Guidelines for Preparing and Cleaning for Pesach
1. The Mindset When Cleaning for Pesach
The goal of preparing for Pesach is to be able to go into Pesach feeling happy and excited that this amazing Yom Tov is here. Obviously, this can be hard and stressful, but a little planning can turn it into a smooth experience. Rav Shimshon Pincus zt”l asks, why is the Seder the first night of Yom Tov, it should rather be in the morning, after a good night’s sleep? He explains that there is no better feeling than sitting down at the Seder and saying to oneself, I worked so hard to please Hashem look how worn out I am! This is the thought that we need to keep in our minds throughout our preparations, we are doing this to please Hashem.
When people used to live in one room apartments it was feasible to scrub the walls in order to remove every speck of chametz, so that not even a משהו was left. However, nowadays, we have larger apartments or even houses and many appliances. To start scrubbing everything down is just going to tire ourselves out, causing us not to enjoy the Seder and ultimately it will impact our entire Pesach.
2. The Focus of the Cleaning
Besides the prohibition of eating or benefiting from the chametz on Pesach, it is also assur to own chametz. This issur only applies to pieces of chametz the size of a k’zayis (approximately the size of a small match box) and this must be disposed of. Although chametz smaller than a k’zayis, is not included in the issur of owning chametz on Pesach, there is a חשש that one may come to eat this chametz by mistake (the issur of eating chametz includes even eating a משהו) therefore this too needs to be gotten rid of. For example, even one cheerio, a small piece of a cookie or pretzel needs to be thrown out before Yom Tov. However, since the isuur on less than a k’zayis is only a suspicion of mistakenly coming to eat the chametz, this only applies to chametz that will be eaten. Any chametz that will not be eaten because it is dirty should not be a focus in the cleaning for Pesach. Crumbs are not חשוב and therefore they are automatically battel, and there is no need to search for them or to focus on them while cleaning.
Getting rid of the chametz that is prohibited to have around over Pesach should be the focus of the cleaning. Therefore, only places that chametz might have been brought into and will be used on Pesach must be cleaned. (As a suggestion, if a woman decides to do spring cleaning and wants to involve her husband, do not call this Pesach cleaning, rather refer to it as spring cleaning.)
When cleaning, check, using light that there is no chametz in that area. The bedikah the night before Pesach should be only after all the cleaning was finished. The purpose of this bedikah is to ensure that all areas were cleaned and any chametz that mistakenly left out be put away.
3. Guidelines for General Areas of the House
Based on these general halachos the following is a concise guideline of how to clean every area in the house:
1. Any place where chametz may be stuck to it, like chairs, tables, or a couch; take a wet cloth with any cleaning agent (any soap is fine, there is no need for bleach) and wipe them down. This will make whatever may be stuck to them not edible and then we are not worried about someone coming to eat it by mistake. It is unnecessary to take these things apart.
2. There is no need to clean seforim and books, since no one is eating the crumbs that are left in them. However, it is suggested to check any sefer or book that one plans to bring to the table. Additionally, one can put a cover on the table and place the seforim on it, so that no crumbs end up in the food. Bentchers should be put away for Pesach.
3. As long as clothing was washed with detergent, no checking of the clothing is required. A coat pocket or children’s coat that has not been washed (assuming that it is likely that chametz has been put there throughout the year) should be checked for chametz before Pesach.
4. The kitchen and dining room table should be washed well with soap. The table should then be covered with any type of cover (even a plastic table cloth). Put the tablecloth directly on top of this cover (there is no need to kasher tables).
5. Lower shelves of clothing closets that can be reached by children holding food should be emptied and washed down once. The higher shelves do not need cleaning.
4. The Kitchen
The kitchen is the most important room to clean in the house. We are extra concerned that there should not be any chometz around, since it is the place where the Pesach food will be prepared (and if even a slight amount of chametz is mistakenly eaten, we have transgressed the issur of eating chometz on Pesach).
1. Towels, oven mitts and tablecloths that were used with chametz should be washed with detergent and then may be used for Pesach.
2. Empty the pantry shelves and clean them well (there is no need to cover them).
3. Counter tops should be kashered by cleaning them well and when dry pouring boiling water on it. Or they may be covered. It is not necessary to do both.
4. Clean the back splash well. If it drips down from there it should be covered.
5. Food is stored in the refrigerator and freezer which sometimes spills and leaves crumbs. They should be cleaned very well, especially if shelves are glass. It is not necessary to cover the shelves unless it was hard to clean well.
6. One should use a sink insert with a Porcelain or enamel sink. A stainless-steel sink may be kashered. The way to kasher a sink is as follows: The sink should not be used with hot water and hot food should not be placed in the sink for 24 hours before kashering. After this 24-hour period, boil water. While it is bubbling, pour onto the sink. Most likely it will take 2 or 3 times to get all parts of the sink. Make sure to dry in between each time that you pour the boiling water.
