Towel & Sponge on Shabbat

Updated: Feb 23

The Daily Halacha Moment - Towel & Sponge 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 cup with a towel on Shabbat?

May one use a sponge on Shabbat?


Answer:

One should not clean a cup with a towel on Shabbat, since the cup is elongated and one will end up squeezing the towel when attempting to dry the bottom of the cup. However, if one uses a dish-towel, which is only used for this purpose, and one does not care if the water is squeezed out, nor does one care if the towel gets dirty, then one may use it on Shabbat. [1]

One may not clean dishes on Shabbat with a sponge.[2] However, a “sponge” or brush that is made out of plastic that does not retain water known as the "Shabbat sponge" may be used on Shabbat to clean dishes.[3] It's good to note, that one needs to be careful when washing dishes that one shouldn't do Hachana (preparing) on Shabbat for the weekday.

Similarly, one may use a toothbrush on Shabbat.[See footnote 4]

Ashkenazim have the custom to refrain from using a toothbrush on Shabbat. In a future Halacha Moment we will B'ezrat Hashem discuss the permitted way for one to brush one's teeth on Shabbat.


Sources:

[1]. Shulchan Aruch 302:12; Mishnah Berurah 302:59; Menuchat Ahavah, vol. 2, 12:10. The Yalkut Yosef, Shabbat, vol. 2, p. 90, states that if the cup is very long, and one has to force the towel into the cup, it is preferable that one should be stringent. See also in Ohr LeTzion, vol. 2, 24:7 who states that if the towel is thick then one can be lenient, but if it is thin and easily squeezed then one should be stringent.

[2]. Shulchan Aruch 320:17; Minchat Yitzchak 3:49; Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchatah 15:7; Shevet HaLevi 5:45.

[3]. Maaseh HaShabbat, vol. 1, p. 182. Similarly, the Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchatah 12:15 states that one can clean a baby bottle with the brush that is made for it. This is also the case with a toilet brush, since the bristles are spread apart and do not retain any water. See also in Be’er Moshe, vol. 1, 43:7; Mishneh Halachot 11:284.

[4]. See Yabia Omer, vol. 4, O.C. 27:2 and 30:19; vol. 9, 108:174; Halichot Olam, vol. 4, p. 200. It is preferable that one should have a toothbrush that is set aside specifically for Shabbat use. See also in Ohr LeTzion, vol. 2, 35:6.


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