Wheelchair cup holders are accessories that primarily hold drinks. They are attached to the bars of the wheelchair and can be of different sizes and shapes. Usually located on the front side of the wheelchair, it can serve as an extra pocket.
People tend to be picky about choosing one and they should be. Why? Because their wheelchair is important. It’s their safe space and, naturally, they want to customize it as much as possible—it’s theirs, after all, it should look like it too. They need to be able to carry important items, keeping them within reach, and want the cup holder to be appealing to them. It’s normal to feel that way.
People with cars do, people with bikes and boats do too, why would we expect people in wheelchairs to be different? It works under the same principle, if somebody has a space they feel has a part to play in the telling of their story, they imprint a bit of personality in it. They pour care and pride in it, and so they decide if and how it’s going to be customized.
The Best Wheelchair Cup Holders
There are some aspects we think should be taken into consideration. We list their implications, going into as much detail as we can, and the decision is left for the wheelchair user. They know their needs best and we take that into account. It’s the reason our list is so diverse. We are here to help and, hopefully, we’ll mention something that informs and interests.
What are the characteristics of wheelchair cup holders?
This can be interpreted in two different ways: the size of the container that fits the holder, and the size of the cup holder. For the first, it’s usually a measurement of the inside diameter of the cup holder. They are usually long enough, so as long as your drink’s diameter (or width with other items) is suitable, it can be placed there. You have to be careful though when pairing smaller holders or those with a minimalist design with larger objects. The latter can easily pop out.
The second part, the size of the cup holder, may be important in another way. If the cup holder is placed awkwardly or is very heavy, it can change your balance on the wheelchair. Maybe it’s a small change (that you can’t even feel), maybe it’s a bigger one (it depends on the type of cup holder and what you use if for), but it’s an aspect that we thought it was worth mentioning.
Similar to that line of thought, you should take into consideration how the width and length will change. Maybe it’ll more difficult to navigate through doorways, maybe you’ll be too far away from the sink, or maybe you won’t be able to fit under your desk. You should take into consideration your environment and how you interact with it when purchasing or making your cup holder.
There are three major materials when it comes to cup holders: plastic, cloth, and metal. They can be reinforced or not. The one that can carry the most weight is metal, the most popular one is plastic, and cloth is the most adaptable. That doesn’t mean that they are the only materials for cup holders, we could mention wood and silicone as possibilities. Most are adapted to bring other features to the design. Still, wheelchair cup holders are chiefly made out of the main three.
A wheelchair cup holder’s ability to fold is very important. It’s a feature that doesn’t matter when the cup holder is in use, but it’s one that you might prefer to have. We think it’s worth knowing that they exist in case you run into similar issues to the ones mentioned at ‘Size’.
It’s natural to want to find a cup holder that’s appealing visually. You’re going to install it on your chair and see it every day; you should like to look at it. The various designs, materials, and colors do their best to cover every taste. Beyond functionality, aesthetics has its place in our lives too.
Here are our five recommendations; we hope you’ll find something that’s to your liking.
1. Sheer Living Wheelchair Cup Holder
Why is this item on our list?
Adjustable holder. The Sheer Living Cup Holder is claw-like in design, with a bottom platform that adjusts width, at a preferred angle and varying bar diameter. It may take a while to get used to, especially how they are modified and what your preferences are with each. Once that’s done, however, everything you may need changing is a feature of this cup holder.
Pros and cons
Let’s take it one by one. The bar diameter it gets installed on can be between 0.25” and 1.5”. And while a 1.5” isn’t a feat of mobility for wheelchair cup holders, 0.25” is. It’s positively tiny. Additionally, the cup holder is made out of lightweight ABS plastic. It’s durable, yes, but also light enough so it could be supported on a bar that thin. The clamp is sturdy and can be controlled by a knob.
The angle of the cup holder can also be adjusted. It’s done by turning a wheel next to the cup of the holder, on the bar side. Angle adjustments are made to better grip the object contained in the cup holder by people of different body characteristics and with different disabilities. We tend not to give it much thought until we need it at a more manageable slope or have it and discover how helpful it can be.
Of the three, we have the bottom platform left. This one is the easiest: you simply pull to extend. It goes from a diameter of 2.25” to 2.8”. If you put in a container that’s not of 2.8” you can push the platform back to the drink’s width. That way, you’re assured it stays in place.
The claw-like design, however, is a weakness. Not because it doesn’t secure the drinks, but because of the open sides—it can’t carry anything else safely. For example, you can only prop your phone there. Because it doesn’t have a circle around the top, it can easily slide off. It doesn’t even need a bump on the road; the vibrations from the wheelchair moving are enough.
The Sheer Living Cup Holder is a highly adjustable, sturdy, wheelchair cup holder.
2. Kemimoto Metal Clamp Cup Holder
Why is this item on our list?
Metal clamp. The closest we could come to finding a wheelchair metal cup holder, this Kemimoto model has a metal clamp. We wanted to have at least one example of the material because it doesn’t bend, crack, or break under heavier weights. The metal makes it studier, more likely to last a long time, and it attaches securely.