7. There is no need to cover the faucet, just turn on the hot water from the faucet and pour hot water on it while it is running.
8. Clean the floor of the stove top well and cover with thick aluminum foil (a metal stovetop may be kashered and then there would be no need to cover with aluminum foil). The burners and grates may be kashered with a blech, for the fire will probably burn off anything stuck to them. This is done as follows: Clean them beforehand, then turn on 3 flames and cover with the blech. Leave on for 10 minutes. The blech will probably get black and become very hot so be careful turning off the fire. Many people like to buy new grates for Pesach.
9. If the oven has self clean use the self clean mode to kasher the oven (the grates and burners from the stove top can be put in there as well in order to kasher them). In regards to non-self-cleaning ovens, there is discussion among the Poskim if they may be kashered. Many Poskim suggest that one buy a convection oven (or the likes) instead of kashering the regular oven 1. However, some Poskim hold that there is a way to kasher this type of oven: clean the oven well (whatever is burnt to the oven is burnt, and there is no need to worry about it) then turn the oven on to the highest temperature for half an hour. The racks in the oven must be kashered by ליבון with a torch. It may be most practical to just buy new ones.
10. Clean hotplates well and cover with thick foil.
11. We do not kasher microwaves for Pesach.
כן החמיר הגר"מ פיינשטיין זצ"ל.1
5. Objects around the house
1. There is no need to kasher rings, however if possible don’t wear them a day before Pesach (or at lease avoid contact with hot chametz).
2. Clean the computer well using spray.
3. Being that children put toys in their mouths they should be washed and cleaned. Or just buy new ones for Pesach.
4. A Highchair tray should be washed well, making sure to clean every spot.
5. If possible it is better to get new bottles and sippy cups since it goes into the baby’s mouth (however, as long as they were used with cold liquids only it is not necessary to get new ones).
6. It is also best to buy a new pacifier if possible, though kashering is also an option.
6. Ha’galas Keilim
During the year, it is not so common to kasher utensils. However, it is more widespread to kasher keilim for Pesach. It is better to buy new utensils, but each person should only do what they can afford.
1. The way to do Ha’galas Keilim is as follows: It is best to not use the keilim for 24 hours before koshering. Clean the utensils well. Then, fill a pot of water and place it on the fire. When the water is bubbling (boiling) put the utensil into the water. The minhag is to then rinse the keilim with cold water. When kashering several keilim (one after another) make sure that the water is still boiling between each keili. It is permissible to dip half of the utensil in the boiling water, and then the other half (only by טבילת כלים must the whole piece be submerged at once).
2. Ha’galas Keilim is the way to kasher metal utensils. Keilim made from glass or plastic cannot be kashered for Pesach 2. Neither can china dishes. Ashkenazim generally do not kasher glass dishes 3.
3. Anything that was used on the Shabbos table (like a silver kiddush cup or wine decanter made of metal) even though it was only used with cold things (and therefore it should be enough just to wash it off) the minhag nonetheless is to kasher it through Ha’galas Keilim. This Ha’galas Keilim can be done at home.
4. Things that were on the Shabbos table but are not eaten from (i.e. candlestick trays, vases, etc.) do not require any kashering. However, they should be cleaned before using on Pesach.
5. Some utensils require a more stringent way of kashering called ליבון which is kashering with an actual fire. The general rule is that utensils that were used with fire must be kashered with fire (i.e. a grill). If one wants to kasher a frying pan, it is good to find someplace that has a blowtorch available.
כן היא שיטת הגר"מ פיינשטיין זצ"ל .2
במקום שיש צורך, יש לשאול שאילת רב .3.
7. Medicines & Cosmetics
1. Medicines in the form of pills and capsules to not present any issue of chometz on Pesach (even though there are many lists compiled on the matter).
2. Syrups, especially those for children with a sweet taste, should have a hechsher for Pesach. Please note, that sometimes it is just an issue of kitniyos and one can be lenient, a Rav should be consulted.
3. Ointments and creams are bitter tasting and therefore not an issue.
4. Body soaps and shampoos do not require a special hechsher for Pesach.
5. It is preferable to buy toothpaste, mouthwash, and other such items that go into the mouth that have a hechsher for Pesach.
6. There is no need for makeup or perfume to have a hechser for Pesach. A new lipstick should be used for Pesach.
Remember, everything only needs to be cleaned one time. Cleaning tends to be somewhat of a טירחא and can cost a lot of money. However, great reward comes along with it, even in this world. The seforim bring down that just like we scrubbed and cleaned for Pesach, Hashem will scrub and clean us from any aveiros that are stuck to us.
Wishing everyone a healthy Chag Kosher V'Sameach!