Raanana Community Kollel
The Pesach Kitchen
Rabbi Dovid Horwitz
As we approach the final weeks before Pesach, the main thing on many people’s minds is probably cleaning and kashering the kitchen. This indeed should be the bulwark of one’s pre-Pesach preparations, as the remainder of the house can be cleaned relatively easily by tidying, vacuuming, sweeping and sponging. The kitchen however, needs a more thorough cleaning since our Pesach foods will be coming into contact with surfaces and utensils that may have contained chametz during the year. It is essential that any part of the kitchen which one plans on using during Pesach be totally clean of any chametz or chametz residue. With this in mind, let us focus on the basic components of the kitchen.
Any cabinets that will be used during Pesach to store Pesach foods and utensils should be cleaned thoroughly with a cloth and soapy water. Although many cover the shelves of the cabinets with shelving paper, this is not technically required as long as they are completely clean.
Refrigerators / Freezers
Every surface must be cleaned with a cloth and detergent. Here too, many line the shelves with paper or aluminum foil, but it is unnecessary to do so, provided that one does not place hot food directly onto the shelves.
Most Poskim maintain that one can kasher an oven by cleaning it with a caustic oven cleaner and heating it to its highest setting for one hour. One should let the oven stand idle for 24 hours between the cleaning and the kashering. If, during the year, one does not place food directly on the racks of the oven, then the racks can be kashered together with the oven. If one does sometimes place food directly on the oven shelves, then they cannot be kashered in this way. They should be covered with heavy duty aluminum foil after a through cleaning.
After cleaning with oven cleaner, the burners should be turned on to there highest flame for fifteen minutes. It is preferable to cover the grates with a sheet of metal or foil during the kashering process in order to intensify the heat. After everything cools, one should cover the stove top itself with aluminum, cutting out holes for the burners. One does not need to cover the grates themselves with foil since the kashering process alone is sufficient.
A microwave oven can be kashered according to many Poskim. After cleaning it well, one should place a cup of water inside and run the oven until a heavy steam is created. The bottom of the oven should be covered with cardboard.
Porcelain (white) sinks cannot be kashered and therefore one should use sink inserts to ensure that one’s dishes do not come into contact with the sides of the sink. For those who own stainless steel sinks, they can be kashered by pouring boiling water over every part of the sides and bottom of the sink. Bleach or other detergents should be poured down the drain in order to render any chametz particles inside of the drain inedible. Sink faucets can be kashered by turning on the hot water while simultaneously pouring boiling water over the outside of the faucet.
Because it is difficult to kasher countertops, the prevalent custom is to cover them with contact paper or heavy aluminum foil. Even so, many pour boiling water over the surfaces before they cover them. This is halachically unnecessary provided the covering one uses is sturdy and will not come off during Pesach.
The dining room and breakfast tables should be cleaned well and covered so that no Pesach food will come into contact with the surfaces.