Tallit Set – How to Care for Your Holy Objects
Although the tallit are holy objects they do not miraculously stay clean all by themselves. Practicing Jews are required to keep the tallit clean and in good repair at all times. However, many worshippers are reluctant to wash their garments. Some seem to like that their tallit shows its age and use. Others are perhaps afraid that it will get ruined or fall apart if they attempt to clean them. Although they are delicate items, your tallit set should last for many years as long as you take good care of them.
A tallit set is made from many different kinds of fabrics. While wool, cotton, and silk are the most common, acrylic, polyester and rayon are also used. The only forbidden fabric is a combination of wool and linen. Outside of that, any kind of fabric can be used to make a tallit. You can put a tallit in a washing machine on delicate cycle. However, possibly the best way to clean a tallit at home is to hand wash it with a very mild soap like Woolite. Let it soak in water overnight so the soap can penetrate some of the stains. Then gently wash and air dry.
If you don’t feel comfortable washing your tallit then it is perfectly okay to take it to a dry cleaner. But while a dry cleaning facility is experienced in cleaning all types of fabrics, you want to go to one that knows how to handle items from a tallit set. A regular dry cleaner may not understand how important your holy garment is. Since most tallit do not have cleaning instructions attached, they may not clean it the correct way which could result in a ruined prayer shawl. A seasoned tallit cleaner will take the time necessary to make sure your garment returns to you clean and in one piece.
You should endeavor to clean your tallit set at least twice a year and more if you live in a warm climate. Always inspect your tallit for damage. One particularly troublesome area may be the tzitzit. Over time they do become unraveled which results in the tzitzit having the incorrect number of knots. This does not invalidate the mitzvoh and the tallit can still be used. However as soon as the problem is caught it should be fixed. Taking good care of your tallit honors yourself and your worship of God.
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