How to Use a Tub Transfer Bench Safely on

How to Use a Tub Transfer Bench Safely

How to Use a Tub Transfer Bench...Safely

Bathroom safety is usually the biggest barrier to living independently at home.

Doorways are small, toilets are low, and tubs are hard to step over! A tub transfer bench is a game-changer, providing stability, independence, and enhanced safety without adding a ton of costs. This comprehensive guide aims to make sure you and anyone you know can understand how a tub transfer bench can help and how to use it safely. 

Here's what you'll learn:

  • The potential challenges of using a tub transfer bench
  • How tub transfer benches provide stability, independence, and safety for individuals with mobility challenges
  • Why proper selection of a tub transfer bench is crucial, considering factors like user weight, bathroom size, and adjustability.
  • How to address challenges like small spaces and water spillage.

 Ready? Let's go!

Step-by-Step Guide to Using a Tub Transfer Bench Safely

The very first thing you need to know is how to properly use the tub transfer bench. We'll walk you through it in writing below, but it'll make way more sense if you watch this short video here.

Positioning and Preparation: First make sure the bench is securely placed with one side (two legs of the bench) inside the tub and the other two outside, like a bridge over the tub wall. Make sure the height of the legs is adjusted so the bench is level.

Entering the Tub: The user should sit on the bench outside the tub, with both feet outside the tub first. Then scoot your bottom gradually into the tub, sliding across the bench. Once your legs hit the tub wall, lift each, one at a time over the tub wall and into the tub while you remain seated. Continue scooting across until you are in place, using grab bars if available for additional support.

During the Bath: Stay seated throughout the shower and stand only when needed, being sure to have a steady place to hold on if doing so.

Exiting the Tub: Reverse the entry process, sliding back to the outside part of the bench with your bottom first, then lift legs over and square your self up with feet evenly positioned before standing up. Push from the tub bench or hold a grab bar to get up and walk out of the bathroom.

Potential Dangers Of Using a Tub Transfer Bench

While tub transfer benches offer significant benefits, it's crucial to understand how to use them correctly to avoid potential dangers. These benches serve as a bridge, allowing individuals to slide from a wheelchair or standing position into the tub with minimal balance required. However, improper use or setup can lead to accidents.

 For example, it's imperative that the tub bench be level all the way across. You may never have noticed, but the floor of the bathtub is likely 2–3" higher than the floor of the bathroom. To make the tub transfer bench level, the legs inside the tub may need to be shorter than the legs outside the tub.

 While tub benches are pretty stable because of their width, it's still important to make sure the feet are securely touching the floor of the bathroom and the floor of the tub so there isn't a risk of tipping the chair over. The great thing about tub benches, though is that they are safe to sit on just one side of them as you get in and out and they'll remain balanced.

Selecting the Right Tub Transfer Bench

Choosing the right tub transfer bench involves a few considerations.

  • Weight capacity: Most chairs are rated for 250 to a 300 pound weight limit. If there needs to be a higher weight limit, you should look for a chair that says it's bariatric or goes up to 500 or 600 pounds.
  • Seat style: There are a variety of styles of seats on tub transfer benches the most basic being simply a bench, and the fanciest being a seat on a rail that allows for swiveling and sliding across. These are super helpful when the person's mobility is very limited.
  • Seat Height: The seat height on a standard tub transfer bench usually maxes out at 23 inches, but if you have a deep soaker tub or a clawfoot tub that's often not enough to clear the edge of the tub so you'll need an extra tall tub transfer bench to help and their max height is 26 inches.
  • Trunk Support: Most tub transfer benches don't come with a lap belt, but if you need that to help someone stay sitting upright, it's important to look for that feature or choose one that has armrests on both sides so that there's less chance that the person will lose their balance while sitting.

Common Challenges and Solutions

The biggest problem people tend to have with tub transfer benches is knowing how to keep the water in while using the shower. There's a great trick for this, and you can see it in action in this short video. If you cut or tuck your shower curtain in this certain way, it makes sure that you're able to keep the water inside and off the floor while in the shower.

Safety Precautions and Tips

Beyond the bench, implement general shower safety measures like adjusting water temperature settings and placing non-slip treads in and around the tub area.  If you have more questions or need more help, consult an occupational therapist for personalized advice.


Tub transfer benches significantly contribute to a safer, more accessible bathroom environment. Plus, they are so much easier and far more affordable than replacing the tub with a walk-in shower. So they are a great alternative that so few people know about. Following this guide guarantees that you know all the things you need to use this great tool safely and effectively.


Explore our selection of top-rated tub transfer benches to find the perfect match for your needs. For professional guidance on selecting and setting up your tub transfer bench, contact AskSAMIE today.

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Brandy Archie, OTD, OTR/L, CLIPP

Dr. Archie received her doctorate in occupational therapy from Creighton University. She is a certified Living in Place Professional with past certifications in low vision therapy, brain injury and driving rehabilitation.  Dr. Archie has over 15 years of experience in home health and elder focused practice settings which led her to start AskSAMIE, a curated marketplace to make aging in place possible for anyone, anywhere! Answer some questions about the problems the person is having and then a personalized cart of adaptive equipment and resources is provided.

She's a wife, mother of 3 and a die-hard Kansas City Chiefs fan! Connect with her on Linked In or by email anytime.

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