Thursday, November 4, 2010

Reuseable Swiffer Cloths

The good folks at Swiffer were really onto something when they created the Swiffer mop.  Sure, there had been other mops that could be used to dust or scrub, depending on the amount of liquid you used, but the Swiffer mop had one feature I'd never encountered before:  that universal joint that attaches the handle to the head.  It gives me the most delicious feeling of "hey, I'm mopping the floors really fast!"  (I know, I need to get out more.)  It also reaches into corners and around round things in ways you wouldn't expect from a blocky rectangle head.  You can see above that I've worn mine until the handle is about to snap.

What I don't love is the disposable cloths that you use once, throw out, and buy again and again.  Part of me wants to make a high-minded argument to you that it is not environmentally responsible to keep buying cardboard boxes and plastic tubs full of dust cloths and floor washing cloths, only to send them to a landfill about 2 minutes after you use it.  But the whiner in me was just really tired of paying for the things, lugging them home, and then lugging them to the curb later (OK, hubby does that last part, but you get the point).

Enter the fleece substitute.  As you may know if you have been with me for a while, I can solve anything with fleece.  It is the duct tape of fabrics, and right now there are many remnants of fleece -- bolt ends and miscuts -- in a bin at your local fabric store.  Go get a remnant for less than you would pay for a single box of Swiffer refills (I regularly get about a yard for less than $2 in the remnant bin), and cut into about 6" by 10" rectangles.  They fit onto the head beautifully.  Spray with whatever cleaning fluid you like, or none; the fleece does a great job of dusting.  Then just wash them with sheets, towels, jeans, or whatever heavy-duty load you have.

(As an aside, as an instructor of advertising history, I am fascinated by the number of products that are currently sold with the message "use once and throw the dirt/germs away."  It will be interesting to see how this evolves as our societal germ-phobia comes up against the increasing interest in sustainability.)

The Analysis

Fast:  Not counting time for a trip to the fabric store (because that's pleasure, right?), a stack of these took about 10 minutes to cut.  I wasn't particularly exact about it.

Cheap:  I cut these before I started tracking my fleece prices for this blog, but I'm pretty confident I got a stack of these made for less than $1.  I still purchase the disposable wet cloths occasionally, but I have purchased one box this calender year, compared to probably one every six weeks plus a nearly comparable amount of the disposable dusting cloths before I started making these reusable ones.  Let's do the math on this one:

Before reusable cloths:
9 boxes wet cloths per year @ $5.09 ea. (Costco) = $45.81
6 boxes dry cloths per year @ $4.42 ea. (Amazon) = $26.52
Total = $72.33

With reusable cloths:
Stack of fleece reusable cloths = $1
1 box wet cloths = $5.09
Total = $6.09

Savings:  $66.24 for about 10 minutes of work

Good:  They work just as well as the commercial variety, and to date (since February) I have thrown away only one.  (And that one was just nasty from a one-off cleaning disaster.)
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1 comment :

  1. love your blog. FYI, to make this even less expensive, I wait for the thrift store to do dollar a bag days and salvage the fleece from garments. My local thrift store owner even saves some fleece garments she otherwise would toss due to stains for me to salvage this way.

    The fleece remnants, too pricey compared to the cheap fleece blankets I see as loss leaders at the feed store.