The secret to keeping your tzitzit clean and untangled

Over a year ago, at LimmudNY 2008, Yoni, one of the caterers, wondered aloud to me about why I wore tzitzit, but no kipah. It was a pretty standard conversation. At Limmud, it’s a conversation I have four or five times daily. At school, it happens at least once most days.

But my conversation with Yoni took a different turn, pretty quickly. He remarked that my tzitzit were remarkably clean and untangled.

The other day, I was in the snack bar here at school. Some girl I’ve never spoken to in my life asserted to me that I must be a Super Jew because her dad is a Super Jew and he wears tzitzit. The conversation then took it’s normal turn, towards why I wear tzitzit, but no kipah. Then, she remarked that my tzitzit were remarkable clean and untangled. She said that her dad rarely washes his.

Yesterday, somewhere else on campus, this guy Josh, who I kind of know, says, “Since when do you wear talis?” I told him that I’d been wearing them for going on three years and that he just hadn’t ever noticed before. “Do you wash it?” he asked.

So here, at long last, is my secret to keeping your tzitzit clean and untangled:

I own about ten sets, all of mine are made of synthetic atheltic mesh material, but the material for the talit doesn’t really matter. I ¬†never wear one set for more than three consecutive days. When I run out, I wash them in the washing machine. To keep the tzitzit from coming undone and getting tangled up with each other, I put each one in its own mesh delicates bag. But I don’t machine dry them. If you do that, the small tangles and kinks that do occur in the tzitzit in the washer will get stuck that way. I hang dry them after going through each fringe and making sure there are no tangles.

8 Responses to The secret to keeping your tzitzit clean and untangled

  1. Jenny January 30, 2009 at 11:57 am #

    That is exactly how I keep mine clean and untangled. While I only have 3 sets and wear them for more than 3 days in a row (unless it is the summer and I am actively sweating), I have definitely found that air-drying and untangling the tzitzit keeps them much nicer. I figured that’s what everyone did.

  2. davidamwilensky January 30, 2009 at 1:00 pm #

    I figured that’s everyone else did too, Jenny, but all of the comments I’ve been getting about lately say otherwise.

    Also, can we talk about how WordPress has decided that some post on some blog about the Super Bowl is a related post?

    • Yosef Rabin August 6, 2009 at 2:45 pm #

      I put my tzitzit in one big mesh bag, then I clip the tzitzit together and they come out fine.

  3. Jessica January 30, 2009 at 3:18 pm #

    Dear David,

    Reading about your Jewish laundry habits is particularly adorable, in an intellectual way of course.


  4. Ben Slobodkin February 7, 2011 at 6:36 am #

    Thank you very much for sharing your secret. People sometimes ask me and I don’t have any good advice to offer.
    But why do you write that it doesn’t matter what material the tallit is made of? Of course it does! The Shulchan Aruch states only a wool garment is obligated to have tzitzit according to Torah law. Based on the Rema, however, Ashkenazim hold that a cotton garment is also required to have tzitzits. Whether a tallit katan undershirt or a mesh tallit katan is obligated is a matter of debate. For more info, see my tallit, tzitzit and tefillin blog.

    • David A.M. Wilensky February 7, 2011 at 11:57 am #

      Of course it does to some people, Ben. It just doesn’t matter much to me.


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