Make Swiffer WetJet and Sweeper cheaper and greener

Last week, I finally broke down and Swiffered. Now, I’m looking for ways to make the Swiffer process a bit greener.

At first, cheap trumps all

Mr. Cheap has been wishing for a Swiffer Wet Jet every time we slop water all around the kitchen with our mop. This month, Rite-Aid had a sale with rebates available on Swiffer. Combined with manufacturer’s coupons and a Swiffer rebate on refills (through 5/15/09), I purchased a WetJet and Sweeper at about 50 percent off.

Upstairs, I have a dust mop that is similar to a Swiffer Sweeper, but I went ahead and got a Swiffer Sweeper to have downstairs. The Sweeper wound up costing me about $3, and I’m hoping that storing it in the laundry room will motivate me to use the wet option to clean my laundry room floor more often.

Making them greener comes next

I’m not thrilled with the disposability of the refills and the chemical solutions, so for the future, I will aim to make these tools eco-friendlier. I have a box of refills to start with, because I wanted to actually use them while I get another system going.

What I did not realize is that apparently, the Swiffer designers have said that the Swiffer is an eco-friendly design as sold, because it eliminates all of the hot water used to mop, clean the mop, etc. Following the article in the previous link, the Inhabitat blog actually interviewed the designer about his claims. The comments contain several interesting points, from “I clean with old T-shirts” to “I think the Swiffer is green.”

In fact, it’s likely you *can* make either of these tools a lot greener. My first stops were these two options:

  • Make your own Swiffer pads. A friend of mine has crocheted a pad, and instructions for a crochetable wet/dry pad — or “Swiffer sock” are here. A commenter on the Inhabitat blog mentioned using rectangles of fleece. For either one, using synthetic material, washed and dried without fabric softener, will maximize static and increase dirt pickup.
  • The Swiffer Wet Jet comes with nifty little bottles that fit right on the machine — and have caps that don’t unscrew like normal lids, so that users assume you must discard the bottles and buy new ones. Fortunately, this quick Instructables tutorial shows how to remove the cap so you can refill with your own solution. (You can use plain water, vinegar and water, diluted Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap or whatever floats your boat.)

The verdict

I was sold when my daughter marched into the kitchen, grabbed some batteries (yes, the Wet Jet takes batteries — which I did not know when I purchased it — and it says you must use non-rechargeable batteries to avoid the risk of explosion!), and fired up the Wet Jet. While we were making dinner, she mopped the entire upstairs of our house and was miffed that we didn’t want her to do the kitchen while we were working in there.

Will the novelty wear off? Most likely yes. But meanwhile, things are looking good on our entry to Swiffer-land.

Do you Swiffer? Ease your guilty conscience here — and share your greenifying tips.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

kimchi April 20, 2009 at 10:15 am

When I rented an old Victorian with hardwood floors, I Swiffered all the time. All the Time. Unfortunately, I just used the disposable pads during that time bc I lived with 3 guys at the time and didn’t want to have to deal with washing pads that had potentially very gross stuff on it from my housemates!
That was when some of my knitting friends starting making the swiffer covers out of the kitchen cotton yarn you can get at Michaels or Joanns. They are very cute, reusable, and very resilient! But that takes a bit of time to knit up, so reading about your felt/old t-shirts ideas is perfect! Thanks so much for the great ideas! I don’t need to swiffer as much now as I used to, but it still comes in handy!

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L'an April 20, 2009 at 10:50 am

Count me as a Swiffer fan. I do actually use both the sweep-n-vac and the wetjet way way way more often than I ever wanted to use the broom or mop (definitely the mop!) and, bonus, my three-year-old still loves to help clean with the swiffer-vac (and it’s light enough that he can actually maneuver it.) My only complaint there is that the thing is kinda loud. I’ve used microfiber cleaning cloths on the vac with great success. Thanks for the link to prying the cap off those wetjet bottles; I’ve been meaning to actually attempt this for some time, but have been a little intimidated. :-)

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Amanda April 20, 2009 at 3:15 pm

I bought reusable ones from http://living.wallypop.net/sweeper.html and make my own cleaning solution as part of a compromise with my bf. :)

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Condo Blues April 20, 2009 at 5:01 pm

I had a Clorox Wet Jet because I didn’t want to deal with Swiffer’s battery issue. I found that I could open of the Wet Jet’s bottle and refill it with my own cleaning solution, which I did when the first batch ran out. I found reable flannel Swiffers type pads at Target for a $1 and I used those. You could easily make them.

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heather April 21, 2009 at 12:51 pm

I love my Swiffer, and for years tried a variety of other ways to use it w/o buying the pads. I started with layers of paper towels, that I misted with water. This does work in a pinch, but the towels start to tear and of course, make more trash. I discovered that I could use fabric dishcloths, you know the white striped woven kind, about the size of a wash cloth. If you put them on the same way as the regular pad you can actually use your fingernail to push the fabric down into the rubber grippy part, and it catches onto the woven fabric very nicely. I then mist the floor area I am moping, then use the Swiffer to “mop”. The best part is that they are washable. No need for the “wet” Swiffer at all.

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Mama harper April 26, 2009 at 8:46 pm

I find that an old washrag works really well. Anything that has a sort of nappy texture will stick into the little slots and stay. When I get done I just throw it in the wash.

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StradaTostada April 28, 2009 at 8:54 am

What about The Shark? It might be more expensive up front-but it comes with washable pads and only uses water (steam). I was just given one as a gift, so I don’t actually know how well it works…but am thinking if it works well on my hardwood it sounds like a great deal-financially and environmentally…any thoughts?

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Cheap Like Me April 28, 2009 at 12:45 pm

I did have a steam floor cleaner. It worked OK, but the hassle of plugging it in, heating (using electricity … don’t know if that is better or worse than the Swiffer’s batteries), and then having hot steam made it eventually not worthwhile for me. Also, I could not use mine on my real hardwood floors, so it was good for tile only. The spray from the Swiffer is not so hard on wood as hot steam was. Let us know how it works!

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Lisa May 8, 2009 at 9:03 pm

I have a Method O-Mop. It uses natural cleaners, no power, and a washable pad. I love it!!

I also made a reusable/washable “Swiffer duster.” You can find how online.

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Michele May 19, 2009 at 3:40 pm

The orange glo floor pads for hardwood floors are a little long but they work on the swifter wet jet! I bought 2 at a second hand store for 1$ each, they work great!

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sunnygirl August 17, 2012 at 1:49 pm

How can they say Swiffer is green? I’d rather use hot water to clean each time, than to go through all of those swiffers and solution containers. Do people believe this?

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nsgirl August 22, 2012 at 6:40 am

and then there’s the concern for pets using the swiffer pads. My mom bought the one you can refill yourself and she loves it, I’m saving up for one now. I love my swiffer sweeper to get all the cat hair tumbleweeds around the house.

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