7 Ways to Swiffer for Less

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Swiffers and the like make traditional mops seem positively archaic. This new breed is defined by disposable cleaning pads and self-contained cleaning chemicals. Goodbye, dunking, ringing, and swishing around. It's an efficient system, for sure -- and a boon to apartment dwellers who lack space for a mop and pail -- but "Swiffering" doesn't come cheap.The original Swiffer Sweeper ($13 for a starter kit) uses a dry disposable cloth to pick up hair and dust and a wet disposable pad for grime. The WetJet ($24 for a starter kit) sprays proprietary cleaning solution and wipes up dirt with a disposable cleaning pad. Because the pads generally are used just once, costs and waste quickly mount. Ahead of spring cleaning, here are seven environmentally friendly and inexpensive hacks for cleaning floors quickly without the constant need to replenish Swiffer cleaning pads.

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A 37-count box of branded dry sweeping refills costs about $10, and a 12-count pack of wet cloths goes for about half that. With biweekly mopping and a sweep every couple of days, the cost adds up to about $60 a year. To save some money, wash Swiffer dry sweeping cloths in the washing machine. Believe it or not, the sheets hold up and retain their electrostatic properties through a couple of washings in a mesh laundry bag.

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Even more eco-friendly than washing the throwaway Swiffer cloths is substituting a truly washable option. Microfiber cloths ($13.50 for a 24-pack on Amazon) attract dirt, hair, and dust, and are tossed into the laundry instead of the garbage. Use binder clips to hold the cloth in place over the Swiffer head.

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A cheap and stylish way to clean with a Swiffer calls for reusable handmade pads available on Etsy. Sellers make Swiffer "refills" from fleece and crochet or knit them from yarn (patterns are also available). Many of these handmade alternatives cost less than $10 and come in a range of designs.

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Socks are a popular Swiffer hack suggested by numerous home blogs. Simply pull a sock over the end of the Swiffer Sweeper and get to it. Chenille works particularly well, because the fabric is soft and the fibers run in different directions and trap lots of dirt.

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When floors need a deeper clean than a sock can provide, turn to an Instructable for using dishcloths as an alternative to Swiffer WetJet pads. Choose dishwashing cloths with scrubbing mesh on one side ($9 for a five-pack on Amazon), affix to the mop head with binder clips, and cut holes for the cleaning-solution nozzles.

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Another substitute for pricey WetJet refills are store-bought reusable pads. While a 24-count pack of WetJet cleaning pads costs about $13, reusable Orowix Spray Mop Pads cost $9 on Amazon and can be washed over and over again. It's hard to find a generic replacement for the cleaning solution, which typically costs more than $5, because the bottle must fit into a holder on the mop stem.

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The most cost-effective solution to the Swiffer conundrum may be -- wait for it -- a mop. The Joy Mangano Miracle Mop, immortalized in the recent movie "Joy" starring Jennifer Lawrence, goes for $20 at Bed Bath & Beyond and requires no extra parts or refills. The more traditional Quickie Original Automatic Sponge Mop costs slightly more than $8 at Walmart. Reviews of both products say they scrub well and are easy to use, although some users found the Miracle Mop too heavy and cumbersome.