Wiping stained hands on a cloth or clothing on Shabbos

Wiping stained hands on a cloth – The law of Pesik Reishei by dyeing:[1]

Clothes that are not designated for wiping:[2] Some Poskim[3] rule that one who stained his hands with a dyeing pigment, such as one who ate strawberries [pomegranates, beets] and the like, needs to be careful not to touch his clothing or [other non- designated] cloth, due to the prohibition of dyeing.[4] However, other Poskim[5] are lenient and rule that it is permitted to wipe dirty hands on the cloth.[6] Practically, one is to be stringent like the former opinion.[7] Thus, one is not to wipe his pigmented[8] hands onto a cloth or clothing [even if the cloth is white] and certainly must avoid doing so if the cloth/clothing is red.[9]

Clothes designated for wiping:[10] Clothes that are designated for wiping dirty hands may be used to clean one’s colored hands.[11]



One may wipe one’s pigmented hands on cloths or clothes designated for wiping. One may not do so on cloths or clothes that are not designated for wiping.


Must one today be careful not to touch his shirt with dyed hands, even though we no longer dye clothing today at home?

Yes. However, some[12] write that this is no longer necessary to be careful in this matter today as our clothing are never commonly dyed at home, and hence according to all opinions one may wipe his hands on all colored clothing.


May one who wet his hands with red wine use clothing to dry them?[13]

Some Poskim[14] rule one may do so without restriction on towels and clothing that are not commonly dyed. Others[15] rule it is only allowed by light red wine, as opposed to dark red wine. Others[16] rule one may wipe wine from one’s hands on any clothing, as wine is not a dyeing agent.


Must one be careful when drinking wine that it does not spill on one’s shirt and the like?

If the wine is very red, then one is to be careful in this matter, as stated above regarding strawberries. One is likewise to be careful not to touch his shirt with his wet hands after making Kiddush on this wine.


May one clean a spill of wine using a cloth?

If the cloth is designated for this purpose, then it may be used irrelevant of the color of the wine. If the cloth is not designated for this purpose, then it may not be used if the wine is white, due to the laundering prohibition, and if the wine is very red it may not be used due to the dyeing prohibition. If, however, the wine is roze color, it may be used.


May one use a tissue or napkin to wipe his stained hands?[17]

Yes, this may be done even if his hands are stained with a strawberry color.[18]

Cloth napkin: A cloth napkin may be used to clean one’s stained hands, being that it is designated for this purpose.


May one filter red wine through a cloth?

See “The laws of Separating” Chapter 3!


May one use Q-tips on Shabbos?



[1] Admur 320:27; As explained in Halacha 2-3, dyeing clothing contains a Biblical prohibition when done with a permanent dye and a Rabbinical prohibition when done with a dye that will not last. The following law will discuss if one may wipe his colored hands on a cloth in order to clean them, having no intent at all to dye the cloth in doing so.

[2] Admur 320:27

[3] First opinion in Admur ibid; “Yeish Mi Sheomer” in Michaber 320:20; Shibulei Haleket 86; Yireim 274; Rokeiach 70; Kol Bo 31; Maharam Rikanti 123

[4] The reason: Now, although when doing so one [has no intention to dye, but] is actually ruining the cloth, and whenever one does an action on Shabbos in a way of damage he has not Biblically transgressed, nevertheless it is forbidden to be done Rabbinically. [Admur ibid; M”A 328:52; Yireim ibid; Rikanti ibid; M”B 320:57] This is because a cloth is common to be dyed, and if one would clean his hands on the cloth for dyeing purposes, he would transgress Biblically. Thus, although now he is doing it in order to clean his hands in a destructive manner, nevertheless, since it is similar to the actual Melacha, therefore it is Rabbinically forbidden. [Kuntrus Achron 302:1] The above Poskim follow the ruling that it is forbidden to perform a Pesik Resihei on Shabbos even if it is not Nicha Lei. [M”B 320:57]

[5] 2nd opinion in Admur ibid; brought in M”A 320:24; M”B 320:59; Igor 484; Darkei Moshe 2; Radbaz 131; Chacham Tzevi

[6] The reason: As this is only a form of dirtying it [rather than dyeing it], and thus it is not [even] considered to be [Rabbinical] dyeing at all. [Admur ibid]

[7] Admur ibid; M”A 320:24-25; Michaber 328:48; To note that in Admur 328:54 [brought in Halacha 3 below] Admur plainly rules like the stringent opinion regarding wiping blood on a cloth and does not even make mention of the lenient opinion mentioned here.

