Many modern consumers have shifted away from throw away (disposable) style Swiffer mops and have moved to machine washable microfiber style mops. Most people who've made the change point to the enhanced cleaning ability, the environmental benefits, and of course the potential cost savings of using a microfiber mop over the disposable Swiffer alternative.
Here, we aim to give an honest assessment of the costs associated with microfiber mopping vs throw away sheet mops. The primary costs when comparing a microfiber mop vs a disposable sheet Swiffer style sweeper are:
- Initial cost of mop + cleaning pads
- Lifespan of the cleaning pads
- Replacement cost of cleaning pads
- Lifespan of the mop itself (how long before it breaks or falls apart!)
Short on time? Here's a snapshot summary of the cost comparison between reusable microfiber style sweeper / mops and Swiffer throw away style for the average user (full details and breakdown below chart)
The cost of buying a swiffer sweeper kit ranges from $12 - $20 for a kit. The kit generally comes with 10 throw away pads (a combination of wet and dry pads). The mop itself is comprised of a plastic mop head base and 4 aluminum pieces which lock together to form the handle.
Microfiber mop kits range from $20 - $40 depending on the build of the mop (aluminum, steel, tin, plastic.. etc) and the number of pads included. Like with most things, you largely get what you pay for. A mop made with quality parts will cost a bit more but will perform better and last longer. The cost of our Turbo brand extendable handle microfiber mop kit costs ~$35 including shipping. Our kit includes our extendable 1-piece aluminum handle and aluminum mop head as well as two 18" machine washable microfiber pads and two scrub pads. We like to think our product is a good value as far as microfiber mops are concerned since the price is in line with the market and the materials are as good or better than any of our competitors.
Lifespan of Cleaning Cloths / Pads:
Swiffer makes no claims about the ability to reuse their sheets. This is largely because they want consumers to buy more and more of the refills. Regardless, the cleaning sheets tend to break down in a washing machine and during cleaning, ultimately making them a disposable product. So, the short answer is that a Swiffer sheet will generally last only one time before they go to the landfill. Therefore, a starter kit with 10 sheets included, will give you approximately 5 - 10 cleanings (depending on how dirty your floors are). Most people burn through these 10 sheets in their first month before needing a pack of refills.
Microfiber mop pads are machine washable. Advocates of microfiber cleaning products point to the long term cost savings of machine washable microfiber vs throw away sheets, but are they right? Well, assuming normal use of a few times per week and machine washing once or twice a week, your microfiber mop pads will last about a year and much longer for infrequent users. This translates to roughly 45-70 wash cycles. (See our article:
How Long Do Microfiber Mop Pads Last? for more info on microfiber mop pad lifespan.) Once a microfiber mop pad is no longer doing it's job, there are other creative uses (see here) before it finally gets disposed of. The cost of using a "throw-away" product will be higher in the long run. This is outlined in the next point.
Here's where Swiffer makes their money. A 48-count of Swiffer refills costs from $12-$20. Going off our logic of one use per sheet, that equates to about $.30 per cleaning.
Microfiber Mop Pads
Not all microfiber mop pads are created equal. Our Turbo brand microfiber is made with looped fiber construction - a feature that helps trap more dirt, dust and hair than most competitors microfiber, which does not offer this same feature. It costs us more to produce our pads, but the looped microfiber just plain performs better -- and so we think it's work it. Further, some pads are thin and lack the absorption ability that you find in a premium microfiber pad like we offer. Again, we will use our pads as an example of cost. Our pads cost ~ $6 / pad. The general price range is $3-$10 per microfiber replacement pads online. Now, considering a pad will give you (conservatively) 50 wash cycles & cleaning sessions, the price comes out to ~ $.12 per cleaning.. (or about half the cost of Swiffers).
The same pricing logic holds for spray style microfiber mops vs Swiffers wet jet.
Final Cost Breakdown for Year 1 (assuming 10 Swiffer sheets per month):
Mop Cost: $15
144 Replacement Sheets: $45
Mop Cost: $35
0 Replacement Pads: $0
Even in the worst case scenario where you end up buying a second set of microfiber pads, you'd come out well ahead after one year. If we extrapolated this out past a year, the savings mount up even more - for a few reasons. One, the replacements pads last most people for more than one year. Two, the Turbo microfiber mop itself is less likely to break (lasts longer), and therefore you'll save money by not having to purchase a new Swiffer if & when it breaks.
Don't Forget! All this time, you haven't produced any waste when using the microfiber other than the water in your washing machine. After one year's time using the Swiffer, you'd have thrown away many dozens of disposable sheets.