We've all seen the commercials for Swiffer products. They promise us cheap, quick, effective cleaning that enable us to spend more time doing the things we would rather do.
These advertisements are so pervasive that a couple of weeks ago I succumbed, especially thanks to a coupon in the local Sunday paper. I was halfway through my move to my new apartment in Johnstown and needed some sort of cleaning tool for the everyday stuff.
Swiffer promises to replace both a broom and a mop -- and clean better than both, depending on which of the clothes you put on it.
Clothes are averaging around $3 for the store brand and $4.50 for the Swiffer brand when purchasing a box of 16; more for the larger packages. Combining coupons and sale prices, I really thought this was a great deal.
That is, until I finalized my move and had to start cleaning with it. Swiffer is terrific for the residual dirt that typically escapes your eye and often your feet when you walk (but turn your feet and socks black when you walk on the floor). But that is where the value stops.
Having cockatoos, I constantly have small debris on the floor. Even with seed guards on their cages, it's almost inevitable for some bird food to wind up on the floor. Newspaper put around the cage to catch droppings likewise is imperfect, leaving the occasional dried on bird mess.
This was the perfect test for Swiffer. Could one dry and one wet cloth clean up two days of bird mess with just a few seeds, pellets, and nuts on the floor as loose and maybe three or four poops on the floor?
The results: it picked up the dust on the floor, but nothing else. The bird food was literally just pushed around haphazzardly -- without the control I'm accustomed to with brooms and dust pans.
Trying the wet cloth, I found it completely ineffective at cleaning anything up. As a mop it was less effective than even just pouring some water on the floor and smoothing the water out with a shoe.
At a cost of about 25 cents per cloth, I was no cleaner in my bird room after swiffering than I was before spending the ten minutes or so trying to get any of the mess up.
In the end, i had to go over my 10 foot by 10 foot room FOUR TIMES to do what would have taken me ONE pass with a regular broom and dust pan.
Swiffer sweeper, it turns out, is mostly just a floor duster. Despite it's hype, it's not nearly as effective as either a broom or mop. It takes more time to swiffer than sweep with a broom or mop. To make it worse, it's bad for the environment (all those cloths to dispose of after minimal use) and costs a lot more. After $30 total for the kit, one 16 count box of dry cloths, and one 16 count box of wet cloths, I've cleaned NOTHING -- but a little dust on my floor.
My advice: invest in the broom and mop and leave the swiffer behind. Vacuum to catch any tiny particles missed by your broom. You'll save money, throw less stuff away, and only go over your floors ONCE!
Laurel A. Rockefeller, author
The Great Succession Crisis
E-Book ISBN: 9781476243344
Print book ISBN: 978-1479144808
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