Aliyah Homemaker: Washing floors the Israeli way

You've made aliyah. How to navigate day to day life in Israel

You’ve made aliyah and have come to realize there’s more to adjust to than learning Hebrew and finding your way around.  Even familiar chores have a new spin to them. Activities like doing dishes or laundry have products and methods you’ve been using for years, however washing your floor is a whole new ballgame.  While I wasn’t an avid floor-washing homemaker in the USA, I knew my tools and knew what to do.  In Israel it’s a bit different.

Firstly there’s no mop. Instead, you have what is basically a broom handle with a squeegie on the end.  Then you need water, liquid floor cleaner made for sponja,, and a floor rag aka “smartoot”.  There are a few different methods I have learned from native Israelis on how to “do sponja”.  Get used to the term because one generally doesn’t “wash the floor”.

Let me share Sponja Method 1 with you:

  1. Fill a bucket with water and 1/4-1/2 capful of sponja liquid
  2.  Dip your smartoot into the soapy water and wring out the excess
  3. If your smartoot has a hole in the middle, slide it over the pole of the sponga stick.  If there is no hole in the smartoot, you can make a small snip in the center.  If you use the smartoot as is without a hole, drape it over the squeegie part of the sponja stick like a shawl.  **NOTE** some sponja sticks have an adjustable claw (for lack of other description) that will hold the smartoot in place, thus no hole necessary.
  4. Push the sponja stick across the floor in the same motion you would if you were cleaning a window.  If the floor is really dirty or the there is a lot of square footage to cover, rinse the rag out, dip back in the soapy water, wring out and continue the process. If you don’t, you’ll just be spreading dirty water across the floor.

5. Let the floor air dry.

A photo says a thousand words.  A video even more. So…I created  SPONJA: THE VIDEO demonstrating the method I just described.

As mentioned, there are other sponja methods. There’s the “pour water and soap directly on the floor method” with a few different options of disposing of the water.  There’s the “scrub the floor with a broom and soapy water” method (analogous to brushing teeth) then pouring a bucket of water on your floor to rinse and squeegie the water out the door.

There’s no one “right way” do get the job done though many will think their way is the “right” way.  Bottom line, you want a clean floor and you’ll chose the method like the best.

For more helpful aliyah tips and advice visit

Do you have a favorite method for doing sponja? Leave a comment below.  (Outsourcing help doesn’t count!)

About the Author
Known as The Klutter Koach, Karen Furman is a home organizer and decluttering expert. She made aliyah from Baltimore in 2010, and lives in Ramat Bet Shemesh with her husband and six children. For more aliyah advice, helpful hints, and tips check out The Olim Files at
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