January 4, 2014

Cheap & Green: Jailbreak Your Purchased Wet Mop System.


I hate cleaning my house.

I like it to have been cleaned (note the use of the passive voice) but I am not among those who take delight in the actual scrubbing, dusting vacuuming stuff.

Plus, I have the kind of skin that breaks out in scaly, itchy yuck when it’s exposed to strong chemicals. I also have the kind of nose that rails at those fake, knock-your-socks-off scents associated with cleaning products, all of which smell very much like the stuff they use in bus and airplane bathrooms to cover up worse smells.

I have made my own all-purpose cleaner for years. Still, cleaning kitchen and bathroom floors was gross. I did it on my hands and knees, using rags because there was just something backwards about running a mop over dirt and then putting the dirty mop back into the clean water. It’s like taking a shower and then getting in dirty water.

I lacked the intestinal fortitude to use two buckets. (Mostly I avoided the task until we were on the edge of a visit from Child Protective Services).

Then I discovered that mop that comes with a bottle of cleaner and some disposable pads. It squirted the cleaner onto the floor for me, and I could just change the pad mid-cleaning if I needed to. It has a nifty scrubby strip for tough spots. No crawling on the floor. No bucket(s). Awesome.

Except for the fact that the cleaner was full of chemicals, and that one was supposed to keep buying new bottles of cleaner and new disposable pads and throwing the empty bottles and used-up pads in landfills for all eternity. Even if you recycle the empty bottles, it’s impossible to open and rinse them, so you are always putting chemicals in with your plastics.

So I jailbroke the sucker. Here’s how:

  1. Buy one of the aforementioned mop kits. (If you know of another device that fits the bill please post it in the comments!)
  2. Use the cleaner that comes with the starter kit. (Note: if you really don’t want to use it ever, at all, wait until step #4 and dump it out).
  3. Depending on your conscience and budget, use or don’t use the cleaning pads that come with the kit.
  4. Once you’ve used up the cleaner, remove the bottle from the device and very carefully cut a small hole in the top. Not the end that delivers the fluid to the sprayer; the bigger end that is closest to you when the bottle is actually “plugged in” to the mop.

You want the hole to be big enough to insert a funnel, but not big enough that cleaning solution will slosh out every time you move the mop. (We did this using a paring knife, but a craft knife would also work. Please, please, please be careful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). You don’t even really have to make a “hole,” per se; cutting an “X” will allow you to push in a standard funnel.

You can also try this method which I have not personally tried, but which looks promising and goes at things from the other end of the cleaner bottle.

If you have decided that you want to dump the commercial cleaner, this is when to do it.5.

5. Buy yourself some washable microfiber replacement pads for one of those steam cleaner named after an ocean predators. (You know the ones). There are replacement pads that are rectangular, and fit pretty neatly on a Swiffer. They usually come two to a pack and are available where those steam cleaners are sold (in stores and online) for about twenty bucks a pair.

6. Rinse the cleaner bottle, and then, using a funnel, fill the bottle with the cleaner of your choice. Most health food stores and co-ops stock a variety of good, green, affordable cleaners for both bathroom/kitchen floors and hardwood floors. I’ll also give you a recipe for the one I make, at the end.

7. When you’re ready to clean, attach a reusable pad to the bottom of the device, and do what you would normally do. If you’ve bought two pads you can switch them out when you feel like the first one is grimy or halfway through the floor, or never. When you’re done, they go in the laundry and then get re-used a billion times without generating any trash.

8. Repeat as needed, feeling thrifty, green and virtuous.

Two Incredibly Cheap & Easy Natural Floor Cleaners

  1. Put 1-2 Tablespoons of liquid castile soap (which I always have in the house anyway) in a quart container; fill with hot water, cap and shake to mix.
  2. Put ½ cup distilled white vinegar and 10+ drops essential oil (I like lavender or Rosemary) in a quart container; fill with hot water, cap and shake to mix. (You don’t need the essential oil, but my husband hates the smell of vinegar even for the few minutes it takes to dissipate).


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Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: Reuben Strayer on Flicker

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