Cleaning your home ahead of a holiday isn’t a foreign concept for many families. But Passover house cleaning is more involved than your run-of-the-mill tidying. Sure, fluffing pillows and folding throw blankets are welcomed Passover cleaning practices—but the true goal is to rid the home of chametz, or food made with leavening agents.
During Passover, Jewish people commemorate their peoples’ liberation from slavery in Egypt. Because the Jewish people left Egypt in a hurry, they didn’t have time to allow their bread to rise and therefore ate unleavened bread—specifically, matzah—during their journey away from bondage. To honor this during Passover, we avoid eating anything considered to be chametz.
Along with eschewing leavened foods, Jewish people also follow the practice of kashering, or cleaning for Passover and ridding the home of chametz. If you’re new to celebrating Passover or need a refresher, this Passover cleaning guide will help.
How to Clean for Passover
Getting rid of chametz may seem easy (just remove all the bread and crackers from your kitchen, right?), but there are many less obvious steps. The goal is to rid your home of all chametz—down to the cookie crumbs dusting the floor—and remnants that happened to touch your car or bags. Think: the granola bar crumbles in your purse or the cracker dust on your child’s car seat.
To start, ensure you have the right cleaning supplies. An upright sweep set, a microfiber floor duster and a microfiber hand duster will help you capture those lingering crumbs—but if you need reinforcements, a heavy duty scrub brush will come in handy.
Now, the fun part. Here’s a Passover cleaning list that covers all of the spots that typically require attention:
Rid the Home of Obvious Chametz
First, pack up all food that’s not permitted to eat during the holiday. Remove it from the home by burning it, donating it or selling it to a non-Jew (with the intention of buying it back after Passover is over). Of course, you don’t have to buy back your food items—but if you sold your prized whiskey (considered chametz because it’s made from a forbidden grain) for a low cost, you’ll probably want to get your hands back on that bottle.
Tip: Once you’re digging into your pantry, clean out other expired food you find to tackle two tasks at once.
Clean Unlikely Spaces That May Harbor Crumbs
Once you’ve done away with your bread loaves and cracker packages, it’s time to tackle crumbs or remnants of leavened food that may have gone unnoticed. Clean under the couch cushions, the table and anywhere else food could be hiding. Don’t forget your car and purse or work bag; finding crumbs in these spaces isn’t exactly unlikely, especially if you have kids.
While you’re tidying up the rest of your home, thoroughly wipe down any tables, chairs or other areas where people eat—whether regularly or occasionally. This includes your bed if you’re a midnight snacker!
Tip: Organize your cleaning supplies with an Expandable On-The-Wall Organizer.
Passover Cleaning Checklist
Use this checklist to ensure you remember every step required to get your home Passover-ready:
- Gather food that’s considered chametz and burn it, sell it or donate it.
- Clean out any kitchen area used to store or cook food.
- Sweep, mop and vacuum the floors.
- Wipe down tables and chairs where people eat.
- Clean out purses, cars and unexpected places where crumbs may linger.
- If you have children, check their backpacks for crumbs and clean accordingly.
With a bit of pre-planning, Passover cleaning can be a satisfying and stress-free ritual—and with this checklist, you can have your home Passover-ready in no time. Plus, you can also use this time to jumpstart your spring cleaning—or even a new, regular cleaning ritual that will keep your home feeling fresh year-round.
If you’re a little rusty or novice when it comes to cleaning in general, supplement your Passover cleaning plan with these answers to home cleaning questions you may be too embarrassed to ask.