Reader question: Dishes and kitchen on Shabbat 4


Unwashed dishes in a sink; an authentic situation.

In this week’s challenge, we’re working on our Shabbat: organizing it, getting preparations done more smoothly, and now…the kitchen.

Shuli asked a good question that is very relevant to me – and I’m guessing a lot of other readers, too.

Shuli writes: “I don’t like to spend the whole shabbos cleaning up and washing dishes (and no dishwasher to put things away in) so it gets really messy in the kitchen/dining room, and I’m experimenting with ways to keep things reasonably organized after each meal without doing a lot of work . Any ideas?”

I have a few, especially now that I’ve spent the past month visiting friends and family around the U.S. (yes, really a month. Before our move. Lots of fun.)

Also, a lot of these are AYLOR (Ask Your Local Orthodox Rabbi) tidbits. For example, there are ways/reasons to do dishes and ways/times when you can’t. You should get familiar with the laws as they apply to you so you can work it out best for your household.

-Shelley, on OJH’s Facebook page wrote, “YES! We have a new house rule. Every dish gets washed between each course. Family can wait 2 extra minutes, as can guests. I’ve found it to be really successful. While I don’t pack away everything while the meal is still going, I neatly pile it all up on the counter for easy packing back in the cupboards!”

-One of my aunts has an empty cupboard under her counter. On Shabbat, she puts all the dishes from each meal into one (or several) plastic dish tubs in her reserved cupboard.  They are scraped before they go in so they don’t stink, and she stacks like with like to make it easier to manage. Then she deals with them after Shabbat. This leaves the counters and sink clean and takes away the unsightly mess without having to do the dishes on Shabbat. (If she’ll need the dishes again before Shabbat is over, she does wash them).

-If you have a weekday table or another small space you won’t be using on Shabbat, you could stack them there. You could even cover it with a tablecloth or towel, and then deal with it after Shabbat.

-Of course, the quickest and most costly option is to use disposable goods. Since we often serve fish, my small china plates are usually dirty, and I will use the fancy plastic for dessert. Right before and after a move, new baby, Pesach, etc. we use more disposable, too. (If you’re looking for an online source for fancy and regular disposables, check here – and get $10 off your first order!)

Pots and pans: I try to have all of them cleaned by Shabbat. If not, and my dishwasher can’t take it, then I put them into a corner, or sometimes even under the sink. By shalesheudos, I may just set them in the sink to await their motzei Shabbos fate.

Can anyone share other ideas?

About Amital

A die-hard listmaker and observant Jewish mommy of 5, managing the challenges of life bit by bit with the help of a Shalom Bayit book and lists. And chocolate, of course. Lots of chocolate.


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4 thoughts on “Reader question: Dishes and kitchen on Shabbat

  • Shuli

    Thanks for responding, Amital!
    I love the picture…. I like the first 2 ideas…does it really take just 2 minutes to wash all the dishes between courses?

    • Amital Post author

      I guess. I try to avoid dishes at all costs – it’s probably my least favorite chore to do. 😉

      I would think it would depend on how many people you have, and cold water washing is less quick for some things.

  • Shuli

    Sometimes I pile things up in my oven (I call it the “dishwasher”) but I’ve broken a couple dishes by forgetting about them and preheating the oven sunday morning…NOT smart!!!

  • Amital Post author

    Lol…I like your “dishwasher.” I’ve left things in the oven, too, but usually something that I meant to cool. Then I reheat (usually BURN) it the next time I preheat. Ooops.