By Rachel Sokol for Reader’s Digest
© Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
Cleaning with a Swiffer
Swiffer products may be convenient and easy to use, but cleaning experts say they’re not safe for all surfaces. From marble surfaces to wooden decks, there are a few areas where you shouldn’t be using a Swiffer to clean
Remember your chemistry lesson on pH balances, acids, and alkalines? There are acidic foods like cheese and beef, and alkaline ones like avocados and lettuce. The same is true of cleaners, says Carol Smith, the owner of Hire A Maid. “Because the Swiffer Wet Jet has a pH level of ten, making it alkaline, it isn’t suited for any delicate surfaces like marble that require a neutral six to eight pH cleaner,” she explains. “We really like the Weiman line of products and use their Laminate & Stone Floor Cleaner for marble.”
Again, the Swiffer presents an alkaline issue. Plus, it might not be the most effective option, says Amanda Weatherholt, crew leader with Housekeeping Associates of Ann Arbor, Michigan. “The Wet Jet leaves the floor streaky and just moves the dirt around—it does not clean the floor,” she says. Her solution: “I have found the best thing to use on a laminate floor is a small drop of Dawn dish soap with hot water,” she says.
“Swiffer Wet Jet is a very poor choice,” says Dean Davies, cleaning and maintenance supervisor for U.K. home service company Fantastic Services. “It takes a lot more effort to scrub tough spots, and it won’t be as effective as the regular mop.” What’s more, says Davies, you will need at least four pads to clean a regular-sized kitchen. “It’s an environmental and economic disaster!” he says. “And the floor can end up sticky and even dirtier because their cleaning solvent tends to dry very fast, leaving a sticky residue if not cleaned fast and well.” He recommends using something like this commercial-grade microfiber mop to clean a vinyl floor or an E-Cloth mop to remove the most stubborn of stains.
If you want to clean off your grungy wooden deck, step away from the Swiffer. “The Wet Jet is not suitable for wooden deck cleaning, because its pads are almost as thin as paper towels,” says Davies. “Wood deck surfaces are often harsh and will most certainly strip apart the Swiffer pads.” Instead, Davies says, use a regular mop and Citra Clean Concentrate Cleaner, “as it will be gentle to the wood and won’t leave any marks.” If your deck is a mess and your Swiffer is your cleaning option, check the label to see if it’s formulated for your wood’s finish. Swiffer is safe on finished floors but steer clear of using it if your deck is waxed, oiled or unfinished.
The plastic surfaces in your bathroom just won’t get very clean with a Swiffer. And you may not realize that your plastic mats—and shower curtain liners—can be tossed in the washing machine to remove spills and grime, says Jennifer Gregory, brand manager of Molly Maid. “Wash them with a towel, which will generate scrubbing action on the plastic items,” she says. “Washing machines can also disinfect: Add a half cup of vinegar and run it on a sanitizing cycle. Don’t worry—the smell does not linger!” Just don’t toss them into the dryer, where the high heat could damage the plastic, warns Gregory.
Carpets and rugs
Your home’s carpet may be harboring harmful bacteria, germs, and allergens without you realizing it, says Gregory. A Swiffer won’t properly clean it; instead, keep carpets clean by instilling a strict “no shoes” policy indoors, she advises. “Also, vacuum carpets and area rugs several times a week,” she says. “If you have an infant or a toddler, daily vacuuming is recommended; the vacuum can remove surface debris easily.” You should also get a professional steam clean at least once a year to give it a deeper clean, Gregory suggests.
Indoor wood floors
“The Swiffer is fantastic at covering tiled and wooden floor space; it’s obviously less effective at accessing floor corners, and actually this is where most dirt and dust tends to build up,” says Sean Parry, founder of London-based cleaning company Neat. His team ensures a thorough cleaning by pairing a Swiffer with a standard mop like the Vileda microfiber mop for the corners. “Sometimes when we encounter a particularly dirty floor, we find that the best solution is to simply hand-wipe the area with a microfiber cloth,” Parry adds. “This is obviously more time-consuming, but it’s unusual that we’ll have to hand-wipe an entire floor.”
In lieu of a Swiffer, Parry likes the E-Cloth Deep Clean Mop. “Although it has a similar design to the Swiffer, with a large rectangular mop head, we really like the fact that E-Cloth is an entirely water-based technology,” he says. “It’s actually so effective that only a small amount of water needs to be sprayed from the mop head to give a great result when cleaning. No additional cleaning products are required, which means no chance of soapy residue or potential damage to different flooring types.”