Ready, Set, Clean!

March 28, 2024

Elisheva Braun

Are you the organizing-while-I-clean type? Do you use the good old remove, wipe, replace system? Or are you somewhere in the middle? Pick your style!

Follow Leah, Shifra, and Ruchie—basic, medium, and pro—in their quest to void, vacuum, vanquish, and otherwise eradicate every vestige of leaven from their homes.

(And maybe get their lightbulb covers cleaned in the process…or is that too much to hope for?)

The minimalist

Ruchie S.

Meet Ruchie


I have six kids, aged 3–16, most of whom are boys.


I work full time and have a very busy life. Sundays are calm at my house, as my boys are not home, so that’s the day I do a lot of the Pesach cleaning.


In general, I’m very minimalistic. We don’t have tons of stuff; I’m always throwing things out.

While Pesach cleaning—and even on a random Wednesday—when I notice something I haven’t used in two years, I get rid of it. This makes Pesach cleaning easier. I also don’t allow my kids to take food upstairs, which is a great preventative Pesach measure.

The runup

For me, it’s all about being calm.

Life is so busy. Pesach is coming, but laundry still has to happen, along with Shabbos and suppers and last-minute dentist appointments. I find creative moments to slide the cleaning in.

The attic, the upstairs bedrooms, the overstuffed, cozy, impossible-to-clean study couch, and pulling out and cleaning behind large kitchen appliances are all done before Purim. Even—I learned this trick from my mother—the upper kitchen cabinets can be done far in advance.

In the little pockets of time I have throughout the weeks before Purim, I try to get all the very time-consuming or labor-intensive jobs done. For example, I dread scrubbing the oven door. It takes a lot of elbow grease and St. Mortiz. Instead of leaving it for the last minute, I do the oven door early and then the job is quick and easy when it comes down to the wire.

My goal is to keep Pesach cleaning relaxed. If the knowledge that I cleaned a certain room will give me menuchas hanefesh, I do it. If it’s just a stress because I’ll have to guard it to make sure no one eats there, I leave it for later.

The kids

All my kids are involved in Pesach cleaning. Boys are great cleaners, and we have a lot of fun together.

They may use way more Windex than necessary, and sometimes they whack the schmatte on the window instead of swiping it suavely, but at the end of the day, if the window gets clean, it’s all good.

The help

My cleaning lady comes every Friday for a bunch of hours. She’s there to help get the house ready for Shabbos. She doesn’t do any Pesach cleaning.

When it’s just too much

The hardest part of Pesach prep, for some reason, is the shopping. I get so overwhelmed from the frenetic rushing around to stores. How do I cope? I go into my room, close the door, crawl under my blanket, and cry. Crying is the most cleansing activity!

The truth is that it’s not until after Yom Tov that I snap. I don’t cook for the entire week post-Pesach.

Staying motivated

We love Yom Tov! We run on anticipation and adrenaline, take lots of pictures, laugh, and just enjoy our time together. A teacher once shared that with every stroke of the scrub, we create a malach. I don’t know if it’s true, but the thought gives me chizuk.

Crunch time

The way I see it, Pesach stress is all in the mind. I do whatever I can to make myself feel calm.

In that last week-and-a-half, we finish the main floor, turn over the kitchen, and cook.

“Ma, I’m hungry!”

It’s painful when, as you scrub and sweat, your child says, “Ma, there’s nothing to eat.”

It’s best to preempt this by having a plan. Sometimes I buy bagels and make tuna; sometimes it’s a Crock-Pot meal or a fresh kugel. (Don’t be afraid of your food processor!)

As long as there’s yapchik or biscotti or pizza and the kids are well-fed, they’re happy and excited to help.

Throughout the year, whenever I get gift cards for takeout places, I save them for the two weeks before Pesach. Still, we spend lots of money on food. From three nights before Pesach, I serve fully Pesach’dige suppers. As my friend’s father once quipped, “Pesach is three weeks long. But it’s only in the last week that you’re allowed to eat matzah.”

My message to women

We’re so lucky to be in the role we’re in. There are so many people who would do anything to switch places with us.

When things are hectic, I like to remind myself: I’m a Yid; I’m frum; Hashem granted me a husband and children. I’m lucky to have Yom Tov and to enjoy such a happy, connected Yiddishkeit with so much richness and meaning. I’m lucky to have a house to clean.