Electrostatics - The Swiffer

by Olivia Naccarato

How Does It Work?

As a Swiffer is moved across the object it's cleaning, it gains static charge. The Electrostatic Series shows the charge that the two different materials will obtain when rubbed against each other. The Swiffer's electrostatic cloths are made out of polyester, which is more electronegative than wood (the material of my floor). That being the case, when the two materials produce friction, the Swiffer gains electrons leaving it with an overall negative charge.
Dust particles are neutral. When you move the Swiffer across the object of desire, it only attracts the protons of the dust particles. This is because since the Swiffer is negatively charged, it attracts its opposite charge (negative attracts positive). This causes induced charge separation to occur in the dust particles. Induced charge separation is the movement of electrons in a substance when a charged object comes nearby without contact. Thus, the charges of the dust particles separate within each particle. The electrons in each dust particle move to the opposite side that the Swiffer is on, leaving all the protons on the side closest to the electrostatic cloth.
The protons in the dust are now aligned so that the particles are attracted to the cloth, allowing the dust particles to stick to the Swiffer. As its being rubbed along the floor, it continues to gain charge through friction, causing induced charge seperation in the dust particles, attracting them to the cloth and keeping the dust locked in to the cloth and leaving a clean, dust-free surface.


•The cloth only holds a reasonable amount of dust and debris before needing to be changed out.

•These electrostatic cloths (Swiffer cloths) are especially good for cleaning electronic appliances like televisions and computers so that you can thoroughly clean the electronic without getting any moisture into electrical parts.


The sources used to get information for this flyer are cited below.

Meyer, Russ. The Secret Life of Swiffers. 2012. Web. 13 Feb. 2013.


Ellis-Christensen, Tricia. “What Is Electrostatic Cloth?” WiseGEEK, n.d. Web. 13 Feb. 2013.


Mulverhill, Giselle. “Product reviews: Swiffer dusters.” Helium, n.d. Web. 14 Feb. 2013.


Trent. “Electrostatic Forces: The Secret to Swiffers’ Swiftness.” Trent’s Physics, 12 Jan. 2013. Web. 14 Feb. 2013.


• Blake, Leesa, Michael Mazza, Alex Mills, Frank Mustoe, Jim Ross, Thomas Stiff. "Chapter 10 Static Charges And Energy" On Science 9. 2009. Print