Pros and cons
The Kemimoto is compatible with bars that have a diameter between 0.6” and 0.75”. There is an anti-slip pad included and its purpose is to increase friction and make the cup holder attach more securely when placed between the clamp and the bar. It also protects the bar from the small “teeth” of the clamp that are designed to resembling a crocodile’s bite.
Installing it is a simple matter: the clamp doesn’t have screws and you don’t need to drill anything. It has a knob at the top that can be twisted open or shut. Aside from the clamp, the cup holder has a hook, which in the top part of the holder, and an angled bottom. The hook is compatible with containers that have a maximum width of 2.8”. In terms of drinks, that means around 20oz.
As far as disadvantages go, we need to talk about the design. Though it can be useful for some, depending on what you want to attach it to, the support platform is, in our opinion, awkwardly swooped. It leaves drinks balancing on its raised end. The cup holder does fit many containers but it leaves some in precarious positions. We can easily see something spilling or the whole drink falling.
The Kemimoto Metal Clamp is a sturdy cup holder.
3. Kemimoto Washable Cup Holder
Why is this item on our list?
Cloth cup holder. We mentioned at characteristics that cup holders can be made out of fabric. This is an example and one of the best cup holders in our opinion. It’s got all the adaptability inherent in a cloth cup holder and some special features.
Pros and cons
Kemimoto cup holder has both a drain and it’s washable. That makes it extremely easy to clean. If it’s raining while you’re outside, the cup holder won’t retain water. And if you spill something, it’s simple to take out and wash. Don’t worry about losing its shape; it’s designed to maintain it. Added to that, the cup holder has 0.15” of foam on the inside for a bit of isolation. That means that your drinks will keep their temperature longer.
The cup holder can be installed on 1.5” to 2” diameter bars. It attaches with two adjustable Velcro straps and forms a 25oz compartment. You can use it for whatever you need—money, keys, glass, or a snack. There’s even the option of cutting the longer strap to make it fit larger drinks. And it has mesh pockets on the outside for your phone, ID, or other small items you may need.
This Kemimoto model locks bottles and flasks in place with the help of a cord. It’s designed to prevent the containers from sliding out of odd angles, but it works just as well if you just want the compartment shut. And when you’re not using it, just fold it in. That way, it won’t be in your way.
There aren’t many disadvantages to the Kemimoto Washable Cup Holder. It’s made of cloth and attached with Velcro straps, which means it’s not the most secure and can’t handle bigger weights. But it’s sturdier than it may seem. Of course, a metal cup holder would be able to carry larger weights, but you can’t fold it or close it. Again, it depends on what you’re looking for.
Kemimoto Washable Cup Holder is a fantastic cloth cup holder.
4. ROBOCUP 12 Colors
Why is this item on our list?
Two in one. Robocup is two vertical clamps that branch into two high cup holders. More accessories could be added, to make it support four cup holders—with two that swivel—and a holster. It makes the Robocup great for customization with various possible combinations to best fit your needs.
Pros and cons
Robocup offers an array of options even without buying the extra accessories. We’ll start with the most obvious: it has two cups. That makes it unique enough, there aren’t that many with more than one holder in the same support. It does come with some disadvantages, we’ll get more into that later, but if you need or want two, this may be the product for you.
In keeping with the customization theme, there is a wide range of colors your Robocup can have. More specifically it comes in eleven different colors—black, white, navy, light blue, gray, red, orange, purple, pink, camo, and olive. And if you happen to like two of them, there are four possible combinations: red and black, navy and gray, orange and navy, and gray and black.
Robocup is made out of a poly resin that has UV-inhibitors to cope better with the elements. It weighs less than 1lb. The clamps have a rubber grip and can be attached to bars of maximum 2” diameter.
They are reinforced from a previous version to make the clamps more durable and have stainless steel springs and hardware. It’s a design meant for many purposes, including wheelchairs and fishing, so it’s ideal if you’re interested in both. Even if you’re not, the fishing element made modifications that may be useful to you.
The cups are more slender and they slim down, from 3.25”, to 3”, to finally 2”. They have end caps that can be easily removed—in case something spills or you want to put in something longer (flowers or fishing rods, for example). But they also have the threading improved so they are able to stay securely shut. You can put drinks, but also pens, magazines, and keys.
The locking mechanism, however, we’ll put in the weaknesses department. Why? You have to clasp the two cup holders together to open the clamps. Sounds like something you can do? If you can, never mind then, this isn’t a disadvantage for you. The cup holder doesn’t have screws so you don’t need dexterity, you only need strength, and the clamps can be secured in place with a thin cable-tie.
Like we started telling you earlier at our first point in its favor, there are more disadvantages that we should mention. The cup holder’s not very practical if you need to move around, as it could interfere with your ability to pass through doorways, for example. On the other hand, if you plan on going fishing we can’t think of any that’s more appropriate so it depends on your needs. And, you’re advised not to put hot drinks in it, so careful about that too.
Robocup is a great, customizable two-in-one cup holder.
5. Astrata Wheelchair Side Bag with Large Cup Holder
Why is this item on our list?
