So the last thing you want to do is use old-fashioned dust cloths or mops that are just going to stir up dust that then resettles on your furniture or, worse, in your lungs. Fortunately, dust cloths have moved beyond the old '70s feather dusters. Many now use technologically advanced fibers that allow you to remove dust and debris using fewer (or no) toxic chemicals. The question is, which are the most effective?
Disposable Dry or Wet Dusting Cloths
Dry dust cloths such as the Swiffer or products made by Clorox (ReadyMop cloths) and S.C. Johnson (Pledge Dust Cloths) are made from polyester and polypropylene, then coated with a proprietary coating that attracts dust. The manufacturers claim they trap and remove up to 80 percent of surface dust, but their main downside is you have to throw them away after one or two uses. Also, some "wet" dusting cloths are pretreated with chemicals such as ethanolomine and propylene glycol, which can irritate your respiratory passages and trigger asthma attacks.
Microfiber is a generic term used to describe any material with ultrathin fibers. In most dust cloths and mops, these fabric fibers are split even further to form tiny fiber fragments, some of which are 100 times thinner than human hair. Similar to toothbrush bristles, these fiber fragments are better at removing dust and dirt from surfaces and holding on to it, so it doesn’t fly back into the air. Microfiber cloths can also be tossed into the wash and reused indefinitely, and most microfiber cloth manufacturers say adding water—rather than a chemical agent—is fine for helping to remove dirt, grease, oils, and even some forms of bacteria.
Which is better? Read on for the answer.
Go with…Microfiber. Ditch the disposable products and harmful cleaning chemicals and do your cleaning—from dusting your coffee table to de-scumming your bathtub—with a microfiber cloth and plain water. One University of North Carolina study found that microfiber floor mops removed 27 percent more bacteria (without any added chemical disinfectant) from hospital floors than old-fashioned string mops. Microfiber products can also help if you have allergies; the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology recommends damp-mopping floors and other surfaces with a microfiber cloth once a week to cut down on spring allergens.
If you've already invested in a Swiffer floor mop or a similar product that uses disposable cloths, follow the Nickel Pincher's advice on how to jerry-rig a Swiffer mop with your own reusable cloths. For people who aren't so handy, Amazon.com sells microfiber cloths designed to fit Swiffer mops..