Back over the summer, Kristien and I visited our friends in Philadelphia. While staying at their house, I was introduced to the Swiffer Sweeper with wet pads. My girlfriend used the Swiffer in-between deep cleanings to pick up dirt, dog hair, and crumbs. I, of course, wanted to try it (you guys know how I adore clean floors) and was blown away by how well the Sweeper worked.  I went home and bought one immediately.


LOVE! Complete LOVE.  Obsession, really.  I couldn’t get over how easy the Swiffer was to use.  I appreciated that I could use a clean wet pad for every part of my house – unlike a mop, which just transfers the dirt around.  Most of all, I loved how I didn’t have to get down on my hands and knees with a rag to do my once-every-two-days wipe down (told you that I loved clean floors).


The one thing that I did NOT love was the chemicals. Obviously, I knew going into this that Swiffer wet pads contained a lot of junk (this blog has a good explanation of the ingredients).  I kind of overlooked it because no one (furry or human) in the house seemed to react to it, and I never let anyone walk on it before it was dry.  Plus – it cleaned so well.


Recently, however, I’ve been trying to switch back to greener cleaning products.   I really didn’t want to give up my Swiffer pads, but I did want something more natural, less expensive, and more environmentally friendly.


Here’s what you’ll need:


A 2.5 galloon ziploc bag

100% cotton washcloths (I had a pack of eighteen 11 by 11 white washcloths)

6 cups water

4 cups white vinegar

1/2 tablespoon dish soap

Optional: a few drops of essential oils (like Lavender or Orange) <— Edited to add: a few readers pointed out essential oils can be toxic to cats.  Here’s a list of oils that can be toxic to cats {list is not all-inclusive}. Thankfully, my solution didn’t include any oils, so I can rest easy knowing this didn’t cause Pippa’s death, but I would hate for someone to unwittingly hurt their pet.)

A Swiffer mop


In the bag, combine the water, vinegar, and soap.  Add in a few drops of essential oil to make it smell nice, if you wish.  Mix thoroughly. Add in washcloths (which will soak up most of the liquid) and seal.  Move bag around to ensure all the washcloths get wet.


To use, put on your Swiffer as you normally would (the 11 by 11 inch size was perfect).  And Swiffer away!



I think this method cleaned just as well as the wet pads, AND you can flip over the washcloth and use both sides (which the wet pads aren’t technically designed to do).


When you’re done, just rinse off any large dust bits or doggie hairs and toss the washcloth in with the rest of your laundry.  The rest of the wet washcloths will keep in the ziploc bag until you’re ready to clean again (just be sure to seal it tight).  Side note: The vinegar scent completely disappears after the floors dry.


Why vinegar?


White distilled vinegar is a popular household cleanser, effective for killing most mold, bacteria, and germs, due to its level of acidity. Cleaning with white distilled vinegar is a smart way to avoid using harsh chemicals. You’ll also be glad to know that it is environmentally friendly and very economical. (Source)


I have a few other homemade cleaning product posts coming this week, so stay tuned!


What’s your preferred method for cleaning your floors? I used to love The Shark but the Swiffer has taken it’s place – it’s just so much more easy to use.



  • Jolene (Homespun Heritage) November 11, 2013, 2:42 pm

    I do this….sort of…We go over the floor with the swiffer with a microfiber cloth from the automotive department to sweep it….then I use my steam mop to steam clean the floor without chemicals.

  • Ali November 11, 2013, 2:42 pm

    I used to use the swiffer wet jet but I always worried I was ruining my hardwoods and felt awful because I couldn’t keep my cat off the floors when they were wet (and then she’d lick her paws). I bought the rubbermaid reveal mop that you can fill with your own cleaning solutions (including vinegar) and just wash the pads in the washer with my towels. Best invention ever! It’s a lot wider than the swifter so it takes less time and I don’t have to mess with a lot of supplies – the cleaner is already in there ready to go (until I run out) and I just grab a pad.

  • Vikki November 11, 2013, 2:43 pm

    I love this. 🙂 thanks!

  • Katie @ Talk Less, Say More November 11, 2013, 2:49 pm

    YOU.FREAKING.GENIUS!! I love my swiffers too though I usually use the swiffer wet jet but this is just as good and cheaper!!

