Saturday, January 26, 2013

Getting Clean and Going Green (without cleaning out your wallet): "Swiffering" and alternatives

I remember when Swiffer products first came out.  The first product my mom ever bought was the refillable  Swiffer Sweeper Mop that came with those baby wipe-like pad wet refill cloths.  Eventually, Swiffer progressed to a whole line of cleaning products, including the WetJet, Swiffer Dusters, and my college dorm room favorite, the Swiffer Carpet Flick (no longer sold, but you can still get the refills).

After the novelty of it all wore off, I remember thinking that it was ridiculous to keep spending massive amounts of money on all the refills and cleaning solutions.  It seemed like I needed at least 2 bottles of cleaning solution to get through cleaning all of my hard flooring surfaces, and that was just way too much money.  This was not including how costly the refill pads were.  I also was hooked on the Swiffer Duster because it was amazing at getting dust off my electronics and bookshelves. With two cats, I have a lot of nasty dust, but again, the refill duster cloths were a little pricey for my liking.

Luckily, other cleaning product companies began to catch on.  They made eco-friendly alternatives to Swiffer products.  In addition to switching to better alternatives, I began to figure out how to prolong the life of the Swiffer products.  So here are my "Swiffering" Alternatives for Cleaner, Greener Living.

Swiffer Dusters
If you must use the Swiffer Duster, or if you're like me and already own one and want to get the most out of it while you've still got refills:
  • Use the vacuum hose to clean dust of your disposable Swiffer Duster and reuse.  While this won't necessarily make your disposable duster cloth "as good as new", it will prolong the usable lifespan of your duster.  I literally insert the duster, stick and all, into an attachment-free vaccum hose to suck out all the dirt and dust.  Just make sure you hold onto the base of the duster cloth!  Otherwise, you'll be trying to figure how to get it out of your vacuum hose.
  • Wash the duster pad in a delicate bag in your washer.   Although I haven't tried this one myself, I have seen others tout this as a way to extend the life of your duster.  I could see how this would work for a couple of times and then render the refill completely useless.

Swiffer Mops/Cleaning Solution Bottles
  • Refill the Swiffer Cleaner Bottle.   There are a few ways to do this.  Most of them are dangerous and not recommended.  There is a way to pry the stupid cap off, and it is similar to how I get the caps off my usually non-reusable lysol hands-free dispenser refills.  More on that, later.  This one is tricky, though.  Another way is to soften up the plastic by dunking it in very hot water.  Once the cap is more pliable, you can pull it off.  There are locking tabs on the inside of the cap.  You can either clip them off so that the bottle can now be easily unscrewed, or if you're generally a bad parent and leave things like this laying around, you should probably leave the locking tabs on to prevent junior from drinking your cleaning solution.  Or invest in and use some cabinet locks.  Just saying.  
  • When you get your bottle open, refill it with your own cleaning solution.  My favorite solution for my vinyl floors is a diluted borax solution.  I use a couple of tablespoons per quart of HOT water.  I pour it into my wet mop bottle and go to town.  You can also scent this solution up if you want.  A few drops of tea tree oil or lavender is good because they have antibacterial/antiseptic properties.  I have also used a mixture of 50/50 vinegar and water mixed with about a tsp of dish soap per quart.  This is for those really grimy jobs. It will get month-old dried on marinara off of any surface. Don't judge me.  I'm busy and forget to clean under the stove sometimes.  
  • Wash the Swiffer WetJet Pads (see above).  Same concept as with the duster refills, but don't see how this would be useful for very long.
  • Use a microfiber towel or cleaning pad in place of the disposables. The Swiffer WetJet has velcro-like areas to which the cleaning pads stick.  Sometimes, these are sticky enough to hold a reusable mopping cloth.  If it isn't, you can go buy some heavy-duty adhesive Velcro online or from your local craft or superstore.  If you already have some binder clips laying around the house and your microfiber cloth is big enough, you can also pin the cloth up around the cleaning pad area.   

    Example of how to attach a microfiber cloth on your  Swiffer or other mop with binder clips.   
  • Make your own disposable wet pad refills.  This one doesn't necessarily save the environment, unless you count using an eco-friendly cleaner, but it will save some money.  If you still want the disposable feature of the clothes, place paper towels and enough of your favorite cleaning solution to wet all the towels in a reusable, seal-able container of your choice.  Make sure you use purified distilled water for diluting your cleaning solution, or you may grow some mold in there.  Also, do not use the "select-a-size" type of paper towels.  They aren't big enough to fit over the end of the cleaning pad area on your mop and lock in. An even better idea is to use a microfiber cloth dampened with cleaning solution. Here, you may run into the problem of being able to get it to stay on with the locking tabs on your mop.  If this is the case, use the binder clip tip shown above.  
  • Buy a fully reusable version of the Swiffer dust or wet mop.    I like the O'Cedar Pro Mist Dry or Wet Cleaning System I have owned it for a year or so now and LOVE it.  I also bought some extra  microfiber replacement pads so that I can keep cleaning instead of stopping to rinse out my pad after a particularly dirty spot on the floor.  You just toss the pads into the wash when you're done, and they come out super clean, especially with my homemade laundry detergent.  I recommend using hot water to help disinfect them and get them a little cleaner.  I also own the  Microfiber Flip Mop Damp/Dry All-Surface Mop.  It is great to pick up what the vacuum cleaner left behind on my kitchen and bathroom floors.  Sometimes I use it alone, or I spray a 50/50 mix of water and vinegar on the areas I am cleaning to use it as a wet mop.  When one side of the mop cloth is dirty, I can just flip it over and use the other side.  Just like the ProMist, I can toss the pad in the washer when I'm done.  
My O'Cedar Flip Mop and Pro Mist Dry or Wet Cleaning System.  Love them!

So far, those are my tips for maximizing or replacing your Swiffer products.  Nothing against Swiffer, but I'd rather "start saving, start greening" instead of "stop cleaning, start Swiffering" any day.  

No comments:

Post a Comment