How to Hack Your Swiffer

We're still not sure what Gianfranco Zaccai, CEO of the design consultancy that brought us the Swiffer, was smoking when he called P&G;'s best-selling (and admittedly revolutionary) cleaning system "eco-friendly." We're stumped: Was Zaccai referring to the toxic chemicals or the prodigious waste?

We scoured the Internet landscape to find the best ways of fulfilling Zaccai's sustainable dream, so you can haul your pre-green Swiffer dust mop out of retirement and back into action picking up cat hair and errant dust motes. And here's the kicker: You can kiss one-use disposables and poisonous ickiness goodbye for good.1. Wrap it
Cut up a rag—say an old T-shirt that's too weathered to give to Goodwill, or better yet, a towel that's practically bound for the animal shelter or landfill—and wrap it around your dust mop the same way you did with the original dry and wet wipes. Thanks to a simple scientific principle known as static electricity, dirt and debris will cling onto the fabric like crazy on Britney Spears.

Microfiber cloths work amazingly well because of their millions of dirt-loving microscopic hooks, though we haven't been able to find any that aren't made in China. We bought ours from Eco-Me after finding nothing suitable in meatspace—Home Depot's cloths were bagged in vinyl packaging, while Bed, Bath & Beyond had some chintzy-looking As Seen on TV fabrics in cringe-inducing neon colors. Our local Target, Kohls, JCPenney: Nada. (Method's Omop microfiber covers don't fit the Swiffer.)

Use a biodegradable, nontoxic, and all-natural floor cleaner—we particularly dig concentrated cleaners from Ecover and Shaklee because paying to transport water is just silly, not to mention a waste of packaging—or mix up your own with vinegar and some warm water.

2. Knit it
Knit your own reusable Swiffer covers, which you can double up for dry or wet use. One knitter had the brilliant idea of modifying a dishcloth pattern and whipping up her own cheery knitting pad. She doesn't provide a pattern, unfortunately, although it looks like all she did was seam together different-size rectangles; the main piece uses a variation of this textured stitch. Here's one free pattern we found. A knitting loom will do the trick, too.

3. Crochet it
Not a knitter? Crochet your way into reusable-pad goodness by following these instructions. (Here's another pattern.) Also, if you happen to have a Swiffer duster handle lying around, you can crochet a reusable duster. Give it a good shake out the window to get rid of the dust bunnies, and then, when it gets too cruddy to use, simply toss it in the wash with the rest of your laundry.

4. Sew it
Maybe you're handier with a sewing machine. Old clothing can be stitched into reusable pads, as well. You can run with the same idea to sew your own replacement Swiffer dusting mitts.

5. Screw it
Maybe you've fallen in love with your conventional mop all over again and the Swiffer isn't going to cut it anymore. A sheet of magnetic rubber and some adhesive can turn your dust mop into a handy screw retriever you can put to use in your garage, workshop, or craft room to pick up nuts, bolts, nails, and the like, so you can spare your back.

Do you have any other Swiffer hacks? Let us know in the comments below.

Tags: Cleaning

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