Cleaning a Spill on Shabbat

Updated: Feb 23

The Daily Halacha Moment - Cleaning a Spill on Shabbat🥤


״כל השונה הלכות בכל יום - מובטח לו שהוא בן העולם הבא״ (נידה עג ע״א, מגילה כח:)


“Anyone who studies Halachot every day is guaranteed that he is destined for the world-to-come” (Megilla 28b, Niddah 73a)


Question:

May one clean a spill with a garment on Shabbat?


Answer:

One may not clean up a spill of water with a garment that one is generally careful to wash if one were to clean with it during the week. [1]

If one wants to clean a spill of water then one should use a disposable napkin or paper towel to clean it up. Similarly, one may also use a rag that is not cleaned regularly. [2] If none of the above is available to clean the spill, then one may use a towel or other garment, but one should step in the water first in order to make it dirty before cleaning the water. [3] In all cases, one should wipe the spill lightly and be careful not to press or squeeze the cloth when wiping. [4]


Sources:

[1]. Shulchan Aruch 302:11; Mishnah Berurah 302:47, 302:57, 320:42. This is a rabbinical restriction for fear that one is likely to forget himself and come to wring and squeeze the wet garment out in order to help it dry more quickly. This restriction applies to wetting clothing and linens with a clear liquid.

[2]. Mishnah Berurah 302:60. However, the Yalkut Yosef, Shabbat, vol. 2, p. 87 points out that if there is dirt stuck to the floor or table that the liquid spilled on then one should not use the wet napkin or rag to clean it, since one will want the water that is on it to help one clean the dirt.

[3]. See Mishnah Berurah 302:55; Halichot Shabbat, Malka, vol. 1, p. 91. However, the Mishnah Berurah 302:47 points out that if there is a lot of water, and generally one would ring out a cloth that soaks up so much water during the week, then one should not use such a rag to soak up the water, or one should use enough rags that one will not come to squeeze them out after use.

[4]. Mishnah Berurah 302:59. See also in Ohr LeTzion 2:24:7 who adds that one can clean the spill with a thick cloth that can soak up all of the water and still not get so wet that the water will be pressed back out when applying pressure, but one should be careful when using a thin cloth, such as a napkin.


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