Washing hands after leaving the bathroom

Washing hands after leaving the bathroom:[1]

One who leaves a bathroom must wash his hands [immediately[2]] afterwards.[3] [This applies even if he entered the bathroom and did not relieve himself.[4] This applies even by today’s bathrooms.[5] However, those who are lenient not to wash their hands after entering bathrooms that contain other uses[6] have upon whom to rely if they simply entered and did not do their needs.[7]]



How many times is one to wash hands after leaving the bathroom?[8]

Although from the letter of the law washing one time suffices[9], the custom is to wash one’s hands three times inconsecutively[10] after using the bathroom.[11]

One who entered the bathroom and did not use it: It is not necessary to be stringent to wash one’s hands three times after leaving the bathroom if one did not use it.[12] Nevertheless, some Poskim[13] write that one who does so is blessed.


Is one to use a vessel when washing after leaving the bathroom?

The custom is to do so, as explained in Halacha 3 Q&A.

Is one to wash his hands if only his hand entered into the bathroom, such as to close the door?

Yes.[14] Some[15] rule one is to wash each hand three times. Others[16] rule that in such a case washing one time suffices, although one who washes three times is blessed. Practically it is not necessary to be stringent to wash one’s hands three times. Furthermore, some Poskim[17] rule that regarding today’s bathrooms one may be lenient not to wash the hands at all in such a case.

May one wash his hands using the bathroom sink?[18]

One is to avoid washing his hands using the water of a bathroom.[19] However, in a time of need one may wash his hands inside a bathroom. This especially applies to the sink of a public bathroom, which is generally in a separate area of the room than the toilets and urinals.[20] Nevertheless, initially one is to dry the hands outside the bathroom. 


Does spreading a sheet between the toilet and sink validate the sink to be used for washing?[21]

If the sheet cannot be moved with the wind, and is within three Tefach from the ground and reaches up to ten Tefach from the ground, then some allow washing hands in that sink even initially.

May one touch food prior to washing hands after leaving the bathroom?

Some Poskim[22] rule one is to avoid touching foods until after the hands are washed.

Must one dry his hands upon washing after using the bathroom?[23]

One is to dry his hands from the water poured after using the bathroom. Alternatively, one is to pour a fourth time over his hands.[24]

Should one wash his hands after using the bathroom if he wore gloves?

Yes, as the Ruach Ra’ah bypasses the gloves.




[1] Kama 4:18; ; Michaber 4:18; Beis Yosef 4:18; Abudarham p. 369 in name of Tashbeitz; Kol Bo 23; See also Mordechai Brachos Remez 194; Orchos Chaim Hilchos Netilas Yadayim 10

[2] M”A 4:18; Seder Hayom; Elya Raba 4:12; Peri Megadim 4:18; Kaf Hachaim 4:63; M”B 4:38; Omitted by Admur. Vetzaruch Iyun.

[3] The Reason: The impure spirit resides on the hands upon using the bathroom. This applies according to all. See Halacha 2 in footnotes.

If one urinated or defecated in a field does the impure spirit reside? See Kaf Hachaim 7:3 who writes that the spirit of impurity does not reside in such a case. So is also implied from Mateh Efraim 613:5; Vetzaruch Iyun as to his source for saying that the impure spirit does not reside after using the bathroom but resides in a bathroom. How can a bathroom be more strict than one who actually uses the bathroom?

[4] Peri Megadim 227 A.A. 2; M”B 4:40 in name of Artzos Hachaim and other Teshuvos; Ketzos Hashulchan 2 footnote 29; Chida in Bris Olam 8:23; Kesem Paz on Zohar; Kaf Hachaim [Falagi] 8:18; Amudei Hashulchan 2:14; Ben Ish Chaiy Toldos 16; Soles Belula 7:1; brought in Kaf Hachaim 4:65

Ruling of Admur: In 7:2 Admur rules that even if one used the bathroom, he is only obligated to wash his hands if he touched his feces or his Erva. This implies that even when one uses the bathroom, he does not always need to wash, and certainly when he simply enters it without doing his needs. Nevertheless, in truth nothing can be deduced from here as it is only discussing whether one may pray or say blessings prior to washing, and in that regards it depends on what one’s hands contacted. However, here it is discussing washing for the sake of removing the evil spirit and thus prevent forgetfulness. [Peri Megadim Ashel Avraham 4:17 and 227:2]

The reason: Upon entering a bathroom the spirit of impurity resides on one’s hands irrelevant of whether he used it to relieve himself. [Chida in Bris Olam 8:23; Kesem Paz on Zohar; Soles Belula ibid; Kaf Hachaim ibid]

[5] Levushei Mordechai 2:182; 3:18; Chazon Ish 17; Chelkas Yaakov 1:205; Minchas Yitzchak 1:60; Piskeiy Teshuvos 4:19

Other Opinions: Some Poskim rule that today’s bathrooms which flush right away do not carry the impurity of a bathroom. [Zekan Ahron 1:1; Eretz Tzevi 1:10; Oas Chaim Veshalom 43:1; Or Letziyon 1:1]

[6] Such as a shower; medicine cabinet, laundry machine etc.

