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.