How to Eco-Hack Your Swiffer-Style Mop

Here's my reusable rag hack and how I fill the Swiffer with vinegar.You know which household chore sucks the most? Oh, dusting? Yeah, you’re probably right. But this one comes in a close second.


Is there anything more frustrating? I think not.

When I first lived on my own I used the mop that came with the house. NOT the highest quality of cleaning supplies, I probably don’t have to tell you. The mop was one of those old rag-head models, with permanently-grey fibers that sort of always smelled like stale goldfish water. I would announce to my roommates, “Don’t come into the kitchen for a while, I’m going to move wet dirt around the floor!” It never felt like I actually cleaned the floor.

Then, in my early-20s, Swiffer released that fancy-shmancy bright and shiny new wonder mop. It was like paper towels, but for the floor! It was always clean! It had jet sprays of chemical freshness!

The lady who loathed mopping that lived inside of me – she was intrigued. But that dang hippie who had taken up residence in the fore of my brain? She said, "No way!" No disposable, toxin-misting mop of eco-destruction would be entering my home. Not a chance.

So I didn’t get my new mop just then. But flash forward a few years, and I found myself living as a proud new owner in my first real home, with my fiancé. And somewhere along the way - between the moving and the mixing and the hand-me-downs - we had acquired this Swiffer-style mop.

My precious.

Once I had it in my hands, it wasn’t hard to imagine the green conversion. In fact it was simple, it was as if that little bugger was begging for an eco-makeover. Here’s what I did:

1. Replace the disposable pads with washable fabric. For me, this was simply a matter of cutting an old bath towel into small rectangles. The terry cloth fastens onto the mop head just exactly the same way as the paper would (see photo). Easy peasy. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Fabric pieces should be hemmed before machine washing, to avoid damage to your washer.)

2. Save the empty chemical canister; re-fill it with DIY cleanser. I fill mine up with straight white vinegar, undiluted. (Vinegar kills bacteria.) You can add essential oils or lemon juice or castile soap or fairy dust or whatever else it is you like to clean with.

I use my modified mop all the time, and now the chore doesn’t feel like so much of, well, a chore! Okay, maybe it still does, but at least I’m no longer just watching dirty water sloshing around my kitchen. My bathroom tiles shine beautiful and bright, and my bamboo flooring in my Portland home looks so clean you could eat off it  Which is what my toddler routinely does, and which is all I really care about these days. So good enough for me, I say!

Sayward Rebhal writes for

Updated June 10, 2018.

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