  • Verna November 11, 2013, 2:53 pm

    LOVE this! Thanks!

  • alli November 11, 2013, 2:59 pm

    ok! you convinced me to buy one 🙂 i have all hardwood floors but hate my current system. im picking one up on my way home from work! thanks for the review 🙂

  • Ashley November 11, 2013, 3:03 pm

    This is brilliant! I used to have a swiffer but hated buying the disposable pads- seemed like such a waste. I never thought of making my own! Awesome idea, thanks 🙂

  • April November 11, 2013, 3:17 pm

    Love this & will be trying it this week! I’m working towards transitioning to more natural cleaning products and was so excited to see that you will be posting on this topic this week. Thanks for doing that!

    By the way, did you ever find a more natural flea/tick product for the dogs? I’m interested in that as well.

    Love your blog… It’s my favorite. 🙂

  • Amber November 11, 2013, 3:26 pm

    That is a really good tip. We have a swiffer vacuum and a little handheld pet vacuum that I use in between deep floor cleanings (which only happen about ever two weeks unfortunately). So the floors don’t really get mopped other than that when that deep cleaning happens. However I think this would be a good way to mop in the meantime, especially the main floor of our house which sees a lot of traffic – people and animals!

  • Elizabeth November 11, 2013, 3:35 pm

    You are so smart!! I got a microfiber cleaning pad with a squrt bottle attached that I put warm water and apple cider vinegar in for out hardwood. It’s great! And it’s weird, but because my dogs hate the smell they don’t walk all over the floors until it is dry, which helps keep them cleaner!

  • Laura November 11, 2013, 4:00 pm

    We use the Swiffer wet pads as well and I wasn’t crazy about the chemicals. When we run out I will definitely try this version!! I love cleaning with vinegar. I use a solution of vinegar soaked in orange peels for a few weeks (helps with the smell) in a spray bottle to clean my counter tops and it works just as well as the other cleaners with chemicals. And it is much cheaper.

  • Shana November 11, 2013, 4:03 pm

    I bought a steam mop with washable microfiber pads this summer, and it is AWESOME. No cleaning product needed and it works on both my tile and sealed hardwoods. The dirt it picks up is a little gross.

  • SuperCutePetContest November 11, 2013, 4:06 pm

    I’ve seen quite a few options for diy swiffer padds, but these are the best by far! I love this idea.

  • Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries November 11, 2013, 4:27 pm

    I was JUST talking to my husband the other day about getting a Swiffer. We have two dogs who are shedding constantly, and a baby that’s on the verge of crawling, so I think it’d be very handy. I love the idea of the “green” cloths too!

  • Rosey Rebecca November 11, 2013, 5:01 pm

    You just saved my floors. I hate using chemical cleaning products as well, and I think it’s pretty awesome that you came up with a cost-effective, clean alternative. I’ll need to try this asap!

  • Mary Ann November 11, 2013, 5:14 pm

    Love this! Thank you from one clean floor lover to another.

  • Malinda November 11, 2013, 5:15 pm

    I have a Shark Steam mop that I love! I use that instead of the swiffer now. I really like that it’s just steam, but it totally cleans the floors great.

  • Allie November 11, 2013, 5:23 pm

    I use vinegar to clean just about everything, but I’ve always been told that even diluted vinegar could eat away at the finish…might depend on what kind of floors/finish you have. I’ve had pretty good luck with just the dish soap + water on a microfiber cloth though!

  • Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs November 11, 2013, 5:30 pm

    What a great idea! Better for the environment & my wallet! 🙂

  • Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed November 11, 2013, 5:45 pm

    This is awesome! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Elizabeth @ Positive Change November 11, 2013, 5:46 pm

    I just ran out of Swiffer pads and was hoping to find a homemade version! Perfect timing! I can’t wait to read your other posts!

  • Susan November 11, 2013, 6:03 pm

    Wow, did you invent this ” Swiffer recipe” yourself just by experimenting?

    If so, you should investigate patenting it before someone else beats you to it. Hate the smell of vinegar, but I know it is a great household d cleaner. What a wonderful idea!!!

