Washing dishes on Shabbos

Washing dishes on Shabbos: [1]

All dishes/cutlery needed to be used on Shabbos may be washed anytime on Shabbos, even much time prior to the meal.[2] Thus one may wash the Friday night dishes immediately after the meal on Friday night and does not need to wait until the morning. Furthermore, so long as there still remains one meal which he will eat on Shabbos one may wash as many dishes and cutlery as he desires, even if he only needs to use one of those dishes for the meal.[3] If however one will not be eating any more Shabbos meals, such as after Shalosh Seudos [or after the 2nd meal in those homes which do not eat a full Shalosh Seudos meal] then it is forbidden to wash any dishes or cutlery.[4] [If however one decides to eat again after the 2nd/3rd meal then he may wash the dishes for the meal.[5]]

Washing cups: It is permitted to wash cups throughout the entire day of Shabbos, even after the final meal[6], unless one is certain that he will no longer need the cup, in which case it is forbidden to wash it.

Washing dishes with soap:[7] It is forbidden to wash dishes using a bar of soap.[8] [One may however use liquid soap as will be explained in the Q&A]

Washing dishes with salt water:[9] One may not use salty water to scrub the vessels as by doing so one actively dissolves the salt which is forbidden due to the Nolad prohibition.[10] One may however rinse the dishes using salty water [so long as he does not rub it with his hands in the process.[11] Likewise one may place salt in water initially on Shabbos for this purpose even if the water ratio will be less than 1/3 of the mixture.[12]]

Washing off non-Kosher food from a utensil: See the end of the next Halacha!



One may wash as many dishes as he desires if there is still one remaining meal left to be eaten on Shabbos. After the final meal dishes may not be washed with exception to cups, unless one knows for certain he will not be needing the cups until after Shabbos.


Q&A on washing Dishes

May one wash dirty dishes even if he has clean dishes available?

Some Poskim[13] rule it is better not to wash the dishes if there are clean dishes available. Others[14] rule it is completely forbidden. Others[15] rule it is even initially permitted to wash dirty dishes for the meal even if one has clean dishes available to use. Practically the custom is to be lenient.


May one wash the dishes after his last meal if they are tarnishing the cleanliness of the house?[16]

Yes, one may clean the dishes in order to reside a clean and tidy atmosphere in one’s home. One may do so according to all opinions, even if he does not need them to eat another meal on Shabbos.[17]


May one wash dishes on Shabbos if he will only be using them the next Shabbos?

No.[18] However there are Poskim[19] which rule this is allowed.


May one soak the dishes in water after his last Shabbos meal?[20]

If one is doing so merely so the food not stick to the dishes, then soaking it is allowed. If however food is already stuck to the dishes and one desires to soak it in order to remove the food, then doing so is forbidden. It is however permitted to place the dishes in the sink as normal, and then proceed to wash one’s hands over it.[21]


May one wash his food pots on Shabbos?

No[22], unless one plans on using the pot on Shabbos for a certain usage.


May one enter water into his food pot in order to let the pot soak?

If there is food stuck to the bottom of the pot, doing so is forbidden, as explained above. However one may place the pot in the sink and casually wash his hands over it.


May one wash his Kiddush cup out after Kiddush of the day meal?

Seemingly if one is particular to only use the cup for Kiddush and Havdala then it may not be washed after the daytime Kiddush unless one plans on using it.[23] If however one is not particular in this respect then it may be washed throughout the day as is the law by other cups.

In all cases one may rinse out the wine and then drink some water out from the cup and place it on the drying rack.


Q&A on Soaps

Which soaps may be used to wash dishes?[24]

  • It is forbidden to use a bar of soap.
  • Liquid soap: Liquid soap may be used on Shabbos.[25] This includes even if the soap is slightly thick to the point that it cannot be poured like actual liquid but is rather more like a pasty substance. [However there is an opinion[26] which is stringent against using liquid soap even when the soap is thin like water due to the smoothening prohibition. However if one added water to the soap and it has thus already been melted down with water then it is permitted to be used according to all[27].] Practically the custom is to avoid using thick liquid soap.[28] Regarding using scented liquid soaps, see Volume 2 “The Laws of Molid Reiach”
  • Dish detergent:[29] Dish detergent may be used with a large amount of water, so as not to transgress the kneading prohibition. Likewise one may rub it dry onto the dishes using wet hands and then wash it off.


May one place soap into a cup of liquid and have it dissolve and then use that to wash dishes?[30]

Yes, as doing so is similar to placing ice in ones drink which is allowed. Furthermore one may even mix the soap into the water through shaking the vessel.[31]

However some are stringent to only enter the bar of soap into the water from before Shabbos.[32]

Q&A on Sponges

Which forms of sponges may be used to wash the dishes?

Regular sponge: It is forbidden to use a sponge on Shabbos due to the squeezing prohibition.[33] This applies even if the sponge has a handle.

Synthetic sponges and steel wool[34]:

Some Poskim[35] rule all forms of synthetic or steel wool sponges are forbidden to be used due to it being a mundane act, and due to the squeezing prohibition.

Others[36] however permit using synthetic [or metal[37]] sponges which have their threads visibly spread apart from each other, as in such a case using them does not involve the squeezing prohibition.  However they forbid using steel wool[38], and any sponge which has its threads close to each other.

Others[39] question that perhaps it is permitted to use all types of synthetic or metal sponges[40]. Practically they rule one is not to be lenient by closely knitted sponges.

Others[41] rule that even those sponges which are permitted used, may only be used it if the sponge is designated specifically for Shabbos.

