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Traditional Mops vs. Swiffers: Do You Need Both?

Is a Swiffer Sweeper or WetJet necessary? Or is a traditional mop enough to get the job done?

In this article, I break down the differences between traditional mops and the Swiffer Sweeper and WetJet.

You’ll learn how they compare in terms of convenience, size, uses, overall cost, and more.

So, if you’re thinking about buying a Swiffer but not sure if it’s really better than a mop, keep reading.

Use the links below to navigate the comparison: 

Difference 1: Convenience

Using a traditional mop means getting a bucket, mixing your cleaning solution, and cleaning and drying your mop before putting it away. That is a lot of work.

Alternatively, you can grab a Swiffer and use it right away.

Swiffer Sweeper attaching wet pad

The Swiffer WetJet features a spray mechanism that dispenses cleaning solution when you engage the button on the handle.

Swiffer WetJet spray coverage

So, instead of dipping the mop in a bucket of cleaning solution or using a separate bottle to spray the floor before you wipe, you just press a button and mop.

Swiffer WetJet button to dispense cleaning solution

Even when it’s time to replace the pads on your Swiffer or refill the solution (in the case of a WetJet), the process is easy and takes just a few seconds.

The bottom line is that Swiffer mops are much more convenient –– especially for everyday use.

To highlight this point, here are the basic instructions for how to use a Swiffer Sweeper or WetJet:

  1. If you are using a brand new Swiffer, connect the components as illustrated in the manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Remove a fresh Sweeper or WetJet pad from the package and push the edges of the fabric into the four designated holes on the mop’s head.
  3. If using a WetJet, check the canister on the handle and refill it with a new solution bottle if necessary.
  4. Clean your floors.
  5. Remove the dirty pad, dispose of it, and then put your mop away.

And that’s it!

Pads for your Swiffer come in packs of varying sizes, and they can be found at retail stores and on Amazon.

Difference 2: Size

Swiffer mop heads are small, especially compared to many of the more popular microfiber mop options you’ll find online or in stores. 

Bona Spray Mop Mope Head Size Compared to Swiffer WetJet

If you’re mopping tight spaces and need a maneuverable tool, a small mop head is a plus. But if you’re cleaning a large, open area, it can make the process more tedious.

The Swiffer mop heads are around 10 inches wide, while traditional mop heads can be 17 inches wide.

For comparison’s sake, here are the mop head widths of several popular microfiber mops that are also sold on Amazon:

As you can see, the dimensional differences between these options are pretty significant. Keep them in mind when shopping around.

Difference 3: Weight

The Swiffer Sweeper is by far the lightest and most maneuverable choice. It weighs just over one pound (around 1.5 pounds).

The WetJet is heavier, and on average, it weighs about 3.23 pounds. The spray mechanism and cleaning solution add more weight, which is something to note.

Traditional mops have a range of weights depending on the materials, size, and other factors. For reference, here’s how much the mops listed in the previous section weigh:

  • TurboMop –  1 pound
  • Colinwell microfiber mop – 1.9 pounds
  • FAYINA Wet Mop – 1.94 pounds
  • MANGOTIME Microfiber Mop – 2.4 pounds
  • Bona Spray Mop – 5 pounds

A lighter mop is easier to use for lengthy cleaning projects but might be more limited in its cleaning power and effectiveness in removing sticky or challenging messes.

Lighter mops can’t sustain much pressure and won’t exert the downward force a heavier option can. Take your physical strength and preferences into account when considering a mop’s weight.

If you’re looking for a mop to clean walls and ceilings (along with floors), opt for a lighter option.

Difference 4: Pivoting Head

The Swiffer Sweeper and WetJet both feature pivoting heads, making them more maneuverable than stationary mops and allowing them to reach tight spaces or corners easily.

Swiffer Sweeper versus WetJet performance

There is significant variation in the design and shape of other, more traditional mops. Some have pivoting heads, and some don’t.

For example, the Bona Microfiber mop boasts a 360-degree pivoting mop head, similar to Swiffer, but most sponge mops (like this) feature stationary mop heads.

Bona Spray Mop Pivoting Mop Head

Even when they do feature a pivoting head, the shape of the mop may be bulkier than a Swiffer Sweeper or WetJet.

Take a good look at product images and the dimensions of the mop while performing your comparison.

Difference 5: Maintenance

Swiffer designed both its Sweeper and WetJet mops for easy maintenance. For the Sweeper, simply change the pads after each use and dispose of the used ones in your trashcan.

Maintaining the Swiffer WetJet is slightly more involved. Not only do you need to change the mopping pads after each use, but you also need to replace the cleaning liquid with a Swiffer-specific solution periodically.

Traditional mops require much more maintenance. You will need to clean, rinse, and dry the mop head after each use. After several uses, the mop pad or sponge will wear out, and you will have to replace the entire mop.

With microfiber mops, you need to clean the mop pads in the washing machine after a few uses. Keep in mind that fabric softener can ruin microfiber.

Difference 6: Batteries Required

The Swiffer WetJet features a built-in spray mechanism that operates on four AA batteries, which adds to the overall cost of the mop.