    • Leanne November 12, 2013, 6:51 am

      I’ve seen this recipe in many forms on Pinterest/many home green magazines. For example, this one from 2009:

      It’s possible that you stumbled upon exactly the same idea/ingredients (including the essential oil) as this woman, but if you adapted it from someone, you should really source them.

      • Caitlin November 12, 2013, 10:40 am

        Of course I would source if the idea wasn’t original 🙂 But I thought of it myself. Cool to see others are on the same wasvelength.

  • miggles November 11, 2013, 6:04 pm

    Just a heads up – essential oils (lavender in particular) are toxic to cats.

    Please make mention of this in your post, and steer clear of them yourself for Pippa’s wellbeing!

    • Stacy November 12, 2013, 11:22 am

      Oh god…I hope this isn’t what led to Pippa’s death. I have cats myself 🙁 Reading this article now.

      • Caitlin November 12, 2013, 11:26 am

        It’s not. I didn’t use essential oils.

  • Katie @peacebeme November 11, 2013, 6:35 pm

    Great post! I’m excited to read more like it.

  • Amber K November 11, 2013, 7:17 pm

    Great idea! I don’t clean my floors nearly as often as I should because it’s just such a pain.

  • Heather from KC November 11, 2013, 7:59 pm

    Thanks for the tip. I am going to try this.

  • Stacie November 11, 2013, 8:00 pm

    This is genius!

  • Sara @ LovingOnTheRun November 11, 2013, 10:18 pm

    This is a GREAT idea! I use paper towels a lot and spray them with cleaner – it works just as well!

  • Sharon November 11, 2013, 10:30 pm

    OH, this is awesome! I have a swiffer, but hate the waste and price of using the pads. I will definitely try this. Thank you!

  • Ms. D November 11, 2013, 10:42 pm

    Be careful using vinegar on your hardwood (and laminate) flooring. The acid in the vinegar will eventually ruin the wood. We recently had hardwoods installed & I contacted the manufacturer (bellawood) to find out what cleaner was best to use…. they advised me to never use steam or vinegar on hardwood. Just an FYI….

  • Kendall November 12, 2013, 8:41 am

    So smart! Saves money and less chemicals. My husband and I are temporarily living with my mom who has a cleaning service but I definitely want to “green” my cleaning and household products when we move.

  • eliza November 12, 2013, 8:50 am

    LOL im suprised how new this idea is to so many people.. Ive been doing this forever..

    Have you ever used Castile? It is HANDS down the best cleaner, especially for floors and it smells amazing.. It is all natural too.

    I used to clean houses and the lady I worked with didnt worry about being green at all. She used castile b/c it actually works rediculously good.

    You can read more about it here:

    I use it to wash my face and body, clean the counter tops and the floors.. ooh it works so well!

  • Sara November 12, 2013, 8:52 am

    Stop. This is genius! Want to come clean my floors? With two dogs, three cats, a husband and a baby, our floors take a real beating. When my son starts walking I will have to clean the tile floor a little more often! (We have carpet in most rooms).

  • Teresa November 12, 2013, 10:54 am

    I love this idea! You are brilliant!! I like the Swiffer, but I thought replacing those pads got kind of expensive. I’m using your idea immediately!!!

  • Aerevyn November 12, 2013, 10:55 am


    Swiffer is my guilty, disposable pleasure (I mean, as much as a cleaning product can be a pleasure), and you just made it so much better for me. Thanks! : )

  • Janelle November 12, 2013, 12:35 pm

    What a great idea! I just bought reusable paper towels from a craft show (because I’m not great with sewing or I would have made them myself). This is a great next step in trying to throw less away. Thanks!

  • Maggie @ Just a Couple More Pages November 12, 2013, 1:03 pm

    In my old apartment we used to fill our Swiffer WetJet with vinegar and a little bit of the Method lavender cleaning solution to reduce chemicals and save money. I always wanted to do reusable pads, but we didn’t have a washer or dryer in the apartment and it just seemed like more of a hassle. But I’m holding on to this for the future, great idea!

