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8 Things You Should Never Clean with a Swiffer

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Cleaning with a Swiffer

Swiffer products may be convenient and easy to use, but cleaning experts say they’re not safe for all surfaces. From marble surfaces to wooden decks, there are a few areas where you shouldn’t be using a Swiffer to clean. Here’s what to use instead. If you’re interested in buying the cleaning products professional cleaners always buy, Black Friday is just around the corner with incredible deals on cleaning products. (And if you don’t already own a Swiffer, you should snag one—it’s one of the best-reviewed cleaning products on Amazon!)

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white marble background
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Marble surfaces

Remember your chemistry lesson on pH balances, acids, and alkalines? There are acidic foods like cheese and beef, and alkaline ones like avocados and lettuce. The same is true of cleaners, says Carol Smith, the owner of Hire A Maid. “Because the Swiffer Wet Jet has a pH level of ten, making it alkaline, it isn’t suited for any delicate surfaces like marble that require a neutral six to eight pH cleaner,” she explains.

What to use instead: “We really like the Weiman line of products and use their Laminate & Stone Floor Cleaner for marble,” says Smith.

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Wooden flooring texture background, Top view of smooth brown laminate seamless wood floor, use for architecture business or wallpaper
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Laminate floor

Again, the Swiffer presents an alkaline issue. Plus, it might not be the most effective option, says Amanda Weatherholt, crew leader with Housekeeping Associates of Ann Arbor, Michigan. “The Wet Jet leaves the floor streaky and just moves the dirt around—it does not clean the floor,” she says.

What to use instead: “I have found the best thing to use on a laminate floor is a small drop of Dawn dish soap with hot water,” she says. Don’t miss these other 16 cleaning hacks professional house cleaners use.

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Vinyl floor

“Swiffer Wet Jet is a very poor choice,” says Dean Davies, cleaning and maintenance supervisor for U.K. home service company Fantastic Services. “It takes a lot more effort to scrub tough spots, and it won’t be as effective as the regular mop.” What’s more, says Davies, you will need at least four pads to clean a regular-sized kitchen. “It’s an environmental and economic disaster!” he says. “And the floor can end up sticky and even dirtier because their cleaning solvent tends to dry very fast, leaving a sticky residue if not cleaned fast and well.”

What to use instead: He recommends using something like a commercial-grade microfiber mop to clean a vinyl floor or an E-Cloth mop to remove the most stubborn of stains.

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Old exterior wooden decking or flooring on the terrace
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Wooden deck

If you want to clean off your grungy wooden deck, step away from the Swiffer. “The Wet Jet is not suitable for wooden deck cleaning, because its pads are almost as thin as paper towels,” says Davies. “Wood deck surfaces are often harsh and will most certainly strip apart the Swiffer pads.”

What to use instead: Davies says to use a regular mop and Citra Clean Concentrate Cleaner, “as it will be gentle to the wood and won’t leave any marks.” If your deck is a mess and your Swiffer is your cleaning option, check the label to see if it’s formulated for your wood’s finishSwiffer is safe on finished floors but steer clear of using it if your deck is waxed, oiled, or unfinished. Make sure you know these 12 things you shouldn’t be cleaning with paper towels

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Anti slip rubber mat on granite floor.
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Plastic mats

The plastic surfaces in your bathroom just won’t get very clean with a Swiffer. And you may not realize that your plastic mats—and shower curtain liners—can be tossed in the washing machine to remove spills and grime, says Jennifer Gregory, brand manager of Molly Maid.

What to use instead: “Wash them with a towel, which will generate scrubbing action on the plastic items,” she says. “Washing machines can also disinfect: Add a half cup of vinegar and run it on a sanitizing cycle. Don’t worry—the smell does not linger!” Just don’t toss them into the dryer, where the high heat could damage the plastic, warns Gregory. But steer clear of these 11 things that should never go in your washing machine.

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Carpet texture
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Carpets and rugs

Your home’s carpet may be harboring harmful bacteria, germs, and allergens without you realizing it, says Gregory. A Swiffer won’t properly clean it.

What to use instead: Keep carpets clean by instilling a strict “no shoes” policy indoors, Gregory advises. “Also, vacuum carpets and area rugs several times a week,” she says. “If you have an infant or a toddler, daily vacuuming is recommended; the vacuum can remove surface debris easily.” You should also get a professional steam clean at least once a year to give it a deeper clean, Gregory suggests. Plus, check out the most dependable vacuum cleaners you’ll be glad you bought.

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Wood board

Indoor wood floors

“The Swiffer is fantastic at covering tiled and wooden floor space; it’s obviously less effective at accessing floor corners, and actually this is where most dirt and dust tends to build up,” says Sean Parry, founder of London-based cleaning company Neat.

What to use instead: His team ensures a thorough cleaning by pairing a Swiffer with a standard mop like the Turbo microfiber mop for the corners. “Sometimes when we encounter a particularly dirty floor, we find that the best solution is to simply hand-wipe the area with a microfiber cloth,” Parry adds. “This is obviously more time-consuming, but it’s unusual that we’ll have to hand-wipe an entire floor.”

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White ceramic floor tiles for the decoration of the bedroom.
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Indoor tiles

In lieu of a Swiffer, Parry likes the E-Cloth Deep Clean Mop. “Although it has a similar design to the Swiffer, with a large rectangular mop head, we really like the fact that E-Cloth is an entirely water-based technology,” he says. “It’s actually so effective that only a small amount of water needs to be sprayed from the mop head to give a great result when cleaning. No additional cleaning products are required, which means no chance of soapy residue or potential damage to different flooring types.”

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Rachel Sokol
Rachel Sokol is a longtime contributor to Reader's Digest, tackling mostly cleaning and health round-ups. A journalism graduate of Emerson College, she's a former education writer, beauty editor, and entertainment columnist.