13 Unexpected Ways to Use a Swiffer

swiffer
credit: Amazon

Once upon a time, cleaning the floors was a whole big production — time-consuming, physically demanding, annoying... When the Swiffer came along in 1997, the cleaning system wasn't just a commercial success — it revolutionized housework for the modern era. Swiffer's secret is its electrostatic disposable wet and dry cloths, which attract dirt, dust, and pet hair, and don't let go, making sweeping and mopping almost effortless. But cleaning a dirty floor is not the only thing a Swiffer is good for. Here are 13 truly magical ways to use the swiveling sweeper-mop and its miraculous, dust-busting pads:

1. Prep walls for paint.

A smooth, even paint job starts with a clean canvas, and chances are, your walls are anything but. Use the Swiffer Sweeper and dry cloths to remove dust, dirt, pet hair, and other grime that may otherwise cause paint to clump.

2. Clear cobwebs and spiders.

The Sweeper's long handle makes it easy to get at hard-to-reach corners where spiders tend to hide. Instead of sweeping cobwebs down onto the floor like you would with a broom, use a dry cloth and watch them stick.

3. Banish bathroom mold.

Excessive moisture and minimal ventilation make the bathroom an ideal environment for mildew to grow, especially on the ceiling. Mold is bad, so don't let it fester! Soak a dry sweeping cloth in a mixture of water and bleach (1/4 cup for every quart of H2O), wring out the excess liquid, and use your Sweeper to mop the ceiling, re-soaking the cloth as necessary. Allow the ceiling to dry for 20 minutes, then repeat.

4. Prevent dryer fires.

Every year, nearly 1,000 household clothes dryers catch on fire and cause millions of dollars in property damage. The culprit? LINT. Buildup around the drum and in the vents can prevent heat from escaping, and in excess, the seemingly harmless fuzzy stuff can quickly become a seriously combustible clog. In addition to cleaning the filter after every load, wipe down the inside of the dryer every few weeks with a Swiffer dry cloth, use the Sweeper behind the machine on a monthly basis, and at least once per year, remove lint building from inside the dryer hose using a Swiffer duster.

5. Protect packed dishes.

Boxing up your kitchen for a big move? Use individual dry cloths to separate and cushion stacked plates, bowls, and other dishes; the traction will keep them relatively still, quiet and hopefully chip free. Plus, you can use them to wipe down dusty shelves and other surfaces as you unpack at your new abode.

6. Clean window blinds.

Window blinds are a magnet for filth, especially if you enjoy a fresh breeze; the slats trap outside grime from blowing further indoors, but the moisture in the air gives it something to cling to. Put down the feather duster; it won't do a thing. The only way to really get your blinds clean is by tackling one slat at a time. Here's a clever trick for speeding up this tedious chore: Grab a pair of kitchen tongs and wrap the end of each arm with a Swiffer dry cloth, securing with a rubber band. With the blinds open, pinch each slat between the tongs and slide it from slide to slide, cleaning the front and back at the same time. For extra dirty blinds, use the wet cloths instead!

7. Dust unwieldy ceiling fans.

Hit up your nearest hardware store for a cheap double-headed paint roller, the type where the spindles are stacked with a gap in between, rather than flush side-by-side. If you can find one with an extra long handle, even better, but alternatively, you can tape the roller to the handle end of your Swiffer Sweeper. Wrap each roller with a dry cloth secured with rubber bands on either end. One at a time, slide each ceiling fan blade through the gap between the spindles, and roll back and forth, cleaning both sides at once. To really make your fan look like new, repeat the process with the Swiffer wet cloths. Voila!

8. Freshen your drawers.

Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to a Swiffer dry cloth and tuck it into a tightly packed drawer, cabinet or suitcase. It'll keep things smelling fresh without hogging a ton of space.

9. Keep your laptop screen clean.

All those hours on the internet have left your laptop keyboard 20,000 times filthier than a toilet seat, and a haven for bacteria, germs, food, dirt, and whatever else your fingers have recently touched. Prevent dust buildup and keep sticky, abrasive, oily residues and other grime at bay by placing a Swiffer dry cloth on top of the keyboard before closing your laptop.

10. Collect missing metal items.

Round up all the earring backs, paper clips, loose change, and other small metal items that are hiding around your home by transforming your Swiffer Sweeper into a magnetic metal detector. Buy a magnetic sheet with an adhesive back from a craft store, secure it to the bottom of the mop, and have fun treasure-hunting.

11. Flip, wash, and reuse.

Save money on refills and cut back on waste by making the most of every cloth. The wet and dry mop cloths can be used on both sides, so don't forget to flip, and while Swiffer markets them as single-use disposables, the dry cloths and dusters are sturdy enough to be reused and will stay electrostatic, even after being washed. Stick the dirty ones in a mesh laundry bag — the kind you'd use for lingerie — run them through your washing machine's gentle cycle and hang dry.

12. Customize with your own cleaner.

Swiffer's WetJet spray mop dispenses cleaning solution straight from the bottle — but don't toss the empties! With a little elbow grease, you can pop the top and refill the bottle with anything you'd like. If the cap is too tight to twist open, dip it in boiling water for 90 seconds and try again. Fill with your favorite brand of cleaner or a homemade solution, screw the cap back on, and shake well.

13. Get crafty.

Swiffer's various cleaning contraptions don't actually require you to buy their other products. Generic versions of their dusters and cloths abound, and many work just as well and cost quite a bit less. Some Swiffer diehards swear by reusable microfiber towels as an alternative to the dry and wet cloths, and in a pinch, an orphan sock works too. The most popular Swiffer hack is completely DIY: Pinterest is bursting with tutorials for sewing, crocheting, and knitting cute, colorful cloths and dusters that can be used over and over again.


Amelia McDonell-Parry

Amelia McDonell-Parry

I'm a freelance writer and reporter for outlets like Rolling Stone, the Village Voice, BUST, Nylon, Woolly, and the Appeal, a podcast host for Undisclosed, and once upon a time, I was the founding editor of The Frisky.