  • Keri November 12, 2013, 1:47 pm

    This post was perfect timing for us! Since we are expecting our first, and I recently watched Toxic Baby, I’ve become even more vigilant about trying to nix toxic chemicals from our house. Will definitely be doing this in the future. Love the greener option too!

  • Marin November 12, 2013, 2:03 pm

    You definitely should not use vinegar frequently on hardwood floors. Once in a while, maybe, but if you use it consistently it will dull the flooring (too much acidity will strip the wood and cause damage).

  • Breanne November 12, 2013, 2:27 pm

    My parents have (fake) hardwood floors and have used the Swiffer forever. Interesting timing on this post though – my bestie just switched FROM the Swiffer to the Shark. 🙂

    The grass is always greener?

  • Shaun November 12, 2013, 2:59 pm

    I love green products. I am not the one that cleans my floors in my house, but I will share this with them.

  • Rachel November 12, 2013, 5:07 pm

    Great idea! I love my swiffer sweeper and instead of using the disposable dry swiffer pads, I have started just stretching a chenille sock over the swiffer and it seems to pick up everything just as well! 🙂

  • K @ Finding a Skinnier Me November 14, 2013, 2:11 pm

    I haven’t bought a Swifter pad in months because I make my own. I absolutely love it! I never thought to soak them in vinegar though, great idea!

    I make a lot of my own household cleaners because my goofy animals literally lick everything I clean. So I didn’t want them licking harsh chemicals just in case. So about a year ago I started making my own and have found they work just the same as all those harsh chemicals. Would love to see how you make yours! 🙂

  • Kelsey @ Ramblings of Change November 14, 2013, 11:15 pm

    We have that same Swiffer and I love it! It is perfect for our little apartment and is quick to use during the busy weeks. We are almost out of the regular wipes, so I will DEFINITELY plan on trying these once we are out! Thanks for the tip; I’m excited to green up my cleaning! Hope you can do one on an all-purpose cleaner!

  • Sarah Anne November 18, 2013, 5:19 pm

    I made these this weekend! Sadly, they STILL left a foggy film on my floors that won’t come up without buffing. Have you found this issue? I will continue to use them though, far better than the pre-made pads! Thanks!

    • Caitlin November 18, 2013, 5:38 pm

      What type of floor? What’s it been treated with before?

  • Jaye November 18, 2013, 7:33 pm

    Fabulous! I didn’t have a large Ziploc, so I just layered the cloths in the Swiffer cloth container once it was empty and poured the liquid concoction over top. It may start to stink after a while though as it is not as sealed as the Ziploc bag. (I couldn’t find a pack of white facecloths, but did find a pack of 12 Bar Mop Dish Cloths (12 x 12) by Mainstays at Wal-Mart.) I really find the cloths scrub better than the Swiffer even! Thanks for the tip Caitlin!

  • luna66moon December 6, 2013, 12:17 pm

    How long can you leave the clothes in the bag ? With them being a wet will they mildew or mold? Was just curious

    • AA August 28, 2014, 1:17 pm

      I know this an early post but I did want to comment. I had found this particular website a few months back and used the cleaning solution. Instead of washcloths I used microfiber cloths and put them in a plastic shoe box. I use these not just for the floor but also cleaning counters, the tv etc. Anyway I have had them in there for more than a month and so far not bacteria growth. I think the vinegar is acidic enough to retard the growth as you suggested.

  • Colleen December 31, 2013, 9:49 am

    I was wondering the same thing luna66moon, wouldn’t all the cloths just get moldy sitting in all that liquid or would vinegar retard the bacteria growth?

  • ahma February 11, 2014, 12:28 am

    i use swiffer sweeper and wet jet.but i noted it started leaving floors very i looked up solution and a lot of people were complaining about it being tacky and a couple thought it caused death of pets after licking i got a refillable cleaner with washable use vinegar,water and dishwash liquid and floors stopped being tacky.not real sure of complaints about pets as i dont have any pets.still use sweeper and prewet mop pads because i had some left over

  • Samantha February 26, 2014, 12:59 pm

    Has anyone tried dong this with castile soap instead? I know if you use either peppermint or tea trea then its antibacterial too, but Im wondering if anyone has had success using that instead?