Other Poskim: Some Poskim rule one may be lenient in a time of need. [Elya Raba; Machatzis Hashekel; Chayeh Adam; M”B 320:59 and 328:146 ]

[8] See Q&A for the definition of what type of pigments contains this prohibition and which do not

[9] Admur ibid; 328:53; M”A 320:25; 328:52; M”B 320:57

The reason: As by a red cloth [dirtying it with the fruit pigment] is not considered to be damaging the cloth at all [and it is hence more severe]. [Poskim ibid]

[10] Kuntrus Achron 302:1; See 319:13; 320:21; M”A 319:11; Ketzos Hashulchan 136 footnote 11; SSH”K 14:19; Piskeiy Teshuvos 320:11 based on Admur Kuntrus Achron 302; Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 3 20:20 [p. 295]

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule it does not suffice to designate a garment for this purpose, and only by an item which people do not care to dye does the allowance apply. [Avnei Nezer 175, brought in Ketzos Hashulchan 136 footnote 11]

[11] The reason: Doing so is not prohibited due to the dyeing prohibition, as the dyeing prohibition only applies when one is intentionally doing so for the purpose of dyeing, or when done to a non-designated cloth which is common to dye. [Admur ibid] Seemingly, the reason why a designated cloth helps is because it is evident to all that one is not doing an act of dyeing [or laundering] when using it to clean his hands [or strain liquid through] and it is hence not similar to the Melacha at all. If, however, the cloth is not designated for this purpose, then it appears as if one is doing an act of dyeing, or laundering, and is hence at least Rabbinically forbidden. Alternatively, the reason is because once the cloth has been designated for this purpose, it is no longer common to dye it at all, and hence there is no need to decree against dyeing if one has no intent to do so. If, however, one intends to dye it or launder it, then certainly it is forbidden to do on Shabbos even if one designated the cloth for this purpose. It is only when it is done Derech Lichluch, and one has no intent to dye, and is not common to dye, that we permit it. The practical ramification would be regarding a urine test sticks, and baby diapers that change color, as explained in Q&A at end of chapter!

[12] Piskeiy Teshuvos 320:26 based on Admur in Kuntrus Achron ibid

[13] Based on the above that one is to be stringent when wiping off stains, seemingly the same applies regarding red wine, that one should not wipe it on a cloth and should rather wash it off.

However from other rulings of Admur it appears that by wine this is allowed, and thus it remains to be understood why it does not fall under the same ruling as above, that one is to be stringent not to wipe his hands. The following are the cases that Admur allows it to be done:

In 319:13 Admur allows one to use a random cloth for filtering red wine and beer and does not mention any problem of that it dyes the cloth and is therefore forbidden. [although Lechatchilah it is proper [“tov”] for one to suspect for the stringent opinion that it is a problem of Borer, although according to all there is no problem of dyeing.] Similarly in 301:59 Admur rules that one may even Lechatchilah place a cloth into red wine and beer, such as when he is doing it to filter the liquid. Similarly in 320:21 Admur rules the same as above.

Answers that were given for the above question:

The Tehila Ledavid 319:16: In 319 and 301 Admur is referring to cloths which are not normally dyed and thus by them there is no suspicion for dyeing, and it is allowed, while by here 320 Admur is referring to cloths that are common to be dyed and by them one should be stringent.

The Ketzos Hashulchan [146 Badei Hashulchan 14 number 13] explains that perhaps by very red wine it has the same problem as by strawberries, although by light red wine it does not, and thus those areas where Admur stated that it is allowed is because he is referring to light red wine.  He then concludes that one who wants to do according to all opinions, should use a designated cloth for filtering the wine, as explained above from the Kuntrus Achron.

Rabbi Farkash [Shabbos Kihalacha Vol. 2 page 352 and 384]: Argues on the above two answers and rather explains: According to Admur, he learns like those Rishonim that learn that by wine [and other fruit juices] its color is never considered able to dye a cloth but  rather its color dirties a cloth, and thus it is never applicable to the Issur of dyeing, as opposed to strawberries and the like which can be used for dyeing, and thus even when used to dirty a cloth, like to wipe ones hands, we still prohibit it Rabinically.

[14] Tehila Ledavid 319:16

[15] Ketzos Hashulchan 146 Badei Hashulchan 16 number 13

[16] Shabbos Kihalacha Vol. 2 page 352 and 384

[17] SSH”K 14:19; Piskeiy Teshuvos 320:11 based on Admur Kuntrus Achron 302; Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 3 20:20 [p. 295]

This is unlike the ruling of Rav Farkash in Tahara Kehalacha 10:28 which rules that tissues should not be used as they are not specifically designated for this purpose. Vetzaruch Iyun Gadol from where he understood that they must be designated for a specific form of wiping, as opposed to general wiping. In Shabbos Kehalacha ibid he clearly contradicts himself.

[18] As they are designated for wiping, and thus do not contain a dyeing prohibition.

[19] As it is designated for this purpose. It is no different than one using tissues after the bathroom.

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