Cleaning for Pesach

The Jewish Internet with Mark Mietkiewicz, Special To The Dayton Jewish Observer

Mark Mietkiewicz
Mark Mietkiewicz

Sure, it’s known as the holiday of national liberation. Just don’t try to convince anyone who’s been spending countless hours cleaning for Passover. But just remember you’re not alone: there are plenty of people who want to share their tips, and stories of toil and joy.

You can’t get much more user-friendly than a web page with the title, How to do your Pesach Cleaning Happily in Less than One Day.

In it, Rabbi Shlomo Aviner passes along the basics: how to deal with children’s clothing, medicines and toiletries, high chairs, cars, and of course, the kitchen.

He concludes, “In light of what is written above, it should take about an hour to clean the house, another hour for the dining room, and two-three hours to kasher the kitchen. In short, about one day (”

On the other hand, there’s Stephanie Savir. I’m sure she means well. She really does. But if you look at her site and haven’t started your own cleaning, perhaps you should just file away Stephanie’s advice for next year.

Her Ten Tips for Reducing Pesach Pressure includes advice for what to do “7 weeks before Passover: Review and copy recipes; Buy paper goods and cleaning supplies.” At 6 weeks: “Buy Yom Tov outfits for family; Clean bedrooms.” At 5 weeks: “Clean basement and cars” and so on (

Before he gets into the nitty and the gritty, Rabbi Moshe Finkelstein explains why modern Passover causes cleaning angst.

In the past, wealthy people who lived in large homes often had many servants to do their cleaning. Poor people who could not afford servants lived in small homes with one or two rooms.

“Today, we seem to be caught in a trap.” Our homes are larger. Furniture, utensils and clothing are more plentiful. But we don’t have the servants to do the cleaning. So the weeks before the holiday become filled with cleaning (”

Whether or not you enjoy cleaning, do take care with those industrial strength cleansers. Yona Amitai, a senior toxicologist at Hadassah-University Hospital in Jerusalem warns that “the number of accidental poisonings of children from cleaning fluid triples during the two or three weeks before Passover.”

Amitai also advises parents to be extra cautious when cleaning out medicine cabinets to ensure drugs don’t end up in the hands of children (

The late Jerusalem Post humorist Sam Orbaum set his sights on the annual cleaning ritual, and his wife’s rush to chuck out the non-kosher for Passover food including a jar of date spread.

“Whoa there. That’s the one commandment I do observe religiously: Thou shalt not throw away perfectly good food. We have an understanding in my home: the kids get first dibs, what they leave over we offer the cat, what the cat doesn’t want is my supper.”

He continues, “So that’s why, the other night, we all sat down to a delicious meal of honeyed date spread patties with marshmallow topping (left over from Lag Ba’Omer) on a bed of lemon wafers (Purim). When I asked the kids what they’d like for dessert, they begged for broccoli (”

I’m not quite sure how they conducted their survey but according to the Brandman Research Institute, 43 million man-hours are spent in Israel in cleaning preparations for Passover. Curious use of the term “man-hours” since the study found that 29 million cleaning hours are done by women and 11 million hours by men. People paid to clean account for the remainder (

If you’re feeling overwhelmed cleaning for your army, be thankful you don’t have a real one to worry about like the Israel Defense Forces.

Just imagine the logistics of locking away a sea of cutting boards, knives, deep fryers, strainers and frying pans before hauling out 110 tons of matzah meal and 25,000 liters of grape juice (

Finally, in the going overboard department, here are some homeowners who have way too much time — and aluminum foil — on their hands.

In their tongue-in-cheek photo essay, they have enveloped everything in tin foil that may have ever had contact with chametz including their couch and corner tables.

But why stop there when you can also foil over your television, lamps, dresser and for good measure, a teddy bear, toothpaste and toilet, too (

Well, I guess that’s a wrap.

Have a chag kasher v’samayach — a kosher and happy holiday.

Mark Mietkiewicz may be reached at, when he isn’t cleaning.

To read the complete April 2014 Dayton Jewish Observer, click here.

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