How to clean properly for Pesach without making yourself insane.
(Thanks to Tuvia Poe for typing up the document!)
Cleaning for Pesach
Pesach – Z'man Cherusainu – is quickly approaching. We are all anxiously and impatiently awaiting its arrival. After all – the Seder nights in all their glory. The entire family – father, mother and children – sitting around the lavishly laden table – discussing in depth the very foundation of our emunah – יציאת מצרים. Our anticipation grows stronger with every passing day. Its unbearable – we can no longer wait!!! Or can we?? I must sadly admit that I've heard people say, “Pesach is unbearable”, “It's too hard”, “Not worth the work”. If my previous description of the Seder doesn't seem to match yours – perhaps you're doing something wrong. I must elaborate a bit and I will occasionally quote and draw from the writings of HaRav HaGaon Rav Chaim Pinchaos Scheinberg שליט''א. Obviously, the primary problem is the pre-Pesach cleaning, cleaning and more cleaning. Unfortunately, the average housewife does 75% more cleaning than is required according to the halacha. Spring cleaning should be done after Pesach.
The following items need not be washed for Pesach; Windows, walls, carpets,ceilings, doors and doorknobs. Linens, bedspreads, curtain, towels, fresh dish towels. For those who sell their chometz – all pots, pans, dishes, flatware, appliances (e.g. mixer, grinder, toaster, microwave etc.) and toys which are being stored away for Pesach.
The closet / room where chometz and / or chometz utensils are being locked up does not need to be cleaned for Pesach. Rather, merely take a quick assessment of the approximate amount of chometz present there so that is may be properly listed among items being sold as chometz.
Before beginning specific halachos regarding the preparation of the home and kitchen for Pesach, I wish to make it clear that I have no intention of abolishing Minhagim which have been passed down be Klal Yisroel from generation to generation. After all, the Shulchan Aruch and later poskim (שער הציון סי' תמב ס''ק נב) commend Chumros (stringencies) for Pesach because, ישראל קדושים הם. Nevertheless, some practices adopted by women today are not an actual continuation of those minhagim. Furthermore, one is not permitted to perform stringencies when they infringe upon and undermine basic Torah obligations. For example, as stated above, women are obligated in all the mitzvos of the Seder as men are. They also have the mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov –enjoying the Chag. How can these be accomplished when they are totally washed out, exhausted and too tense to even maintain a conversation!! We must maintain our priorities!
Note: The rationale for some of the halachos stated below is based on the following premise. The obligation to search for and destroy Chometz applies to Chometz which is the size of one complete k'zayis (i.e. approximately the volume of one ounce. A standard whiskey cup holds one ounce) or more. According o some opinions even less than a k'zayis is problematic unless it is rendered unfit for human consumption. In consideration of that opinion, I have recommended, not required, (where applicable) to apply an ammonia/water solution to the chometz thus rendering it inedible. Do not confuse this halacha with the more stringent issur of consuming chometz.
Clothing: Pockets of adult clothing (i.e. specifically those which during the year mat have occasionally contained chometz) and all children's clothing which will be worn on Pesach should be emptied of food and crumbs. Alternatively, if one resolves not to put any food in pockets during Pesach – follow the rules in the following sentence regarding other clothing. Pockets of other clothing (not to be worn on Pesach) need only be frisked for either edible crumbs of chometz (not little crumbs mixed with lint and dust) or a “considerable amount” of chometz.Note: a “considerable amount” equals a k'ziyas. Should one decide on Pesach to wear clothing whose pockets were not thoroughly cleaned – food may not be put into those pockets.Note: Clothing which will not be worn on Pesach and will be in a sealed closet and sold with the chometz – need not be checked at all.
