The Top 10 Tips for Easier Passover Cleaning

The Top 10 Tips for Easier Passover Cleaning

The sun falls beyond the horizon on Purim, and my heart falls alongside it.

The month of costumes and kreplach and candy are behind me. And the month of ajax and windex and clorox is upon me. Oy.

This morning, though, I chose to devote myself to reading instead of cleaning. I decided to read every single “Top 10 Ways to Make Pesach Cleaning Easier” list I could get my hands/browser on. Below are my Top 10, Top 10 favorite tips. Enjoy, Jewish mom! Hope these help to make Passover cleaning easier for you (and for me) this year…

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

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10 comments

  1. Excellent list! In our house, the person who hides the chametz makes a list of where they hid them, to prevent unfortunate incidents…

    1 extra point – you don’t need to clean shelves etc that are higher up than a child who might shove a pretzel there can reach (but don’t forget they can stand on chairs 🙂 ) I’m assuming that most adults don’t leave the remains of their snack on a bookcase.

  2. In the spirit of a different comment on your “72 days…” post, all I can say is, I wish I’d known this years ago. So glad I know them now!

    Though I do think it’s not so terrible to toss spring cleaning into the mix within reason. (Windows in Israel should definitely be saved for after Pesach, as there are always sharavim and the blowing dirt/sand that accompany them before the chag.)

    The tips about remembering to enjoy the chag are so vital. As the Lubavitcher Rebbe once said, “Dust is not chametz and children are not the korban Pesach.”

  3. HARLEAN ENIS

    THAN K YOU. THIS YEAR PESACH WILL BE EASIER.

  4. Gila, what is the source for the Lubavitcher Rebbe saying that? I did hear the comment but not in his name. I would love to know the source. Thank you.

    Now my own two cents (how can I resist?): It’s all about timing. In years that I get an early start on Pesach cleaning, I combine spring cleaning with Pesach cleaning. But then there are years that things happen, hopefully good things, and we have to travel or have guests or take on other extra responsibilities of different sorts in the weeks leading up to Purim. In those years, I just do Pesach cleaning – not spring cleaning.

    Don’t tell anyone but if you skip some hard things (spring cleaning type of things) this year nobody will know or care. And I’ll applaud you.

    I am a major anti-clutter person and I love cleanliness and empty spaces and organization. But the main thing is to avoid exhaustion and tension in the home. That is the main thing. That is filling our children’s needs.

  5. Thank you. I also wish I had had this list years ago. Now it is saved to my favorites.

  6. Anonymous

    Regarding tip number two, while it is correct that one need not check for pieces smaller than a k’zayis, you should keep in mind that which Rabbeinu Asher (Rosh) said regarding the extent of cleaning. He said as follows: Yisrael are holy and they drag out and destroy every bit of chometz to be found even the smallest amount, even if it were stuck to the walls of the house.
    see http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=46218&st=&pgnum=59

  7. Hello!

    My name is Rivka, I work for Home Clean Home, a professional passover cleaning company based in New York. The founder of the company, Nicole Levine, is an Israeli-born single mother of 3 who knows the cleaning Halachot for Pesach and can assure you that your home will be Chametz free when the team is done. Feel free to call us at 718-627-5781 or visit our website at http://www.hchinc.net

  8. anonymos

    In step 2 it says that your looking for a kezayit. This is false. Chametz on pesach is prohibited in the smallest amount so long as you don’t need the aid of a magnifiying glass or microscope to see it.

    • JewishMom

      According to my rav and most poskim, this is true in parts of the house where you will be eating. In outer parts of the house, for example in the bedrooms, where you won’t be eating, you only need to search for something the size of a kezayit (like a mini pretzel)

    • Right, it is prohibited to CONSUME even the smallest amount.

      But as far as chometz existing in your home, the prohibition of “bal yera’eh ubal yematzeh” (that chometz should not be seen or found) refers to pieces large enough to warrant a person accidentally eating, i.e. a kezayis or larger.

      Any smaller crumbs are botul, you consider them ownerless and thus you don’t OWN any chometz.

      We are careful to clean very well in areas where we eat, since even a minute particle of chometz falling into your food is prohibited on Pesach.

      With that being said, traditionally women have taken upon themselves to clean more than necessary, and this has positive spiritual ramifications. But only if it is done with joy and does not cause negative side effects! In such a case, far better to do the minimum happily.

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