I know someone who has great difficulty observing Shabbos correctly, because she is very accustomed to using a sponge to clean dishes, and a sopping wet rag to clean kitchen surfaces (which are constantly getting very dirty due to serving several children food throughout the day). Leaving the sink full of dishes, or leaving kitchen surfaces dirty, are not acceptable to her because it is disgusting. Using a Shabbos scrubber with cold water doesn't wash dishes well enough for her (it doesn't get off fat or oil, for one thing). Just placing everything in the dishwasher is not a solution, because they need to be cleaned somewhat first for the dishwasher to be effective (requiring the sponge), and because many of her kitchen items can't go in the dishwasher.

My question is: How, as a practical matter, do people who are fully Shabbos-observant deal with cleaning kitchen surfaces or washing dishes on Shabbos without violating prohibitions such as squeezing and using the hot water faucet? Given the information above, how would you advise the person to transition to observing Shabbos while keeping the kitchen as clean as she likes?

  • We typically stick everything in the dishwasher and deal with it appropriately after Shabbos, but that doesn’t address the counters. – DonielF Dec 31 '17 at 22:57
  • Is this off-topic, as your friend should see her local Orthodox Rabbi? – DonielF Dec 31 '17 at 23:00
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    @Kordovero A Shabbos sponge should be able to take fat and oil off of dishes, even with cold water, if (liquid) soap is used. The chemical reaction that removes grease is going to take place regardless of the temperature of the water. However, generally one can only do this in preparation for further Shabbos use of the dishes. ... You can clean hard surfaces on Shabbos as long as you are not causing any wringing from the cloth, and are not doing so davka as a preparation for after Shabbos (but she should double-check with her own rov on this). + – SAH Jan 1 '18 at 0:23
  • @kordovero She might check with her rov on Shabbos rulings for an istnis. If she can't get any leniencies, I suggest she cover up the messes with decorative blankets or the like and try to forget about them until after Shabbos -- or use disposables. – SAH Jan 1 '18 at 0:24
  • @Kordovero This seems a personal question, could you reword it to encourage more specific answers regarding work, heating water, squeezing out water, scraping etc. on Shabbat using sources explaining why. Otherwise it seems a rab should be giving the advice to this person. – gamliela Jan 1 '18 at 23:22

I would agree that Shabbat clean-up can pose some challenges, and it's not just because of various melachot. When you have a lot of company, the hosts really don't want to spend hours cleaning in the kitchen.

The easiest solution - something I have been doing for numerous years - is to cook everything you can in disposable aluminum tins and use disposable paperware / plasticware and disposable tablecloths. For those who want things to look "fancy", you can find fancy colorful paperware and plastic spoons, knives, forks that look almost like fancy silverware. Granted, not everything can be cooked in disposable tins, but, they can be warmed in them (including soup, if you warm it before Shabbat starts.)

Once you're done with your meal, roll up everything in the tablecloth and it goes in the trash. Your left-over food is in the tins for the day meals. The point is, there are no dishes or pans to wash.

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    Not so green though. :/ But a good solution nonetheless if dirty dishes on Shabbos bother you that much. – ezra Dec 31 '17 at 22:55
  • @ezra We rewash and reuse most aluminum pans. And paper is extremely "green". – DanF Dec 31 '17 at 22:58
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    Be careful of rewashing what is intended to be disposable. I've heard it can be dangerous, as certain chemicals in the ware can come out with washing. – ezra Dec 31 '17 at 23:00
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    The problem, @DanF, is the soup (and/or cholent) pot. – SAH Jan 1 '18 at 0:27
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    @gamliela " The day is over so quickly". Really, really debatable, my friend. I think OP is really bothered having dirty stuff lying around for even an hour. During the summer in NYC, lunch is at around 1P and Shabbat ends about 9:30. In my shul, the left-over chulent pot has been sitting on the counter for 1/4 of the day, and not only does it look like ugly sticky fat blobs (I'm being nice, here - it looks worse!) but it smells horrid. (You'd think they'd at least fridge the stuff.) But, IMO, chulent morphs into "road cement" after an hour or so. It ain't pretty. – DanF Jan 1 '18 at 23:11

I clean kitchen counters with a spray (like Fantastic or Simple Green) and a pre-cut paper towel. This is effective and permitted as long as the paper towel does not become wet enough to get squeezed.

Dishes CAN be washed effectively in cold water using a high-quality dish soap like Dawn Platinum. There are different types of Shabbos sponges, some are more effective than others. This one, imported from Israel, is one of the best. Experiment to find the one that works best for you.

I know someone who fills a dish basin with hot water before Shabbos. She then covers it with aluminum foil. After the Friday night meal, she washes the dishes using the still-warm water. Alternatively, she soaks them in the hot soapy water.

(Disclaimer: I am not being paid to advertise for any specific products. For this specific question I felt the information would be helpful.)


A solution might be to begin to use cold water (turning off the hot water heater helps if one has a tendency to forget)and with a proper scraper, or hands, remove food from dishes then place the dishes in the dishwasher to be turned on after shabbat. Counters can be dripped with cold water, provided the water isn't picked up by anything absorbant, just move the water off into a plastic bowl. Since this is, as you say, making a beginning to keeping shabbat, maybe a good time to CYLOR.

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    Quote from the OP: “Using...cold water doesn’t wash dishes well enough for her...” -1 as this doesn’t address the question as presented. – DonielF Dec 31 '17 at 22:59
  • Also you can't use a scraper as that would be cleaning which is work. – user16446 Dec 31 '17 at 23:53
  • @user7783780 I did say a proper scraper, as mentioned by op, whats called 'shabos scrubber, basically it scrapes foods off, but is not absorbant and is just pulling things around. or are you saying a squejie is not proper for cleaning smooth surfaces on shabbot, like plates or cabinet tops? – gamliela Jan 1 '18 at 12:06
  • @DonielF op placed the main intention of the question under the first paragraph, which I answred. Also, cold water does clean surfaces well enough to be placed in dishwasher for washing after Shabbat. – gamliela Jan 1 '18 at 12:26
  • @gamliela OP explicitly excluded this as an answer. – DonielF Jan 1 '18 at 18:46

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