[1] 323/6-7

[2] Such as immediately after the previous meal. [ibid]

[3] So rules Admur 323/6 regarding cups and the same applies for all eating utensils. The reason for this is because once the Sages allowed washing a dish for the meal, they no longer restricted how many dishes one may wash as every dish washed can possibly be used on Shabbos. Thus this is allowed even if one is certain that he will not need to use all the dishes washed.[Ketzos Hashulchan 146 footnote 30 in name of Machatzis Hashekel and Peri Megadim]

[4] As by doing so one is preparing for after Shabbos, and it is forbidden for one to trouble himself on Shabbos for the sake of after Shabbos.[ ibid]

[5] Ketzos Hashulchan 146/16

[6] As there is no set time for drinking. [ibid]

[7] 326/10

[8] As by doing so one dissolves the soap which is forbidden due to the Molid [creating new substance] prohibition. Now although there are opinions which rule that there is no prohibition against creating a new substance and the reason behind the prohibition for dissolving ice is due to a decree of fruit juices, which has no relevance to dissolving soaps and the like, and hence according to them it is permitted to dissolve soap. Nevertheless Admur concludes one is to be stringent like the first opinion. [ibid]

[9] 323/12

[10] See 320/19 which brings a dispute in this matter. Practically, Admur rules to be stringent.

[11] 320/19

[12] Ketzos Hashulchan 146 footnote 33, based on fact Admur omits the opinion of the Taz which rules making more than 2/3 ratio of salt to water is forbidden.

[13] Minchas Shabbos 80/154; Tosefes Shabbos 323/8, Betzeil Hachachmah 4/130; see Sheivet Haleivi 6/42

[14] Beir Moshe 6/82

[15] Bris Olam Ofah 90; Mishneh Halachos 6/80

[16] See Beir Moshe ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos 323/1

[17] This is similar to the allowance to make the beds on Shabbos morning even though they will not be used until the after Shabbos.

[18] Tehila Ledavid 302/6

[19] See Piskeiy Teshuvos 323/1

[20] SSH”K 12/3

[21] Az Nidbaru 5/36

[22] As pots are not a meal utensil and are rather used for the cooking. Hence cleaning them serves no benefit for the meal.

[23] Since a Kiddush cup is a unique cup which some only use for Kiddush alone therefore once Kiddush has been made, it is similar to plates and dishes which have no use any more on Shabbos after the last meal. It is likewise similar to washing cup when one is certain he will no longer use them on Shabbos, in which case Admur rules washing them is forbidden.

[24] SSH”K 14/16 footnote 49, based on Ketzos Hashulchan 138 footnote 31 with regards to using toothpaste. So rules also Ketzos Hashulchan explicitly in 146 footnote 32; See also Shabbos Kehalacha Volume 3 17/73

[25] As it is already a liquid and the bubbles that it creates have no significance.

[26] Igros Moshe 1/113

[27] So rules Az Nidbaru 1/16 brought in Piskeiy Teshuvos 326/8

[28] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 3 17/73

[29] Piskeiy Teshuvos 323/5

[30] Ketzos Hashulchan 127 footnote 13; Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 3 17/75

[31] As explained in Volume 2 “The Laws of Melting ice and Snow” Halacha 2 Q&A there, based on Ketzos Hashulchan 127 Footnote 2. So also rules SSH”K 14/16; Kaf Hachaim 320/60          

[32] Ketzos Hashulchan 146 footnote 32

[33] 320/23

[34] There are three possible issues discussed in Poskim regarding these forms of sponges:

Squeezing and  Uvdin Dechol may apply by all sponges and in addition Mimacheik may also apply by steel wool.

[35] Ketzos Hashulchan 146 footnote 33; Minchas Yitzchak 3/49; Beir Moshe 1/34

The Ketzos Hashulchan ibid prohibits it due to both reasons. The Minchas Yitzchak states that steel wool is forbidden being that it contains a Rabbinical squeezing prohibition similar to hair. Beir Moshe 1/34 states that although doing so does not involve a squeezing prohibition [certainly not by the thick stranded steel wool] it is perhaps forbidden due to Uvdin Dechol. Nevertheless he does not rule this way conclusively and hence leaves room for it being allowed.

[36] SSH”K 122/10; Cheishev Haeifod 2/149-however see below that he rules the sponge must be designated.

Beir Moshe ibid in previous footnote rules that possibly no prohibition of squeezing is involved even by closely netted sponges of synthetic or metal materials, although it may be forbidden by all sponges due to Uvdin Dechol. Practically he concludes that by closely knitted sponges it is forbidden, while by others it is unclear due to Uvdin Dechol. SSH”K argues that there is no precedence to claim that there is an issue of Uvdin Dechol involved.

[37]  According to this opinion if the metal sponge visibly has its strands distanced from each other then it is permitted to be used. [Piskeiy Teshuvos 323/4]

[38] Due to the Mimacheik prohibition, as ruled similarly regarding silver in 323/11 [SSH”K ibid] However it is clear from Beir Moshe/Ketzos Hashulchan ibid that he does not hold of this. Nevertheless the Beir Moshe concludes not to use the steel wool on plates which one will have to scrub them for a while.

[39] Beir Moshe ibid

[40] Even with steel wool [so long as one does not rub very thoroughly], and even if the strands are close together. [ibid]

[41] Cheishev Haeifod 2/149; Minchas Yitzchak 3/50 regarding a sponge with a handle.

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles

Leave A Comment?

You must be logged in to post a comment.