Wash, Rinse, Milk, Meat


Someone told me something interesting yesterday and I have a feeling it isn't true. She said that if you wash milchig and fleishig dish towels in the washing machine in hot water and they actually have milk and meat on them (which is very likely), you're cooking them together and shouldn't be doing so. I thought it shouldn't be a problem because:

  1. You aren't getting any benefit from the mixture.
  2. If it's an Israeli or European machine the soap probably hits the towels before the water heats up (although that wouldn't apply in an American machine, where the water starts out hot).
  3. You'd have to be awfully hungry to eat anything stuck to a dish towel (although a starving person might want it). Therefore both the meat and the dairy foods should be considered inedible and should no longer count as food.
  4. Even if they are considered edible, they are certainly unappetizing and no one will eat them.

Is it a problem?


The Torah only discusses cooking milk and meat together. This is forbidden even if one has no intention of eating the food.

It is forbidden to cook improperly slaughtered beef together with milk even though someone who ate the cooked mixture would not be violating the restriction of eating meat cooked with milk.[1] The Ramo discusses different scenarios of cooking milk and meat in the same hot water even if one was not planning to benefit from it at all and considers it a violation of cooking milk and meat together.[2] So the first reason you mentioned is not relevant.

If the amount of water is sixty times the amount of milk, it would not be a violation of the Torah’s commandment, but still should not be done.[3]

The second reason you mentioned is very relevant. If the soap was added before the water reached yad soledes bo, as you suggested, then the milk or meat became inedible and there was no violation of cooking the two together. This is because they both lose the status of food once they are inedible.[4]

The third reason is irrelevant. The food particles on the towel may not have decayed to the point that they are inedible for an animal. If they are not spoiled, they will still be considered meat and milk and the normal laws will apply. And there is no basis for the notion that if a mixture of meat and milk will never be eaten there is nothing wrong with cooking it. It makes no difference whether or not anyone will ever eat the food. The main prohibition is on cooking. In fact, the prohibition of eating is dependent upon the prohibition of cooking the foods together.

Although there is a Torah prohibition on eating milk and meat together, it is not stated explicitly. The law is derived from the repetition of the prohibition of cooking them together. Since the prohibition on eating is derived from words indicating a ban on cooking, the only Biblical prohibition on eating milk and meat together applies to mixtures that were cooked together. Thus, if someone eats a cheeseburger (assuming the meat and cheese were not grilled together), he is only in violation of a rabbinic restriction.

BookID: 2 Chapter: 87

[1] Eating it is obviously forbidden due to the issur of neveiloh (a kosher type of animal that was improperly slaughtered). But the added prohibition of eating milk and meat cooked together or even of benefiting from the mixture does not devolve on the neveiloh (Rambam, Ma’achalos Asuros 9:6, and commentary on Kerisus, chapt. 3). See also Dagul Mervovoh, Y.D. 87:3.

[2] Y.D. 87:6.

[3] Se Chasam Sofer, Y.D., at the end of responsa 92.

[4] Aruch Hashulchon (87:33). See also Shulchan Aruch (95:4).

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