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Tips for a Non-Toxic, Joy-Filled Passover Cleaning

Updated: Feb 15, 2023

Now that Purim is over, Passover is on everyone’s mind.

One of the mitzvahs of Passover is to remove all traces of “chametz,” or bread products, from our homes (and cars). This task can give people anxiety, but it doesn’t have to.

A Jewish home is likened to a “mikdash me’at,” a mini sanctuary.[1] No less holy than a shul, our homes are places where we do mitzvot and serve God. Thus to clean the “vessels” of our homes can actually be a holy act, depending on our intention.

With regard to Passover, I look at Passover cleaning as a spiritual opportunity to do spring cleaning in my home and in my soul. We all need a good cleaning every now and then, to remove the “shmutz” that’s been cluttering our physical space, our hearts, and our minds.

Specifically, chametz, which is often puffed up due to yeast, is likened to the inflated ego, arrogance, and pride. When we remove the chametz from our home and refrain from eating it on Passover, the spiritual effect is to remove these negative character traits from our souls. Passover is the time of freedom; we can clean our homes with the spiritual intention to free ourselves from anything holding us back and in doing so, elevate an otherwise mundane act.

Ok, now for the practical part.

Every year, I make a Passover plan. I break down what needs to get done and give myself (and my husband!) certain tasks to complete each week. I find that when the cleaning is done in stages, it is less overwhelming. I highly recommend this book, which helps me to plan properly and keep it all in perspective: Prepare for Pesach…B’simchah! (With joy!)

Second, I use a less toxic, yet effective cleaning regime that I learned from one of my “lifestyle gurus,” Donna Eshelman. Donna is allergic to certain chemicals and toxic products, so like the rat in the Disney movie Ratatouille, she can really distinguish between what is harmful and what isn’t.

I have adopted Donna’s recommended cleaning regime and it has been great. Here it is:

The products (available at Whole Foods or on Amazon):

Sal Suds is a highly concentrated all-purpose cleaner. I dilute it in a spray bottle (1 quart of water to 1 Tablespoon of Sal Suds). It is great for tiles, counters, ovens, showers, tubs, glass, and even wood floors. To mop the wood floors, I dilute 3 gallons of hot water with ½ Tablespoon of Sal Suds). I found this Sal Suds Dilution Cheat Sheet to be helpful.

I use the baking soda in the bathroom. I spray the toilets with Sal Suds, scrub the bowl with baking soda on a brush, wait for 10 minutes, then flush.

In the kitchen, I wet the sink, sprinkle Bon Ami powder, spray with Sal Suds, wait, then scrub.

I dilute the white vinegar (1 part vinegar to 3 parts water) to use for windows. Occasionally, per Donna’s instructions, I also put about 1/3 cup of undiluted white vinegar down each drain to keep the drains unclogged and free of bacteria.

I thought I should mention that I use Ecover dishwashing liquid to hand wash dishes and their tablets for the dishwasher. I try to buy their “zero” or fragrance-free products, as fragrances often add harmful chemicals to otherwise green products.

Last, I am looking for a recommendation for an effective, toxic-free laundry detergent. If you know of one, please let me know.

I hope you find this information helpful in your Passover (and year-round) cleaning!

[1] Slovie Jungreis-Wolff, Raising A Child With Soul, p. 7 (From the verse, “They shall make a Sanctuary for Me so that I may dwell among them.” (Exodus 25:8)). “Our sages teach us that these words include the understanding that if we build a home enveloped in sanctity, then G-d promises His presence within.”

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