Thursday, May 16, 2013

TNO's Tips & Tricks 17 - Green your floor cleaning routine

For years I have sworn by Swiffer products.  The sweepers, mops, and dusters have always worked really well for my OCD self - who constantly needs everything to be in place while being neat & tidy.  In a former rental of mine, I used a real broom and mop to clean up wood and laminate flooring and absolutely hated everything about it.  The Swiffer product line fixed all the problems I had with a traditional mop and broom, by making the process quicker, easier, and less of a hassle to clean the actual cleaning tools.

However, I really hate that Swiffer products aren't eco-friendly and can get very wasteful.

If you think about it, each time you're using a Swiffer sweeper or wet mop, you're using a new wipe on the bottom of the sweeper or mop that you throw away when you're finished.  If you're anything like me, that means you're throwing away at least 6 but sometimes more than 10 wet and dry wipes per week.  If we take that at it's maximum, I'd be throwing away over 500 wet and dry wipes per year, not to mention the packaging involved.  It's a hefty amount of trash.

If you look further into the financial cost of the refill wipes, based on those numbers I would be throwing away almost $140 per year on wipes for my floors.

And to take it just one step further - let's look into the ingredients and chemicals in the Swiffer products.  I used their Wet Jet wet mop for years, and hadn't once thought about the ingredients until I had little children crawling around on the floors I'd just cleaned.  Specifically, the bottle states that it contains cleaning agents (including solvents), fragrance, and water.  If you look deeper onto the company's website, it says the cleaner contains water, ethanol, alkyl polyglycoside, acrylic copolymer, various fragrances, benzisothiasolinone, and polydimethylsiloxane.  That's just a few too many chemicals for my liking.

Also, there was the whole internet rumor going around that someone's dog died after being exposed to the product due to one of the ingredients being something used to make anti-freeze.  I can't confirm or deny the validity of that rumor, but - yeah, not exactly giving me the warm fuzzies about this product.

All of the above information taken into consideration helped me to finally make the jump into my next tip:

If you're not super crunchy or green-minded, this tip may be for you because of how simple and easy of a fix it can be.  Without barely any cash, you can take that same Swiffer device you have laying around your house and turn it into a greener cleaner, and here is how:

For Swiffer Wet Jet mops - 

Instead of using a new mop pad every time you clean, look at your local grocery or big box store next to their steam cleaners for sale.  Many times they will also sell replacement steam cleaner pads.  Any steam cleaner pad that looks like it has a velcro-like material on one side will stick to your swiffer as well.  We personally use machine washable Steamboy brand T2 pads, which run you around $10 per pad.  This is around the same cost of one box of Wet Jet refill pads.

For the wet mop solution, we use an old Swiffer Wet Jet solution bottle, but have just worked around the fact that they build the caps so they cannot be removed.  If you look at your solution bottle when it is empty, you'll see that you cannot get it off, even with massive effort.  We got around this {I found a tutorial somewhere on the internet, although I'm not sure what the original source was - possibly here?} for sticking the bottle in very hot water in order to loosen it enough to remove the cap.  Initially, I tried to stick the bottle in a warm cup of water from our Keurig, but that wasn't hot enough.  I found that I actually had to boil a pot of water and then stick the cap into it like the above picture.  Shortly thereafter, I was able to remove the cap.

Instead of refilling it with more chemicals, I added in a mix of equal parts vinegar and water plus some essential oils for smell.  {We use this mixture on all of our hard floors, which happen to be ceramic tile.  I've not tested this product on wood floors as we don't have any in our home.}  This eliminates the need for toxic chemicals, especially around your children and pets.  Vinegar does just as nice of a job of cleaning and isn't harmful if accidentally consumed by your child.  I tend to be overly cautious as we have a teething soon-to-be-crawler and a two year old who still sucks his thumb after touching everything.

For Swiffer Dry Sweepers -

Instead of using a new dry wipe for every clean, I use a simple microfiber washcloth.  Any thin washcloth will fit into the small pad insert tabs on the top of the sweeper, and can be thrown into the wash immediately after use.  Done and done.

{Reader submission tip?  If you're done cloth diapering or can spare one microfiber insert, these also work really well as a Swiffer sweeper pad!  Thank you Rosemary!}

If you haven't tried this technique of reusing your Swiffer in a greener way, I'd highly recommend it.  In just a few simple changes, you'll save money, reduce your waste, and use safer products around your home for yourself and your family!

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  1. LOVE this idea! My daughter isn't walking just yet and also likes to lick her hands..?? Dont ask.. I use the old fashioned mop, vinegar and water technique but I think it's counterproductive because it doesn't do as good as a disinfecting job as I'd like. If I know that I can buy a swiffer and put my own solution in then that's great! Adding this to my shopping list :)

  2. We use a Rubbermaid Reveal Mop... It is similar to the swiffer but comes with a washable/reusable mircofiber pad. The solution bottle is meant to be refilled with whatever cleaning solution you choose, and simply twists on and off. We bought an extra pad so that we always have a clean one.

  3. Funny you just posted this - we just switched from Swiffer to a steam cleaner for the exact reason of wanting to get rid of the chemicals. We actually ditched the swiffer altogether and went with this and love it! It steam cleans, so no need for solutions/chemicals at all and works great!

  4. Great suggestions! I have switched to a steam mop, and I love that I clean my floors with just water. I do have a vinegar and water spray bottle I use for tough spots. Thanks for this!

  5. be careful with steam mops. I've had more than one myself but after putting new floors in, I found out that steam mops are definitely not good for wood and/or laminate floors. I now use mops like the swiffer and the rubbermaid one. I have both but prefer the swiffer so will be trying that technique of getting the cap off the bottle as soon as the solution is emptied. :) Thanks for sharing!

    1. Good tip! We only have tile, but I'll definitely keep that in mind in case we ever change our flooring!


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