[7] Piskeiy Teshuvos 4:19; Halichos Shlomo 20:24 in name of Rav SZ”A; Oar Letziyon 1:9; Az Nidbaru 12:54

[8] See M”A 7:1; Elya Raba 4:12; P”M 4 A”A 17; Machatzis Hashekel 17; Soles Belula 7:1; Olas Tamid 4; Ben Ish Chaiy Toldos 16; Kaf Hachaim 4:6; Ketzos Hashulchan 2 footnote 29; Minchas Yitzchak 5:96

Background: The Magen Avraham 7:1 brings the Heichal Hakodesh who writes one is to wash his hands three times inconsecutively upon leaving a bathroom. The Magen Avraham, however, disproves the implication used from the Zohar to support this opinion. So rules also Soles Belula 4:14 and Machazik Bracha 4:6 that according to the Makor Chaim [student of Rav Chaim Vital] one is not required to wash three times. So also rules Seder Hayom. Admur clearly rules that one is not required to wash three times and does not even mention the dissenting opinion brought in the M”A. Nevertheless, the custom today has become to follow this dissenting opinion and wash the hands three times, and so concludes the Machazik Bracha ibid that he witnessed the elderly scholars washing three times. So also rules Kaf Hachaim 4:61

Opinion of M”B: The M”B 4:39 records that the M”A disproves the ruling of the Heichal Hakodesh to require washing three times.

Custom of Rebbe Rashab: The Ishkavta Dirrebbe states that when the Rebbe Rashab fell ill he would wash his hands three times inconsecutively after a bowel movement and one time after urinating. [See Ishkavta Dirrebbe p. 16]

[9] Admur Kama 4:18; M”A 4:17; Seder Hayom; Kneses Hagedola; Machazik Bracha 4:6 and Soles Belula 4:14 according to the Makor Chaim [student of Rav Chaim Vital]; Nimukeiy Orach Chaim 4:2; Regarding the opinion of the Makor Chaim, quoted in many Poskim, there is a dispute as to whether he holds one is to wash three times or one time suffices. [See Kaf Hachaim 4:61]

Other Opinions: Some Poskim rule that one is required to pour three times on his hand just like is required upon awakening in the morning. [Magen Avraham 7:1 in name of Heichal Hakodesh; Olas Tamid; Shlah Shaar Haosiyos 9; Lev Chaim 1:63; Kaf Hachaim [Falagi] 7:26; Ruach Chaim 4:3; Chesed Lealafim brought in Kaf Hachaim 4:61; Kaf Hachaim 4:61 concludes that one who is stringent to wash three times after all the above actions is holy.

[10] Ben Ish Chaiy Toldos 16; Kaf Hachaim 4:62; Ketzos Hashulchan 2 footnote 29; Halichos Shlomo 20 footnote 86; See M”A 4:18 in name of Seder Hayom that after the bathroom one should wash immediately, like in the morning.

Other Opinions: Shulchan Hatahor 6 writes it suffices to pour three times consecutively on each hand. See Piskeiy Teshuvos 4 footnote 165

[11] Elya Raba 4:12; P”M 4 A”A 17; Machatzis Hashekel 17; Soles Belula 7:1; Olas Tamid 4; Ben Ish Chaiy Toldos 16; Kaf Hachaim 4:6; Ketzos Hashulchan 2 footnote 29; Minchas Yitzchak 5:96; All Poskim in other opinion in pervious footnote;

[12] Piskeiy Teshuvos 4 footnote 171 being that regarding today’s bathrooms there is a dispute if at all they have a status of a place of impurity.

[13] Ben Ish Chaiy Toldos 16; Ruach Chaim 3:3

[14] Torah Leshma 23; Lev Chaim 4:2; Ruach Chaim 3:3; Kaf Hachaim 3:3 and 4:66; Mishneh Yosef 5:6; Yabia Omer 9:108

[15] Ruach Chaim 3:3

[16] Ben Ish Chaiy Toldos 16 brought in Kaf Hachaim 4:66

[17] Lehoros Nasan 7:1; Tzitz Eliezer 7:2; Piskeiy Teshuvos 4:20 footnote 200; See Daas Torah 4

[18] Kaf Hachaim 4:11; Oas Chaim 43:1; Minchas Yitzchak 4:37; Chelkas Yaakov 2:162; Yabia Omer 9:108; Piskeiy Teshuvos 4:19

Background: Although there is no prohibition in doing a Mitzvah within a bathroom [Darkei Teshuvah Yoreh Deah 19:21] nevertheless the question is raised whether the water in a bathroom is able to purify one’s hands.

[19] As a bathroom is a place of impurity and hence how can washing in it remove the impurity. [Minchas Yitzchak ibid in name of Poskim]

[20] See Mishneh Halachos 5:2

[21] See Piskeiy Teshuvos 4:19; Chayeh Levi 1:14; Oar Letziyon 1:9

[22] Lev Chaim 1:3; Afrakasta Deanya 1:133; Mahram Brisk 1:10; Toras Yekusiel 1:7

[23] Machazik Bracha 4:2; Kaf Hachaim 4:8; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 4 footnote 75

[24] As also the bathroom contains an impure spirit and hence one is to avoid placing this water on other areas. [ibid]

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