My Top 10 of the Top 10 Tips for Easier Passover Cleaning

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I just spent the whole morning reading through every single “Top 10 Ways to Make Pesach Cleaning Easier” list I could get my hands/browser on. I usually hate these lists, because they require a level of organization and advance planning that is not happening any time soon in the Weisberg home, but I also found among these lists the top 10 treasures below that will almost definitely reduce the amount of time we will all need to spend cleaning for Passover this year.

These lists clarified for me at long last, after 14 years of marriage, something that will definitely make my cleaning a whole lot easier this year. They helped me understand that I should have two cleaning very different modes:

CLEANING MODE #1, QUICK AND EASY: Cleaning Things that will not come into Contact with Food during Pesach: For example, this includes most objects/places in your bedrooms, playroom, closets, entrance, bathrooms. In these places (where you will not eat during Pesach) you are on the lookout for Chametz which is the size of a KeZayit (i.e., 30 grams, a square inch. I envision a mini pretzel.) I.e., You are NOT worrying about the grains of sand in the turned-inside-out corner of your daughter’s dress from last Rosh Hashana. You ARE looking for the forgotten cookie in the lego box.

This mode of checking should be quick and easy.

CLEANING MODE #2, THOROUGH AND VERY SERIOUS: Cleaning Things that Could/Will come into Contact with Food during Pesach: This includes places like your tables and kitchen, and any other places you will be eating/preparing food. In these places, you must find and get rid of even the teensiest crumb of chametz. These are the rooms/things which should be checked VERY VERY seriously for every last bit of chametz.

BUT, don’t worry Jewish mom! In these food-contact places as well, you have other options which will NOT require careful cleaning.
A: According to Rabbi Scheinberg shlit”a, any article or object that will be closed up and sold to a non-Jew for Passover, does NOT need to be checked or cleaned for chametz.
B: Make the chametz inedible by going over it with a sponge filled with Ajax/bleach or covering it over with strong, sticky tape. This is a good solution for the stubborn guck in the back corners of kitchen cabinets and drawers.
OK, I hope that understanding the 2 Cleaning Modes and reading these 10 tips below will help to make these weeks before Passover a bit easier for all of us Jewish moms…Pesach Kasher v’Sameach

So, here goes, my Top 10 of the Top 10 tips. Enjoy!

The Top 10 of the Top Ten Tips to make Pesach Cleaning Easier

1. Cobwebs and Curtains: “Cobwebs and curtains are not chametz. While it’s nice to have sparking walls and dust-free window coverings to beautify our homes, it is not vital to clean these areas before Pesach. The mitzvah of Pesach cleaning is to remove chametz from our homes — not dust. You don’t gain spiritual reward for staying up until midnight sweeping the corners of your ceiling. Instead, focus your efforts on the areas you know contain chametz, like the toy box, china closet, car seats and kitchen drawers. Save the spring-cleaning for another time.” Stephanie Savir, Aish.com

2. Jewish Mom, Put Down that Pin!: “We are looking for something that is more than a kezayit… (CJ Weisberg explains: a kezayit is approximately 30 grams. Rabbi Shlomo Aviner explains a kezayit is 3 centimetres or a little over an inch square. I personally imagine a mini pretzel) When you’re cleaning for Passover, all the goodies in your freezer and cabinets — bread, cakes, crackers — all of that is chametz. You have to get rid of it one way or another. But aside from that, you probably won’t find much edible chametz in your house. Bedikat chametz [checking for Chametz], therefore, is not so difficult. In the bedrooms, for example, you don’t have to sit with a pin scraping the corners!” Rabbi Yitzhak Berkowitz, Aish.com

3. Bring out the Ajax!: “Chametz that is not sold should be removed. If this isn’t possible, wet, spray, or pour a strong household cleaner or bleach on the chametz. The detergent must be such that a dog would not eat the chametz after it was treated. Another method is to cover the chametz with strong, sticky tape.” Sara Glaser, Innernet.org.il

4. Get out of that Bathtub, NOW!: “Rooms into which chametz is not normally brought need not be thoroughly cleaned, as the chance of finding a piece of chametz the size of a k’zait (3 centimetres or a little over an inch square) is negligible. Chametz which is less than this size may not be eaten of course, but it is not included in the Torah prohibition of “bal yeira’eh” [it should not be seen] (Igrot Moshe Orach Chaim, I: 145, Mishna Brura, and Chazon Ish), especially if one has sold his chametz. Usually, only rooms in which children are allowed to bring sandwiches or cookies are likely to contain such big pieces of chametz.” Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, www.RavAviner.com

5. Excellent Advice I Wish I’d Followed LAST YEAR: “One must take care not to hide large pieces of chametz before B’dikat Chametz, in case one of the pieces should get lost” (Responsa Yechaveh Da’at 5:149). Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, www.RavAviner.com (I did not follow Rabbi Aviner’s advice last year, and we lost one of the hidden pieces of chametz. It was NOT PRETTY!)

