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Is it allowed to clean up spills from (wood or marble) floors on Shabbat? Not polishing it, but using a paper or bath towel to wipe up he liquid. No water or soap would be intentionally used or wrung either.

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  • @KirkBellard do you have two IDs? Question is from Loving Hillel but your comment says "I am ..." - be careful that having two IDs can land you in hot water if you start to "upvote yourself"
    – mbloch
    Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 2:57
  • Hillel’s for making questions before 45 minutes. Nothing about upvoting. Is allowed? @mbloch
    – Kirk
    Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 3:25
  • @KirkBellard discouraged but not forbidden apparently, meta.stackexchange.com/a/35607/312691 - one downside is it will make it harder for you to find your own questions/answers over time. I often remember I wrote something but not the specifics. Searching under my own ID makes it easier to find
    – mbloch
    Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 3:29
  • @KirkBellard weird you have this 45 min limit, according to meta.stackexchange.com/q/164899/312691 it should not apply to a user with your number of points
    – mbloch
    Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 3:32

1 Answer 1

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Cleaning a spill on Shabbos involves the following two actions (see here):

  1. Wetting the cloth with the spill and
  2. Moving around the soaked cloth.

Wetting a cloth on Shabbos touches upon a possible laundering and dyeing prohibition. Moving a soaked cloth around touches upon a possible squeezing prohibition.

According tot that article, cleaning spills with paper or napkins, which are designed to absorb the liquid, is allowed. However, the only issue here that needs attention is that the cloth is not being rubbed around the spill in any way. It is also not allowed to squeeze it out. So, pressing down the cloth on the floor is also not allowed, since this is also considered "squeezing out the liquid"

Also, the halacha is that one may not use a sponge without a handle. Why not? Because while going over the spill with the sponge, due to the (unintentional) applied pressure, some liquid may be squeezed out.

Refer to Orach Chaim 320:17

One may not wipe with a sponge lest one squeezes it, unless the sponge sports a handle.

Placing a napkin on something that was spilled, like water, or coca cola, is allowed, since it was originaly designed to absorb the liquid, just make sure you aren't rubbing it into the liquid or moving it around.

See also the Q&A in that article:

Practical Summary of how to clean a spill using a cloth napkin/tissue?

One may place any cloth designated for cleaning spills on any spill. One may not however move it around the spill in a way that will cause squeezing. One may not place a cloth which is not designated for cleaning spills onto clear/white liquids, or onto dense colored liquids that can dye. One may place it on light colored liquids. If there is a dry area left on the cloth it is permitted to be lifted and moved from that area.

Q&A

May one clean a spill using napkins or tissues?

It is permitted to place the tissue or napkin onto the spill. However one may not rub the napkin or tissue around the spill. However some Poskim allow doing so. Practically one is not to be lenient.

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