How Have Our Go-To Cleaning Tools Improved Over Time?

Major upgrades have been made to the cleaning essentials—including mops, brooms, and scrub brushes—we use regularly.

If you're curious about how natural cleaning products work or why baking soda is such a powerful ingredient, you've come to the right place. We'll explain the science behind some of the most popular cleaning methods and tools, so you can you clean smarter—not harder. Follow along with Clean Science to see which technique we break down next.

The cleaning tools we use today aren't necessarily new: Most are age-old models that have been upgraded with both efficiency and efficacy in mind (thanks, science!). From mops and brooms to sponges and toilet scrubber brushes, the modern consumer needs inexpensive cleaning essentials that help get household chores done quickly. These needs have culminated in the present market, which is filled with products that are the definition of innovative. To learn more about how these tools have changed, we spoke with Morgan Brashear, a Swiffer Senior Scientist; ahead, she explains how and why these cleaning kit essentials have been upgraded over the years.



According to Brashear, mops are one of the tools that have changed the most; Swiffer, she says, played a part in the transformation. The original Swiffer was released in 1999 at the dawn of what we now call the "quick clean" category. "Since that time, family schedules have only become busier and more demanding, and the need for products that meet this promise of a more efficient clean in less time continues to grow," she explains. To see how far we've come, consider what the mopping process used to entail—multiple tools (a broom first, a slew of mops, including sponge, strip, and string, a pail of water, liquid detergent, and more) and a back-breaking process (that ultimately involved swirling filthy water over a floor). Today's iterations streamline the method, notes Brashear—you have steam mops that sanitize sans any product at all, one-stop iterations with built-in cleansers, such as the Swiffer Wet Jet ($25.99,, and bacteria-repelling mop-heads that reduce the yuck factor.


Speaking of brooms, know that these have evolved, too. "Brooms were inefficient tools for cleaning," Brashear explains of the models of years' past. "They pushed dirt around and couldn't pick up tacked-down soils." Today, there are several different products available—including the Bissell EasySweep Turbo ($39.99,, which is essentially a grade below a vacuum—that don't just sweep; instead, they're truly part of the dirt removal process, especially if they offer a two-in-one wet and dry setting. "This makes it a more effective solution on its own—or as the first step before wet mopping," she adds.

Disposable Toilet Brushes

In recent years, we have focused our efforts on eco-friendly cleaning formulas and reusable tools, alike. There are, however, some instances in which a disposable model is preferable, and that's especially true when it comes to the item you use to clean your toilet—after all, even the plastic brushes that go for longer need to be replaced at some point! Enter disposable toilet brushes like the Clorox ToiletWand Toilet Cleaning System ($7.96,, which broke onto the market a few years back. They were originally popular because they eliminated the need to store soiled toilet bushes in your bathroom, but now, in the context of the pandemic, we know that being able to throw away the items used to clean arguably the dirtiest surface in the house is quite reassuring.

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