Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mops and Other Kitchen Tools

I bought into the hype. I had five kids living at home, two of whom were under five and two of whom were teenagers who didn't do much more than eat, sleep, and grumble when they had to do a chore. My only goal in life, at that time, was to be able to do those things around the house that needed to be done quickly and easily. So, I bought into the hype around the Swiffer, and I coveted one. I was pretty well convinced that it would make my floor cleaning chore so much easier and more efficient, and I'm one of those people who needs a clean floor - some people like neat counters, I like clean floors.

My wish was granted, and I was gifted a Swiffer Wet Jet. It takes six AA batteries, some cleaning solution (custom sized to fit the little dispenser ... and not refillable), and little pads that velcro to the bottom of the handle.

I was so excited. I had my Wet Jet, and I was cleaning my floors and life was good.

Until, one day, I realized that my, formerly white, floor was starting to look a little gray. No matter how much cleaning solution I sprayed and how many times I used the Swiffer, the gray was there. I knew it hadn't been there before, and I realized that the Wet Jet wasn't really cleaning the floor. Actually, it was just spreading the dirt around. Instead of getting the dirt off the floor (like a regular mop), it was just distributing it more evenly on the floor, and the dirty "water" (the solution) was drying to the floor and leaving a dull gray appearance.

I didn't like that.

But worse, I started to look, very closely, at the product and what it was costing me, and I realized that I was pretty well being taken to the cleaners ... although my floors were no longer very clean.

And to use the solution, I needed to have batteries. Don't forget the batteries to power the motor that squirted the solution onto the floor.

Between the pads, the solution, and the batteries, I was spending a whole lot of money for dirty floors.

I stopped buying the solution and putting batteries into the swiffer, and I started just getting the pre-wettened pads that were made for the other kind of swiffer (the one without the sprayer). It worked okay, although my floors weren't any cleaner, and I found that I needed to get down on my hands and knees and actually scrub the floor every couple of weeks, using the Siwiffer just for cleaning up the inevitable daily spills from a family of five with young children and a dog.

And then, one day, I thought, "Why?" Why was I spending $4 every two weeks to purchase pre-wettened swiffer pads when a wet rag would do just as well?

In fact, it actually works better than the Swiffer pads, and it's considerably less expensive. I was using up to five pads every time I cleaned the floor, and with the wet rags, I can actually rinse them out when they get too soiled instead of throwing them away.

As long as the handle stays attached to the head, I'll never have to replace my mop. My swiffer "pads" are an old cut-up terry cloth towel ... it used to be white ;). If I want to get fancy, I sprinkle some essential oil, like Tea Tree or Geranium, on the cloth each time I rinse it.

I keep telling myself that I'm going to sew up some better looking swiffer pads, and I have actually seen something like it for sale online, but mostly, I figure why bother. It works just fine, as is, and as with a lot of other things in our culture, there's really no need to get fancy, because fancy may look better, but it doesn't, necessarily, work better. Besides, there are a lot of other things I could (or should) be sewing that aren't so frivolous - and as long as the towel square does the job of cleaning my floors well enough, there's little incentive to spend the energy ... that could be spent doing something really cool ... like harvesting the blue oyster mushrooms and cooking "all-local" beef stroganoff to spoon over homemade egg noodles....

... or bottling the lavendar/chaga kombucha (which is delicious and tastes like a Margarita - so far, it's my favorite).


  1. Jack and a lot of people from some of the island communities use this T shaped mop's just a T of wood, with the handle being the long part of the T. He puts a wet towel (old towel for cleaning, not a good towel) down and wraps part of it around the end of the T-stick (don't know what they're called) and the weight of the wet towel keeps it on the stick. You then pour a bit of hot sudsy water on the area you want cleaned, or whatever cleaner you want, and it gets it up really well, just mopping back and forth. The floor has to be swept well first. Here's a link to what it looks like: It doesn't get much cheaper and straightforward than that, and the cubans have mostly tile floors, so they do a lot of mopping! :)

  2. Lol... I occasionally look at the Swiffers when I'm in the store, and then I remind myself why we don't have one. One double-coated dog means that in one day the dog hair would clog any swiffer almost instantly, and the amount of dirt tracked in would mean I'd have to use a TON of those cleaning pads. Instead, I sweep every day or two, and instead of a mop I shuffle around on an old, damp towel. Works great, and I just throw the used towels in with the next wash load. It's faster than using a mop too!

  3. I had a very similar experience with Swiffer. I wasn't happy with it so I cut some rags so that they would fit around the mop head. I stack 3 or 4 of them and then use 2 rubberbands to secure the rags and start cleaning the floor. As the top one gets dirty I remove it and continue mopping.

  4. There's a lot of patterns to knit or crochet washable covers for swiffers out there. I'm still old school and just go for the cotton string mops myself.

  5. I came to the same conclusion about my once much-wished-for swiffer. I do still like mine, though, because I can wash the rags after each use. My mopheads aren't so user friendly. And I keep my "bins" from the old cloths. I keep my rags in there with a little vinegar water. Just as convenient, and works better!

  6. I love my swiffer, but I HATE the chemicals and pads they send with it. I make my own mix and put it in an old squirt bottle, and just squirt the area I'm about to mop. Usually I use an old rag, but I'm planning on making a few of these:

    ...simply because I don't want the kids using the same cloths I use on the floor on my dishes (I'm weird that way).

    The swiffer comes in handy for wiping down walls every spring and fall. So much easier than getting on a step stool and reaching the high spots.

  7. My Swiffer is collecting dust in a corner of the utility closet. It didn't take me long at all to get tired of buying batteries and cleaning solution and pads. LOL I guess it's time to donate it. I much prefer my old fashioned lightweight mop.

  8. I use something made by O' is like a large swiffer but you use terry cloth pads that fit over the head and then you are able to wash them each time. It works great...a little bit of of investment at the beginning but I have had my pads for five years. I just fill my sink with water and vinegar for my cleaning solution...


    A post I thought you might enjoy from tansy. She is in in the middle of a whole preparedness series.