Toys: a) Only those toys which may contain a ”considerable amount” of chometz must be cleaned of same. b) Toys which don't usually contain a ”considerable amount” of chometz but rather have small particles of slightly dirty chometz stuck to them, may be used as is on Pesach. c) in the rare case that small particles of chometz appear to be in edible condition – although according to the view of most Poskim, the toys may be used as is – care must be taken not to place those toys on areas where food is placed (e.g. tables, countertops, etc). Furthermore, as stated above, some poskim rule that in this case the chometz adhering to the toys should be rendered inedible. This may be accomplished in the following manner; 1)waterproof toys may be soaked (in a tub) in ammonia solution for a short time and then rinsed. By doing so, any chometz which may have been stuck to the toys becomes inedible and is no longer considered chometz. The toys may be dried and used as is. 2) Toys which can not be immersed in water can either be wiped with a sponge moistened with the ammonia solutuion as above or the chometz must be removed. Note: Any toys not being used on Pesach need not be checked but rather they may be sold with the chometz.
Seforim/Books: Since the only crumbs that might be present in seforim or books are less than a k'zayis, these items do not have to be cleaned for Pesach. However, care must be taken not to place them on areas where food is placed (e.g. tables, countertops, etc). Nevertheless, to avoid any problems, seforim/books which commonly have crumbs in them (e.g. Bentchers, etc.) should be cleaned or sealed away with the Chometz.
Preparing the Kitchen
Refrigerator/Freezer: should be washed with ammonia / water solution and may then be used without lining the shelves with paper etc.
Range Top: Clean thoroughly then light flames for ten minutes. Cover the area between the burners with aluminum foil. Note: the drip rings/pans need only be cleaned, not kashered.
Oven – self-cleaning: set the self clean at the highest setting for one hour.
Oven – non self-cleaning: apply acid solution (e.g. EasyOff), rinse and then light for one hours at the highest seting.
Microwave: Clean thoroughly (especially around fan area) then don't use for twenty four hours. Boil water in the microwave for several minutes so that it will fill with vapor. Since the validity ofkashering plastic for Pesach is questionable, use only when Pesach food is covered e.g in a plastic bag.
Sink: Clean thoroughly then don't use with very hot water (i.e. too hot to touch with one's bare hand) for twenty four hours and then perform Iruy (i.e. pour boiling water) on entire surface including the spout.
Counter tops: Clean thoroughly with ammonia solution then either cover with aluminum foil etc. or perform Iruy and use as is. Hot Pesach food should not be placed directly (i.e. without a dish or container) on counter.
Pantry and cabinets: Clean thoroughly with ammonia solution and then use as is (i.e. without lining with paper etc).
Food and Non food Products
In order to understand the following halachos, a brief introduction is necessary: Torah – prohibited foods (e.g. non-slaughtered meat/fowl, pork etc.) which have become unfit for human consumption, are no longer prohibited Min HaTorah. Nevertheless, Mi'dRabbonon, one is forbidden to intentionally ingest these unfit foods. The reason for this issur is termed ‘אחשבי. By ingesting the unfit food one has made a statement that for him that food is indeed edible. Therefore, even if the food is unfit for animal (canine) consumption it is Rabbinically prohibited.
Chometz, however, is somewhat unique in that it is prohibited to be eaten even if unfit for human consumption providing that is is at least fit for animal (canine) consumption. Being that the Torah prohibited leaven even though it is technically inedible, so too, moldy bread can also be used to ferment dough and is thus also prohibited. However, mixtures containing chometz which can no longer be used as a leavening agent fall back into the category of all Issuurim and thus when unfit for human consumption they are no longer prohibited. Nevertheless, consuming them is Rabbinically prohibited because of ‘אחשבי.
There are three prohibitions relating to chometz; 1) Consumption, 2) Deriving benefit (e.g. feeding pets Chometz), 3) Ownership. Chometz which is inedible and unable to be used to sour dough may be owned and even used for any use providing that it is not ingested. Thus, the following products may be used on Pesach without any Kosher for Pesach label;
All cosmetics (e.g creams, ointments, powders, nail polish, lipstick, blush, eyeshadow, deodorants, hair spray, shampoos, perfumes, etc) Note: When not using a new lipstick, check the old one for crumbs.
All cleaning agents (e.g. soaps – solid /liquid, dish washing and laundry detergent, waxes and polishes, etc.)
All paper goods, plastic ware, aluminum foil, etc.
Once again I wish to reiterate that my intention is not to dissuade those wishing to follow more stringent opinions form doing so. Rather, I have presented the halachos according to the opinions of those Poskim whom I feel one may follow להלכה ולמעשה.