Laundering during the Nine Days

What is included in the prohibition of laundering?

Adults’ clothing may not be laundered or dry-cleaned, even if the clothing will not be worn until after Tisha b’Av. Towels, dishcloths, sheets, and tablecloths may also not be laundered.

When is the latest time to do laundry?

One may put a wash into the machine on erev Rosh Chodesh afternoon, provided that it will be finished before nightfall.

May one give laundry to a gentile cleaner?

  • During the nine days one may not give clothes to a gentile to clean.
  • Before Rosh Chodesh one may give them to a gentile, even if the clothes will be cleaned during the nine days.

May one wash the clothes of a gentile?

  • This is permitted until the week of Tisha b’Av.
  • During the week of Tisha b’Av, this is permitted if done in private. The clothes may not be washed in public, unless one’s livelihood will suffer severely.

May one wash children’s clothes?

  • Clothes of children who constantly soil themselves may be washed during the nine days. This is approximately until the age of five or six.
  • Clothes of older children (until bar/bas mitzvah) may be washed until the week of Tisha b’Av, if necessary.

May one wash adults’ clothes together with children’s?

No. Even when using a washing machine, one may not include adults’ clothes with children’s clothes.

Are there any situations when adults’ clothes may be washed?

  • A woman who is required to wear white during the seven clean days may wash her clothes and sheets if necessary.
  • A person who does not have clean clothes to wear on the Shabbos before Tisha b’Av may wash what is required on Thursday or Friday.
  • A person who has only one garment (of a particular type) may wash this garment when necessary until the week of Tisha b’Av. The same applies to a person who has many garments but they are all dirty. According to some opinions, such clothes may be washed in hot water without detergent, even during the week of Tisha b’Av.

May such clothes be hung outside to dry?

No, since this may arouse suspicion that one has done something wrong. The wet clothes should be hung indoors or dried in a machine.

May children’s laundry be hung outside to dry?

This is permitted. Since they are easily recognizable as children’s clothes, one will not be suspected of doing something wrong.

May one spot clean a stain on clothing?

  • If the stain is noticeable, one may clean it.
  • If the stain is not noticeable, one may not clean it thoroughly, but one may rub it with a damp cloth. If the stain will become permanent if not cleaned immediately, one may clean it.

May one spot clean a tablecloth?

Only if the stain will become permanent if not cleaned immediately, or if one has no other tablecloth.

What if a child soils his sheets?

One may wash the sheets.

May a woman wash a shaitel?

A shaitel is an item of clothing and may not be professionally set. If it is dirty and she does not have a clean one to wear, it may be washed until the week of Tisha b’Av. It is permitted to comb or brush a shaitel.

May one brush dusty clothes?

Yes. This includes a hat and shoes.

May one polish shoes?

There are different customs about this. One may polish shoes in honor of Shabbos.

May one do ironing?

Ironing is forbidden during the nine days. This includes Shabbos clothes.

Why is it forbidden to wear new or laundered clothing?

A person who has lost a close relative may not wear laundered clothes for thirty days. In a similar vein, it is forbidden to wear laundered clothes during the nine days as a sign of mourning. One may certainly not wear any new clothes during the nine days.

Must one wear dirty clothes for nine days?

No. Although it is forbidden to wear freshly laundered clothes, one may wear clothes that have already been worn for a short time. Therefore, a person should prepare the clothes that he wishes to wear during the nine days, by wearing them for a short time before Rosh Chodesh.

For how long must the clothes be worn?

Until the feeling of freshness has been lost. This is after approximately half-an-hour under normal conditions.

May one iron the clothes after wearing them for a short time?

No, since this restores the freshness.

Must one prepare Shabbos clothes before Rosh Chodesh?

No. The main custom is to permit wearing freshly cleaned clothes in honor of Shabbos.

May one wear new clothes on Shabbos?

  • New clothes of major importance may not be worn.
  • New clothes of minor importance (e.g. underwear, socks, shirts) may not be worn, unless one has nothing clean to wear.

Must one prepare underwear before Rosh Chodesh?

There are different customs about this. It is praiseworthy for a person to be strict in this matter, and prepare even these clothes beforehand. A person who feels sensitive about this may be lenient to wear such clothes even if they are freshly laundered, but only when necessary. This includes underwear, socks, and pajamas.

Must children prepare their clothes for the nine days?

Children from the age of nine should not wear freshly laundered clothes during the week of Tisha b’Av, and should prepare them beforehand.

What if one forgot to prepare clothes before Rosh Chodesh?

He should place them on a dirty or dusty floor to remove their freshness. If the floor is clean, he should tread on them to crease them. Alternatively, he may put them in the laundry hamper with dirty clothes for a short time.

May one prepare clothes by wearing them on Shabbos?

Since it is forbidden to prepare anything on Shabbos for the weekday, one may not wear fresh clothes on Shabbos specifically for this purpose. However, if one needs to undress on Shabbos, he may use the opportunity to wear different clothes when dressing again. Therefore, when dressing on Shabbos morning, one may wear fresh clothes, and save the clothes worn on Friday night for the following weekdays. The same applies if one goes to sleep during the day of Shabbos.

May one wear Shabbos clothes on a weekday?

No. Even if the Shabbos clothes are not freshly laundered, they may not be worn on a weekday.

From what time on erev Shabbos may one change into Shabbos clothes?

From mincha ketana. According to some opinions, one may change for Shabbos at whatever time one usually does.

Must one change into weekday clothes on motzai Shabbos?

According to some opinions, one should change into weekday clothes after havdalah. Other opinions say that this is unnecessary, and one may remain in Shabbos clothes until bedtime.

May one wear Shabbos clothes in honor of a bris?

The parents of the child, the sandek, the mohel, and the woman who carries in the baby may wear Shabbos clothes. According to some opinions, the grandparents of the child are also included. They should all change back into weekday clothes as soon as possible after the bris.

May one wear Shabbos clothes in honor of a pidyon haben?

The parents of the child and the Cohen may wear Shabbos clothes.

May one wear Shabbos clothes in honor of a bar mitzvah?

The parents and the boy may wear Shabbos clothes if the celebration is held on his birthday. Since one may not wear new clothes during the nine days, the boy must remember to wear his clothes for a short time before Rosh Chodesh. Clothes that require the b’racha shehecheyanu should be worn before the three weeks or on a Shabbos before Rosh Chodesh (see question‎53).

May one wear Shabbos clothes when going on a date?

Yes.

May a woman wear jewelry during the nine days?

Yes.

May one use fresh bed linen?

It is forbidden to change the bed linen during the nine days, even in honor of Shabbos. Therefore, one should change the linen two days before Rosh Chodesh, in order to use them before the nine days. A woman may change her sheets at the start of the seven clean days.

May one provide clean bed linen for visitors?

Yes. Similarly, a hotel is permitted to change the linen for guests who arrive during the nine days. Nevertheless, a person who is staying at a hotel for several days must request that his sheets should not be changed until after Tisha b’Av.

May one use fresh towels?

Freshly laundered hand towels and bath towels may not be used during the nine days. Therefore, one should prepare several towels before Rosh Chodesh by using them at least once after they have been laundered. If all the prepared towels became completely soiled during the nine days, it is permitted to use a fresh one. Also, a fresh hand towel may be used on Shabbos.

May one use a fresh tablecloth?

A freshly laundered tablecloth may not be used unless the tablecloth becomes completely soiled. A fresh tablecloth may be used on Shabbos.

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