6. Leave those Books Alone! “One must only search for chametz in places in which there is a reasonable chance of finding chametz. It is nearly impossible for an inch square of chametz to be hidden inside a book! If there is a chance that the book has chametz in it, it must be thoroughly checked. However, most books do not need to be cleaned or checked. Cleaning and checking a sample [of your book collection] is sufficient. It is customary not to place books that have not been checked for chametz on the table during Pesach.” Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, www.RavAviner.com

7. Cleaning = Family Bonding:
“Involve your children in as many ways as possible. The educational aspect of Pesach doesn’t begin at the Seder table. It starts many weeks before, when we teach children to stop eating chametz in certain areas of the house, and when we let them help clean and shop. This is not so easy to do unless we’re organized and prepared for how children can slow down our progress. Buy little ones sponges to help wipe counters, cabinets, and their own bedroom dressers. Older children can sweep, vacuum and mop. The oldest ones can help cook and shop. Your family can feel like a team coming together to rid the home of chametz and prepare for the exciting Seders and holiday week.” Stephanie Savir, Aish.com

8: Sell it, forget about it! “…if the chometz is sold, then washing the pots, pans and dishes which are going to be locked away is not necessary…Any article or place which is not used on Pesach, which is closed up and sold, does not need to be checked for chametz.” Rabbi Mordechai Becher, www.Ohr.edu

9. Doing More is Doing Less: “One might be tempted to insist on doing the extra work anyway — to be machmir (stringent). However, in these stringencies lies the grave danger of causing many laxities and brushing aside many mitzvohs completely, including Torah and Rabbinic obligations which women are required to do on Passover and particularly during the Seder.

Many women like to do more “cleaning” than the bare minimum, to such an extent, that some even incorporate their general “spring cleaning” into their required pre-Passover chores. These extra exertions should not prevent them from fulfilling their obligations on Passover, and particularly on the Seder night.” Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, www.Orchos.org

10. Passover is NOT Tisha b”Av!: “Passover, like every other holiday, must be enjoyed by every member of the family, including women. This is an obligation clearly defined in the Torah as explained by our Sages. We can understand a person dreading Tisha B’Av but Pesach is to be looked forward to and anticipated with joy. Every woman should be well rested, relaxed and alert at the Seder table so that she can fulfill all the Torah and Rabbinic obligations and follow the Haggadah with the rest of the family. Clearly, the performance of her pre- Passover duties must be balanced against her Passover obligations.

Pre-Passover cleaning is required to avoid the danger of transgressing any Torah or Rabbinic prohibition of having chometz in the house on Pesach. It is evident from the responsa of the Rosh Hayeshiva shlit”a that this need not be excessive.” Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, www.Orchos.org

photo courtesy of Flickr.com user Chudo.sveta

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11 comments

  1. great article! i am going to speak to my rabbi about this bli neder and will hopefully be a lot less stressed out and have a lot less work to do. until now i have been copying my mother’s pesach cleaning methods, but knowing the halocha takes away a lot of that unneccessary stress.

  2. Ayalah Haas

    Jenny,
    This list is wonderfully compiled and assembled. I love the “it was NOT PRETTY” remark because it’s funny and it was written in the spirit of us Jewish moms learning from each other’s experiences.
    Thank you for putting this Top Ten Tips list out there for us to remember our priorities!
    Ayalah Haas

  3. thanks jenny!

    this is soo what i needed today!

    i feel inspired now to plan , chart and start the process.

    i love your emails and newsletters!
    yasher koach!

  4. Try what I did. Have a baby within a month of Pesach, so your husband takes care of it all, and you nurse and cuddle your baby!

  5. thank you so much for posting this.i am almost 9 months pregnant and have been so worried about getting al the crumbs from corners and this article puts things in perspective for me!

  6. debbie shapiro

    Thanks! Great reminder.

    A few more hints-
    they sell cheap scrapers that gets sticky gunk off in less time than it takes to wash it with Ajax!

    Toys — since kids tend to put them in their mouths, any that aren’t put away for Pesach, wash in the machine in a machine net bag.

    Some refrigerators the door comes off (our old model did) so you can wash that part in the bathtub. Much easier!

    THIS IS THE BEST: I discovered that most of my pots, pans and dishes were in use over the entire holiday, and my beautifully emptied and lined cabinets remained emptied. Now I just lock up my kitchen cabinets and have a cheap plastic cabinet made of shelves that build like LEGO, where I keep everything.

    Also, you can buy rolls of plastic tablecloths that are heavier than the thin ones. They are great for covering everything.

  7. I just found whole pieces of pasta buried in my kids’ bookcase from their “art work”. Pesach is a very stressful time, esp. when you have children in the house.

  8. B”H

    just a suggestion – when hiding the chametz before bedikas chometz – number the pieces and write downs where you hid each piece – (but don’t give your husband the list) this way – the whole house will be checked and IF you missed one – mommy knows where to find it!

  9. Thanks Chana!
    I really appreciate this list. It really puts things into perspective. We shoudl be able to enjoy Pesach and feel that we were makpid on halacha without getting confused by spring cleaning.
    Bina- don’t stress, the kezayit of chametz has to be edible. Even if you missed those pasta pieces, they are proabaly dried up and or covered with glue, not “raooye l’achilat kelev” (fit tobe consumed by a dog,halacha’s requirement for Baal Yeraeh)

  10. Resources like the one you mentioned here will be very useful to me! This is what makes the web so great. We can find so much info on things we like. thanks a lot for sharing 🙂
    Regards,
    Sy “Kitchen Improvements“Reza

  11. I just found this post, and it’s helpful to know one doesn’t have to clean cobwebs, etc., but I find it helps me prepare for Passover to be physically clean, leading to being more spiritually clean too.

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