Swiffer WetJet batteries

The Swiffer Sweeper and traditional mops do not require batteries.

Difference 7: Waste

Traditional mops create little to no waste compared to Swiffers. You’ll have to replace the head on a traditional mop periodically, but they are otherwise waste-free.

The Sweeper and WetJet require frequent pad replacement. These pads are non-recyclable. So, if you are concerned about waste, Swiffer products may not be the right choice for you.

Swiffer is well aware of this issue and, to make up for it, they’ve partnered with Terracycle to offer free recycling for items (like mop pads) that can’t be recycled curbside.

To participate, ship your used mop pads to Terracycle. Each item earns you points that you can use to make charitable donations. Go to Terracycle.com for more details.

Difference 8: Surfaces

You can use the Swiffer Sweeper and most traditional mops to clean both floors and walls.

The WetJet can only be used on floors because the cleaning solution dispenser and pivoting head can drip fluid if the mop is turned sideways.

If you plan to be cleaning vertical surfaces frequently, you’ll want to go with the Swiffer Sweeper or a lightweight microfiber mop. My top recommendation is the Bona Microfiber mop.

best mop for cleaning walls and ceilings

Difference 9: Deep Cleaning

Generally, the Swiffer Sweeper is not ideal for deep cleaning. It’s excellent for everyday dusting and quick clean-ups, but if you put too much pressure on the mop, the pad will tear, and you could break the handle’s plastic components. 

Swiffer’s mop handle is made of thin aluminum that’s not flimsy, but I certainly wouldn’t call it sturdy.

Swiffer Sweeper mop handle
Swiffer Sweeper mop handle

The Swiffer WetJet is a better option for deep cleaning since you can spray as much cleaning solution as needed to deal with a specific mess.

However, the WetJet pad isn’t as absorbent as most traditional mops, so it struggles to clean significant messes. For example, if you spill a glass of milk on the floor, it would require several WetJet mop pads to absorb all the liquid.

Similarly, Swiffer products aren’t the best for cleaning oil, syrup, or other sticky substances. Those situations require a significant amount of cleaning solution and more absorbent mop pads.

Ultimately, traditional mops are still the best option for deep cleaning. You can put more pressure on the head, and you can use any cleaning solution (rather than the Swiffer-only options) and as much of it as you need.

Difference 10: Price

The upfront cost of a Swiffer Sweeper or WetJet and a traditional mop is comparable. Some high-end options, like the Norwex Microfiber Mop, cost significantly more than Swiffer, while others cost less.

Mops with microfiber pads generally cost the most, while sponge, cut-end, and looped-end mops cost the least.

After buying the initial Swiffer Sweeper or WetJet starter kit, you’ll continue to need pad refills. In the case of a WetJet, you’ll also have to purchase Swiffer cleaning solution and batteries.

To determine the annual cost of a Swiffer, estimate how often you’ll use it and do the math to understand how often you’ll need to buy a new pack of mop pads.

Each Swiffer Sweeper mop pad costs between 20 and 50 cents, depending on the size of the pack. The wet mopping pads cost more than the dry dusting pads because they’re thicker and more absorbent.

The point is, Swiffer mops continue to cost you money over time, while a traditional mop will rarely require replacement parts and is usually more cost-effective over time.

To get a better idea, check the current prices of the Swiffer Sweeper, WetJet, and refills on Amazon.

Bottom Line: Is a Swiffer Necessary?

By now, you should have a good idea of how Swiffer products compare to traditional mops.

Swiffer products are:

  • Convenient
  • Lightweight
  • Maneuverable (thanks to their pivoting head)
  • Require little maintenance

Traditional mops still shine when it comes to their ability to:

  • Deep clean
  • Reduce waste
  • Work without parts replacements, refills, or batteries
  • Save money over the long-term

I recommend having both a traditional mop and a Swiffer on hand.

Each option has certain advantages and disadvantages, so it makes sense to use the Swiffer Sweeper and WetJet for day-to-day dusting and spills and the traditional mop for more labor-intensive cleaning.

Check out the Swiffer Sweeper and WetJet on Amazon, where you can view current prices and read dozens of other reviews. If you’re not sure which to buy, check out my in-depth comparison of the Swiffer Sweeper vs. WetJet.

If you need a new traditional mop, my top recommendation is the Bona Microfiber Spray Mop. It features a large mop head and built-in solution dispenser, but it doesn’t require batteries like the Swiffer WetJet, and you can refill the cartridge with any cleaning solution. Check it out on Amazon, or read my full review to learn more.

Andrew Palermo Founder of Prudent Reviews

Andrew Palermo - About the Author

Andrew is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Prudent Reviews. He began his career in marketing, managing campaigns for dozens of Fortune 500 brands. In 2018, Andrew founded Prudent Reviews and has since reviewed 600+ products. When he’s not testing the latest cookware, kitchen knives, and appliances, he’s spending time with his family, cooking, and doing house projects. Connect with Andrew via emailLinkedIn, or the Prudent Reviews YouTube channel.

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