charities: Many local charities willingly accept used wheelchairs. These chairs get refurbished and provided to those in need. Some of the most well-known charities that accept wheelchair donations include:
    • American Mobility Outreach
    • Wheels for the World
    • Muscular Dystrophy Association
    • Kids Equipment Network
    • Easter Seals
    • Goodwill
    • Salvation Army
  • Hospitals and Nursing Homes: Often, these institutions have patients who can’t afford personal wheelchairs. Donating here ensures the chair serves a noble purpose.

Selling Your Used Wheelchair

If the wheelchair is in relatively good condition, consider selling it:

  • Online Marketplaces: Platforms like eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace are excellent for listing used wheelchairs.
  • Specialty Shops: Some shops specialize in buying and selling medical equipment. Research in your locality to find one.

Repairs and Upcycling

  • Refurbishment: Even if a wheelchair seems past its prime, refurbishing can breathe new life into it. Consider changing the upholstery, repainting, or replacing worn-out parts.
  • Parts Salvaging: Even if the entire wheelchair is not operational, some parts might be. These can be sold or reused in other equipment.

Environmental Disposal

If the wheelchair is beyond repair or reuse, ensure it’s disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner.

  • Recycling Centers: These centers often accept metal parts from wheelchairs.
  • Eco-friendly Junkyards: Some junkyards practice green disposal methods. Research and find one in your region.

Raising Awareness

Informing people about the potential of used wheelchairs can lead to more sustainable practices:

  • Educational Workshops: Host or attend workshops that teach the community about repurposing and recycling wheelchairs.
  • Social Media Campaigns: Leverage the power of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to promote responsible disposal and reuse.

Keep It For a Backup

  • If you have a spare wheelchair, you can keep it for a backup. This is a good idea if you have a child who uses a wheelchair or if you are a caregiver for someone who uses a wheelchair. This way, you will have a wheelchair available if your primary wheelchair breaks down or is lost.

Factors to Consider When Handling a Pre-owned Wheelchair

1. Condition of the Wheelchair:

Before anything else, evaluate its current state. It can be donated, sold, or passed down if it’s in good working order. If it requires minor repairs, decide if you wish to refurbish it before handing it off. Wheelchairs in poor condition might be best suited for parts salvaging or recycling.

2. Hygiene and Cleanliness:

Ensure the wheelchair is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, especially if you’re considering donating or selling it. This ensures the next user receives it in a sanitary condition.

3. Emotional Attachment:

For some, a wheelchair may carry sentimental value. Consider if you’re ready to part with it, or if you’d rather repurpose it in a way that keeps it close.

4. Demand and Need:

In many parts of the world, there’s a significant demand for mobility aids. Research local charities, hospitals, or non-profit organizations that can help get the wheelchair to someone in need.

5. Financial Considerations:

If you want to sell the wheelchair, research its current market value. This will give you an idea of a reasonable selling price.

6. Space and Storage:

Consider your storage options if you’re unsure about what to do immediately. Wheelchairs can take up significant space, so you’ll need a proper storage solution to prevent it from obstructing or deteriorating quality.

7. Environmental Concerns:

If the wheelchair is beyond repair or use, look into eco-friendly disposal methods. Many parts of a wheelchair, especially the metal components, can be recycled.

8. Legal and Ethical Aspects:

When donating or selling, ensure you’re transparent about any defects or issues with the wheelchair. It’s essential to act in good faith and not knowingly pass on a faulty wheelchair without informing the next user.

9. Transport and Logistics:

Consider transportation logistics if you’re donating, especially to a distant place or another country. Some organizations might pick up donations, while others require you to drop them off or ship them.

10. Raising Awareness:

If you’ve had a positive experience donating or repurposing your wheelchair, share your story. It could inspire others to do the same and create a more sustainable and caring community.


How can I determine the lifespan of a used wheelchair?

Typically, the lifespan of a wheelchair depends on its make, model, and how well it’s been maintained. Regular check-ups and timely replacements of worn-out parts can extend its life. However, consulting the manufacturer’s guidelines or seeking a professional’s opinion can give a more accurate estimate.

Is it safe to buy a used wheelchair online?

Purchasing a used wheelchair online requires caution. Ensure you’re buying from a reputable website or seller, read reviews, and ask for detailed photos or videos of the wheelchair. If possible, arrange a physical inspection before completing the purchase.

Are there any tax benefits or deductions for donating a used wheelchair?

In many countries, donating medical equipment like wheelchairs to registered charities can qualify you for tax deductions. However, the specifics vary, so it’s essential to consult local tax guidelines or a tax professional.

Can used electric wheelchairs be upgraded with newer technology?

Yes, many electric wheelchairs can be upgraded. Depending on the model, you can update components, software or add additional features. It’s advisable to consult with the wheelchair’s manufacturer or a specialist to understand the upgrade possibilities.

How should I price my used wheelchair if I decide to sell it?

Pricing a used wheelchair involves considering its age, condition, brand, and any additional features. Comparing similar models on online marketplaces can give you a ballpark figure. You can also consult with medical supply stores or specialists for a valuation. Remember to be transparent about any wear and tear issues to potential buyers.

Final Thought

The journey of a wheelchair doesn’t end when its primary user no longer needs it. From repurposing and donating to selling or recycling, numerous responsible ways exist to ensure the chair continues to serve a purpose.

Taking action in any of these directions not only aids in sustainability but also potentially transforms another person’s life.

Jose Alpuerto

Written by

Jose Alpuerto

With a heart that beats for the young and young-at-heart alike, Jose dives headfirst into the world of tech wizardry and safety gadgets, all with the mission of turning aging at home into an adventure. Armed with a keyboard and an unquenchable enthusiasm, he spins tales of gadgets that bring laughter and ease to the lives of the elderly, proving that growing older doesn’t mean you can’t keep the spirit of play alive.