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Washing hands after scratching scalp or changing a daiper


  1. Is it necessary to wash netillat yadayim every time I scratch my head, or is it sufficient to wash before tefilloh or eating? I have an itchy scalp, and would find myself constantly running to wash my hands all day, or sitting in discomfort trying not to touch my head.
  2. I am also at home with my infant all day, and I’m wondering if I need to wash netillat yadayim every time I change his diaper? If I do in fact need to wash, is washing my hands in the bathroom sufficient for either or both of these instances, or is a kli required?



  1. The reason why we have to wash our hands after scratching our head is because of the sweat and dirt that our hands came in contact with while scratching. Therefore it is sufficient to wash your hands before saying a bracha, davening, or talking words of torah. Practically, (and hygienically) it is better to wash them right away so you won’t forget, but halachically you don’t have to. It is important to note that after touching a covered part of one’s body, we don’t have to wash with a kli etc., and sticking your hands under the tap will suffice. However before davening you should wash your hands with a kli.

As a side point, we only have to wash our hands after actually scratching, but not when we touch or even wipe our hands on our hair. Also, if someone scratched his head in a place that the hair is not usually covered, (in the peyos area or for single girls etc.) he doesn’t have to wash when scratching unless under the hair it is very sweaty.

  1. After changing a baby’s diaper if you touched the baby’s skin in the diaper area or any waste, you have to wash your hands the same way as when touching a covered part of our body. If you wiped the baby with a tissue etc., even though you didn’t touch him or anything dirty you should also wash your hands. However if you were careful not to touch any part of the baby’s skin in the diaper area, (which is usually covered) nor any of the baby’s waste, you don’t have to wash your hands. For example, when changing a wet disposable diaper, and you were careful just to open the tabs, pull out the diaper and replace it without touching the baby, or any wetness of the diaper, you don’t have to wash your hands.

It is preferable not to wash one’s hands in the bathroom, however if one doesn’t have another option it is permitted. Washing one time even without a kli is sufficient.

Best Wishes



  1. Shulchan Aruch 4-23 with Mishna Berura, M:B 4- We wash our hands after scratching our head even though our head may be very clean, (right after a shower). The reason is because of the rule of “lo plug”, not to differentiate, since very often a person’s head is sweaty. See Halichos Shlomo ( Tfillah) 20-15. Mishna  Berura 162-58, Shevet Halevi 2-2, Pischei Teshuvos 4- 24.
  2. Shabsa Diyinuka 5-7 pg. 45 ftnt. 29.

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