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The Beginner's Guide to Cleaning for Passover

The Torah commands us that from the day before Passover until Passover is over we may neither own, use, eat, or derive any benefit from chometz or chometz derivatives. This applies even to items like soap, and deodorants. (Of course, I’m talking about deriving benefit. I assume you wouldn’t eat soap or deodorant. But if they contain soap, you may not use them or have them available in your house during Passover.) It is also forbidden to use utensils (pots, pans, dishes, cutlery, silverware, flatware, tablecloths, plasticware, etc.) that have been used with chometz.

Therefore, a number of preparations are necessary before Passover comes close:

  1. Every Jew is required to remove all chometz from any and all property, including one’s home, office, car, locker, storage units, pockets in clothing, etc. This includes mixtures that may contain even an infinitesimally small amount of chometz within them.

  2. All utensils used with, or that come into contact with food during the year, must be either put away or specially kashered for Passover. We will discuss each of these processes.

  3. However, certain types of items may be locked away and sold to Gentiles according to special arrangements done by local Rabbis.

Any room into which chometz has been brought must be cleaned. The kitchen, of course, will need the most arduous cleaning. Every kitchen closet and cabinet you intend to use for food or utensils during Passover must be cleaned and scrubbed. Many people have the custom to also line each shelf with paper or aluminum foil after cleaning them.

The closets and cabinets you won’t use during Passover may be filled with the non-Passover dishes and so forth, and closed up in some way to prevent you from accidentally opening those cabinets during Passover.

The refrigerator must be cleaned as well, with a household cleaner or detergent. The cracks of the rubber gaskets must be cleaned as well.

Ovens must be cleaned and kashered if you wish to use them on Passover. The process is as follows:

Regular Ovens:

        Clean the oven thoroughly with a caustic cleaner, such as Easy-Off, as best as possible. If there are still some stubborn spots, do this a second time, and if they are still there, they can be ignored.

        Do not use the oven for twenty-four hours.

        After twenty-four hours, heat the oven for a minimum of two hours, and continue until it is so hot that even after the flame is turned off it would burn a piece of tissue paper that touches it. Two hours may be sufficient for your oven, but two hours are mandatory even if it will take less time for the oven to get that hot.

Oven Racks:

        The racks of the oven should either be changed, or after this process covered in aluminum foil. If you use an oven insert during Passover,, you will not need the racks at all.

        If the inside of your oven is lined with enamel, you must either use an oven insert or cover the entire inside of the oven with heavy-duty aluminum foil, after performing the kashering process.

        The oven insert used for cooking food for Passover must cover the pots on all sides.

A Self-Cleaning Oven:

        A self-cleaning oven is the easiest. Clean it with a sponge and cleanser. Put on the self-cleaning function until the oven is absolutely clean. Do not use the oven for twenty-four hours. Then run the self-cleaning function for another four hours. Line the edges of the oven and the circumfrence of the inner side of the door with aluminum foil and tape it on. Now it’s kosher for Passover.

        The racks may be left in during the entire process, and they will be kosher for Passover.

Gas Stove Tops:

        The pan underneath the grates — forget this and get special ones for Passover. To prepare these little things for Passover you have to clean them with a caustic cleaner, not use them for twenty-four hours, and then purge them with by pouring boiling water poured over them. Every spot must be touched by the boiling water. It’s so much easier to buy new ones.

        The stove top, including the grates, must also be cleaned with a caustic cleaner. (Alternatively, you can purchase new grates, and even a new stove top cover. Kashering, however, saves money.) Do not use the stove for twenty-four hours after cleaning.

        Place heavy-duty aluminum foil over the entire stove-top. Turn on the burners for forty minutes. (Make sure the kitchen is well-ventilated.)

        After it has cooled down, take away the heavy-duty aluminum foil. Then cover the entire surface with aluminum foil, taping it down with scotch tape or something stronger. Keep it there until after Passover. Make holes for the fire to come through, of course.

        If the stove top is made of stainless steel, boiling water may be used instead of the heating method, and it need not be covered with aluminum foil.

The knobs of the stove and oven burners should be put away for Passover,
and Passover ones should be used. If this is not possible,
clean them carefully and thoroughly, and purge them in boiling water.

Stainless steel sinks:

        Clean thoroughly. Do not use for twenty-four hours. Pour boiling water over every inch of it. Many people have the custom of, after kashering it, lining it with aluminum foil or using a sink insert, but this is custom, and not absolutely necessary if you have already properly kashered the sink.

Enamel and porcelain sinks:

        These cannot be kashered. Clean it thoroughly, do not use for twenty-four hours, cover with aluminum foil or contact paper, and place a rack on the bottom on which to place dishes and pots.

Hey! Listen Up! This is important!

You know that round removable drain strainer thingie that goes into the drain in your sink? That can’t be kashered, because it has rubber on it. Get a new one. However, if you use a sink insert, they have their own drain strainers.

Make sure to clean the kitchen telephone. Even the cord is liable to touch food, so either change the cord or wash it carefully. It sounds crazy, but you’d be surprised at how much food gets stuck on kitchen telephones.

Kitchen utensils and dishware used in the home throughout the year may not be used during Passover. Special dishes and utensils for the Passover holiday are taken out of storage, rinsed and used during Passover. Throughout the year, these dishes and utensils are stored safely away from any yearly food, so as not to invalidate them for use during Passover.

During Passover, the year’s utensils should all be put away in storage, and access to them closed and locked.

In rooms outside of the kitchen, we must clean out all chometz. Remember, this is not spring cleaning. We are required only to clean out chometz that is visible, accessible within the reach of one’s hand, and is still in some way edible.

You should also read my article about Selling Chometz for Passover

Passover cleaning should be done with joy, looking forward to the upcoming Holiday. Passover is the Holiday of Jewish freedom, and you will find that the freedom is enjoyed much more after all the preparatory work.

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