November 12, 2011

DIY Washable & Reusable Swiffer Duster

We've been at our new place almost exactly one month, and the very first bit of dust is starting to show on our dark bookshelves and the like.  We haven't yet turned the heat on, which (yay!) is not gas, so we haven't had the   raining down of dust problem we had at the last place.  But, today my husband (who is considerably taller than me) said he could see dust on the decorative ledges in the bathroom, and mentioned it was probably time "we" dust.  "We."  Snicker.  Gosh that's funny.  Luckily, this place still has that pristine, new-place cleanliness that I've been trying so hard to preserve, so I made it my project for today.

When we were packing for the move, I found our Swiffer dusting wand 'thingy' under the sink at the old place, and I stuck it in a box with other cleaning thingies, even though we haven't had refills for it in goodness knows how long.  It's one of the two-pronged fluffy disposable cloth-holding dusting wands with a telescoping base so short people like myself can actually reach places which need dusting. At WalMart in my area, a 10-pack of those refills is $7.87, that's IF you can find them there and IF the refills they have in stock are the kind that fit the model you own, which is discontinued and replaced with something else, I think, the WEEK you buy it.  Harumph.  Almost a buck per glorified ruffly paper-towel dusting thingy that I'm supposed to stuff in the trash when I'm done?... No thanks.

(The DIY alternative, easy tutorial after the jump.)

So I consulted the Oracle (ok, Google) and looked for the DIY alternative.  Score!  There are several bloggers showing instructions for constructing your own washable, reusable duster to fit your Swiffer wand.  In the blogosphere, people are using microfiber, felt, flannel, fleece, and more.  I checked out my stash of fabric (larger than I care to admit), and found a fleece remnant I had purchased at some point for some reason (probably because Jo Anns usually does 50% off remnants, which are already cheap).  It was a bright blue and lime green frog fleece, and I haven't used it because the frogs seem distractingly blurry to me.  But the colors make me smile and the anti-pill, ultra-soft, takes a beating, washable fleece made it a good choice for a duster.

I found two tutorials:  here at Sew Much Ado, and a less formal one at Little Dear Tracks.  I used them both for inspiration and reference, but I have a mild phobia of the sewing machine (several have met their death at my hands), and I wasn't looking to get all measurey perfect on something that was essentially supposed to get abused and dirty.  So I took a half-a*sed free spirited approach, and all went well.  If you want your duster to be thin enough to push in between small spaces, you should probably do the microfiber version, since it takes up less space.  Mine was nice and puffy which works just fine for my purposes, plus I *hate* the way microfiber feels to the touch on my hands, particular if they're remotely dry (shudder).

How I made this:

I folded my remnant (a long rectangle) in half, folded over the end to about the width of a piece of notebook paper, and cut up the crease of the fold (no measuring, but still a pretty darn straightish cut).  This gave me two rectangles.  I repeated, folding a smaller rectangle and cut the same, ultimately giving me 2 paper-sized rectangles and 2 slightly smaller rectangles.

These were lined up at the bottom (short end closest to me) small piece, 2 larger pieces, small piece (bottom to top).  Setting aside the top smaller piece for a sec, I grabbed my Swiffer wand, eyeballed the center, and used a Sharpie to trace the two-pronged part of the wand.
Then I put the smaller piece back on top, folded it in half, lined up the fold with the center line of the tracing, and then re-drew just the center line on the top piece.

Next, I threaded a hand needle and thread.  One of the tutorials is machine-sewn and looks very lovely, but hey, it's a duster, so I went with the hand version.  It doesn't take that long!  Make a nice big knot in your thread (I did double threaded) and sew up the center seam the full 4-sheet thickness of your pieces. It doesn't need to be perfectly stitched either.  I can't even see it in the fleece, since it puffs up around it!)  

 NOTE--you're not sewing clear to the bottom, as the center part stops about 3/4 inch above the wand base.  Conveniently this was to the edge of the fleece where the copyright is printed (white bar) for me.  

Then you'll probably want to get a new piece of thread going, which will need to sew double the length of the center line.  Folding the top and the bottom pieces out of the way, the first tracing of the wand is now visible on the top larger sheet.  Now sew the outside traced lines, from the bottom up.  When you get to the top, flip the top and bottom layers to the other side so you can come down the other side without sewing the top and bottom layers.

Ok to recap-- you have all 4 pieces sewn down the center line, and the two middle (larger) pieces sewn around the wand tracing.   Now flatten out all the layers and start with the smaller top piece.   I went ahead and inserted the wand to test it and better note where I needed to stop cutting the fringe. I chopped off an inch or so from each side so it was even smaller than the larger layers, and also curved the top  Again I just eyeballed & freehanded this.  Next-it's time to chop strips (about a finger-width thick) just up within an inch or so of the middle seam.  Flip and repeat on the bottom smaller sheet.

Next push these layers to the side again and do the larger sheets.  I left these stacked together and cut both at once to save time.  I curved the top again, and chopped the "fingers" within an inch or so of the sewn line.

Fluff and you're good to go!

I think this took about an hour to accomplish, but I have a three-year old who was crawling all over my workspace hollering "let me seeee" and "I wanna help you" and "look at me! I'm a froggy! ribbit!" and "I'm thirsty!" and I was stopping to take pictures, you get the idea... not exactly efficient working conditions.  If these tend to be your working conditions too, well yeah, it'll be about an hour!

I took it for it's inaugural dusting and hit all the rooms.  Worked like a pro!  AND I can toss it into the wash, re-use it, ergo, no wasted money, and no extra consumer trash!  Hey, it would've taken me an hour to haul a toddler to WalMart, find the refills, probably buy some superfluous stuff along the way and get home, so I'm ok with the time investment--and I'm still smiling at the bright blue & lime frogs!

1 comment:

  1. Yes! This is just what I have been looking for. Thanks for showing how easy this is. :)