Feather Duster vs Swiffer Duster

Black and white photo showing a feather duster, and framed photo Ostrich feathers not only dust well, but also tantalize cats :o)
Image by Keller Holmes

When I first began a professional cleaning business almost ten years ago, we used fluffy, washable microfibre cloths and fuzzy gloves. These worked great but with Swiffer dusters we were able to dust in tight spots more quickly and easily, so we used Swiffer dusters for years. We’ve also thoroughly tested using feather dusters and here are the results.

Repel or attract dust

There are major problems with Swiffer dusters that the tried and true feather duster solves marvellously. For example, dust particles naturally don’t stay stuck to the feather duster, which is very helpful. The feathers lift the dust and can be carefully shaken off onto the floor.

Swiffer products may “lock in” the dust (which is only partially true) but that isn’t really a good thing. For example, when dusting an entire home, if you do a few dusty areas, and then get around to dusting a black screen on a TV or computer monitor, it clearly puts dust onto the screen. On the other hand, with a feather duster, the dust is lifted and repelled easily with a quick shake, even if a seriously dusty area was done just prior to dusting the TV. The dust is then removed from the screen rather than added.

The most productive order of cleaning is to tidy up, then dust, before vacuuming and mopping. So it really isn’t necessary to “lock in” the dust, since the vacuum will suck up the dust that was removed from the higher areas, then mopped clean.

Efficiency: Cost and Waste

In terms of waste and cost the feather duster wins again. Replacement Swiffer duster pads cost almost a dollar per pad where I live. They only work once, then create garbage. To reduce this waste I have tried washing them. In the laundry, the dryer makes them matted and useless. Machine washing, or gently by hand will work once, but they still look less clean and less fluffy. Good old feather dusters are easy to hand wash and work perfectly after air drying.

The only benefit of Swiffer dusters

A Swiffer duster can be stuffed in small spaces, such as between electronic equipment, or the tops of books on a tight bookshelf, with no worry about crushing feathers. So a little finesse is required when dusting with feathers. It’s like lightly painting each object, rather than jamming the feathers into crevices, which may damage them.

Swiffers leave unsightly tufts all over

Another problem with the Swiffer duster is that little fluffs get caught on rough surfaces such as imperfectly sanded wood. This may seem like a small problem, but from experience, I can tell you that many, many homes have rough spots like this and it isn’t pretty leaving little bits of Swiffer material hanging off of baseboards and furniture all around the house. Feather dusters leave no trace.

Preventing Damages

Also, the Swiffer gets stuck on delicate, breakable items, such as chandeliers or fragile ornaments, whereas the feather duster can more gently and easily pass over and remove dust from these items safely. When cleaning for a living, breaking beloved items belonging to our customers is very high on the list of ‘what not to do’. It is of utmost importance to keep their things intact, while working efficiently.

And the winner is…

Through testing both the Swiffer duster and feather duster over hundreds and hundreds of hours of cleaning, the hands down clear winner is the ostrich feather duster! Nature has provided us with a renewable dusting miracle… the feather. Feather dusters are a classic icon of professional cleaning for a reason; they work amazingly well.