    • Caitlin February 26, 2014, 2:05 pm

      I bet this would work! I used to clean my hardwoods with that stuff and I think it would work well as swiffer pads.

  • Carol March 11, 2014, 8:46 am

    I use your idea for cleaning floors, but I use a hand towel size, so the flaps at the end clean under the stove, fridge and so on. Another idea is to use a clean cloth on the handle and spray window cleaner on the windows and wipe clean with the mop handle and clean cloth. I have a window over my sink and couldn’t get it without a ladder until I tried my Swiffer handle, windex and clean cloth. Works great and now I do that window every month instead of once a year!

  • Michelle June 24, 2014, 5:54 pm

    In addition to your great idea,,I take a big jug of vinegar,,throw 4 -6 lemon peels,,orange peels in it. Let it infuse for a day.
    Then for laminate floors I use one part vinegar,1 part 70% rubbing alcohol.
    The smell is lemon,, not vinegar smell and the alcohol makes it dry quickly., so no streaks!
    I fund this concoction by accident. Put it on a rag and hold ontop of those nasty scuff marks that arebone your walls,,,,you know the kind when you think you have no other option but to paint. It will come right off.

  • Cynthia July 6, 2014, 10:00 am

    Hi, I did this last week and was very skeptical at first. I have always used the swifter wipes to clean my hardwood floors and granite floors because I thought that was the only way it would get cleaned. I have three little kids and wanted to make sure my floors were super clean. I got so tired of paying for the swiffer wipes every week and came across your website. I fell in love with this. I have never seen my floors so clean and wood floors so shiny, naturally! I have Brazilian wood floors and was so scared the swifter wipes was going to ruin them but I wanted to keep my floors clean. I tell everyone about this cleaning solution!

  • gladmama August 5, 2014, 9:49 pm

    Thanks a ton! I just bought a swiffer and thought, oh no, this stuff cannot be good for me and why pay so much $$$!!!

  • alessandra September 30, 2014, 10:42 pm

    thanks for this brilliant alternative to toxic cleaners that have been esacerbating my asthma for years. I will try it it tomorrow! I am just a little worried it may be too much water for hardwood floors. What scent free homemade mix do you recommend to clean antique wood furniture?

  • Jess November 10, 2014, 6:24 pm

    I absolutely love this idea. I purchased several microfiber cloths from the Dollar Tree (two for a dollar AND funky neon animal prints? Yes please!) I mixed up the solution, added the cloths, double bagged it a viola. Couldn’t be easier to mop up the litter box area without harming the cats with harsh chemicals. Thanks!

  • Michelle February 20, 2015, 2:18 pm

    I believe some vinegar is made from GMO’s and makes the consumer cough while breathing it in especially when it is sprayed in the air. Whole Foods currently carries a large white vinegar that is organic. The size is 64 fluid ounces. A smaller more expensive version is also available in glass if you are trying to put less plastic into the environment. Your idea is great. I never thought about it. I am going to do it. Michelle

  • Jean March 6, 2015, 8:46 am

    Thanks so much for your great idea! I was so glad to see someone else wanting the convenience of the swiffer without the chemicals!
    I do want to add that the vinegar to water ratio is very high that you recommend. The recommended amount is 1/2 to 1 cup per gallon to wash wood floors. I did ruin some areas of my hardwood floors over the years using too strong of a solution in a spray bottle where there was high traffic.
    Thanks again so very much.

  • Jean July 14, 2015, 11:19 am

    THanks I also added vinegar to dollar store floor pads , I NEEDED to have some to just toss as large amounts of dog hair.

  • Dolores August 5, 2015, 11:14 pm

    We have switched all our cleaning products over to natural biodegradable cleaning products in the last couple years. And got hooked on a swiffer last year as well. When you have an apartment that isn’t huge saving space is always good and swiffer takes up no space at all. The pads are the last one we need to switch over and have been searching for something more natural for months that actually works. I ended up buying pads again recently because I couldn’t find anything 🙁 I’ll definitely have to try this when run out. Does anyone know would the dry cloths also work as the dry wipes for laminate? Or do I need something different? A softer cloth perhaps?

Previous post:

Next post:

Healthy Tipping Point