Bundle. It comes as a set: a wheelchair cup holder and a side bag. If this isn’t what you’re looking for, you still have the other four on the list, but we thought we should mention this possibility for those who might be interested. It’s a good alternative to a wheelchair backpack, being somewhere in the middle: not having as much space as one, but whatever you do store in it being within reach.
Pros and cons
We’ll start with the cup holder since it’s the reason the product features on our list. It’s 4” in height, the bottom plate being 4”, and it can be installed on bars with a diameter of 0.75”, 0.88”, or 1”. The cup holder can carry containers with a diameter of between 2.25” and 3.25”, which means drinks between 12oz and 22oz.
Note that the diameter is the most important measurement here, if you happen to have a squat bottle of 22oz that’s wider than 3.25” it won’t fit. Also, the cup holder is foldable, something that, as we mentioned above, becomes valuable whenever you are restricted in terms of width.
The side bag comes in floral and tartan patterns, and solid black. It’s 7” high and 12” wide and has six compartments. Mesh ones at the back, the main one that has a zipper, and three smaller, open ones in the front. It has two Velcro straps, with the circumference between 6” and 12”, and six attachment points to stay in place.
You know best what you need, but there’s enough room to put in within your reach anything from your keys, money, and phone, to medicine, a power bar, or your entire wallet. It’s pretty large; it does eat at your space when it’s on the inside and adds at your width when it’s on the outside.
Being a set, the disadvantages are cumulated. What we mean by that is that there are some for the bag and some for the cup holder. The weakness of the bag is that it’s large. If you have a smaller wheelchair, you can put it on the outside of the arm. Likewise, if you’ve got big wheels, it’s got to hang on the inside.
And the disadvantage that the cup holder presents is that it’s pretty flimsy. It can’t hold heavier objects like metal does, for example, but, on the other hand, we weren’t able to find such a cup holder (just the clamp, it’s on our list at number 2) made for wheelchairs, and the ones we did find need customization before you can attach them to a wheelchair.
Also, in terms of securing the cup holder to your wheelchair, it does so safely. The problem is that three screws are part of the mechanism, two for the support and one for the holder.
They’re included, that’s not the issue, but that can be beyond the ability of those who need the cup holder. It’s an easy enough attachment for those able-bodied, but it may take a bit to get your head around it if you aren’t handy. What’s more, the screws aren’t long enough for padded arms.
Astrata Wheelchair Side Bag with Large Cup Holder is a good choice for those who want more storage options.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who came up with the wheelchair cup holders?
Car manufacturers did, more specifically United States car manufacturers. In the 1980s, two models had them as features: the Plymouth Voyager and the Dodge Caravan.
They were the first popular mini-vans, but few people remember that they had little grooves in the plastic of the dashboard. Since then, the concept has spread to a whole range of differently-shaped cup holders, becoming more and more popular because the idea behind them is appealing: personalization through accessibility.
How do I clean a wheelchair cup holder?
That depends on the cup holder. If it’s a cloth one, you can probably just wash it. Read the instructions first, just to be sure. Others have draining wholes on the bottom. Those can empty the liquid that spilled or the water from the rain. Similar to them are those made of metal mesh or the ones that have a minimalist design (like a claw or simply circles).
Now, with the last ones and those who don’t have any type of drainage, there’s more that needs to be done before they’re clean. Get a dry rag and soak up the liquid. Go drain the liquid, give the rag a quick wash, and come back with it dipped in something that will get the stains or stickiness out without damaging the material.
Usually, a degreaser works well, but, again, it’s best to do some research on the material the holder’s made out of. Anyway, stuff the rag in the cup, make sure it reaches everywhere, and give it a few twists. And that’s it, you did it: no more stickiness.
How much do wheelchair cup holders cost?
About $20, give or take $10. They’re not expensive as much as they are difficult to pinpoint why a certain model is appropriate for you. It’s much more trial and error than other products because it either fits you, your favorite drinks and knick-knacks, or it doesn’t. We can tell you some pros and cons but you’re the best person to make the decision.
Can I DIY a wheelchair cup holder?
Many people do. It’s accessorizing an important part of your life and for a lot of people buying one isn’t good enough. That being said, you need to be handy to attempt it. You probably don’t want to scratch it or damage the integrity of your wheelchair, especially when you don’t know what you’re doing. If that’s the case, we recommend starting with a purchase and then finding out what works and what doesn’t. Then try to find out how do you go about bringing the changes you want and see if that’s a project you can attempt. We wish you the best of luck!
How can I improve my balance is a wheelchair?
Balance, on and off a wheelchair, is vital. It’s especially important on, though. The last thing you want if to fall off a wheelchair. You’re aware of it, we acknowledge it, and the world can imagine it.
An exercise for maintaining your balance is trying to stay upright while lifting a light object (like a decorative pillow or a paper roll) from different sides at an arm’s width away, or as far as possible, for as long as you can. We recommend, however, as always, discussing it with your doctor or physical therapist before attempting it. Different people have different needs and finding out what sort of exercise routine is good for you is crucial.