Wednesday, March 05, 2008

"Greening" Your Spring Cleaning

A good friend told me once that, according to her mom, the only way to scrub a floor was on your hands and knees. For months, I tried it, each week getting out a rag and bucket filled with hot, soapy water and scrubbing my kitchen on my hands and knees. Then I got new flooring put in and the dirt was a lot less conspicuous. Laziness set in and I bought myself a Swiffer mop. After using it once, I realized my friend’s mom was right…partially.

I agree with my friend’s mom that there is a good way to clean, and a bad way. The bad way, in my humble opinion, leads to less-than-clean results and/or creates excess waste. My Swiffer mop didn’t get my floor as clean as I wanted it, and it created lots more garbage. I had to find a happy medium—something that got the floor clean, didn’t require creating a bunch of garbage and didn’t mean I had to spend an hour every weekend on my hands and knees scrubbing. I was also concerned about what kind of chemicals go into the wet mops, especially now that I have a baby at home just starting to crawl on my kitchen floor.

What I decided to do was to make myself a cloth that I could fit over my Swiffer brush that I could wash and reuse. It slips easily over the brush end, and can be used to dust or mop (wet or dry). It’s easy to make your own (It took me about 10 minutes):

1. Cut a piece of fabric 18 in. by 5.5 in.; a recycled piece of clothing or a towel works great (I used stretchy fleece pajamas)

2. Lay your Swiffer mop down on the wrong side of the fabric and fold the ends over the back of the mop; if your fabric is stretchy, pull it fairly taut, but if it isn’t, leave a little room so you can pull the cover on and off later

3. Slide the mop out and pin the fabric in place

4. Sew along your edge using ¼ in. seam, or even use a stapler to fasten it

5. Voila! If you want to use it as a mop, dunk your cover in hot, soapy water, wring out—and then, of course, place it on your mop and get cleaning! If you just need to fetch dust bunnies, you are set to go with it dry!

The cover can be washed in the machine unless you stapled it, then it is better to hand wash so it isn’t caught on your clothes.

So many companies now offer environmentally friendly cleaning products it can be overwhelming. Sometimes, it’s just as easy and less expensive to make your own using common household products like lemon juice and baking soda. If you prefer to buy versus make your own, most grocery stores now carry many of the following “green” cleaning products:
Seventh Generation
Earth Friendly
Bon Ami

Want more information on how to “green” your spring cleaning? Check out the Treehugger or Grist guides.


KristenMary said...

That seriously rules. What a great idea!!

Willa said...

Admittedly, I love a clean house but I can be lazy when it comes to cleaning. I have to be in the right mood and mindset to get anything done. That might be why I am obsessive about throwing stuff away, keeping a minimal amount of anything to be cleaned and/or organized.

I couldn't agree with you more regarding the additional waste from the Swiffer mops. We have a dry swiffer and I do like to use it on our wood floors for quick dust pick-ups. I have always felt bad about throwing away the paper cloths so I started haphazardly attaching an old towel instead. I like yours much more! Will you make one for me????

jensmith98 said...

Awesome! I've got to make me one.

gibegi said...

Your fabric version is great! I have this pattern at home and just haven't had time to whip one up...

jensmith98 said...

Eureka! I decided to be super lazy and just cut squares of flannel out and then put then attach it by using the little holes on the top of the swiffer. It picks up dog hair and dust bunnies just as well as the pricey store bought version.

PumpkinGirl said...

Jen - way to go!! I use my new handmade one every week. It rocks!!!

gigibelts said...

I've read through your blog and I'm amazed how creative you are. I applaud you for your witty and thrifty ideas.