This is a Mop

After making aliyah, most of the life skills I'd acquired over 25 years of semi-competent existence were wiped out. I felt like a movie princess suddenly forced to live without her maids. How do I get an appointment with a doctor? Where do I go to rent a movie?? What should a lease look like? How do I pay taxes? Where do I write the return address on a letter?? What do people eat for dinner? And what should I wear if it's 20 degrees outside?!

So one thing I had to learn was how Israelis mop floors. I have yet to see a Swiffer or sponge mop here, and I only saw a traditional mop with spaghetti strands when a Brit provided one as a theatre prop. Instead, we have these metal poles that grip towels between their plastic teeth and wide base.

They are easy to use, really, except that getting the towel to stay on confused me at first. I attempted to wad both ends underneath the clamp in a ploy to approximate a Swiffer, but all four corners wouldn't fit. Then I think I let the towel drag behind the base of the mop, towel wistfully tickling the floor as I dragged the foam-metal base, squealing, along my poor tiles.

The secret to using these mops is that you put the base down ON the towel, as you see in the picture above, and push the towel around with the pressure from the handle. (My husband's aunt, the most meticulous housekeeper ever, just slings towels on the end of the thing without clamping. This, I believe, is an advanced skill.)

My next challenge-- getting the mop wet. I tried to dip the whole head in a bucket with the towel on, but it was too wide. I needed to take the towel off before wringing it off into the bucket. Then I tried to wash the dirty towels in my washing machine, but these are special cheap floor-washing towels (which you buy as a pack in the supermarket), so they ended up beading off into bits of lint. My husband claims the towels are supposed to be disposable. I still wash them, but now I mostly just rinse and hang.

The thing is that I now like this system better than a Swiffer or a sponge mop. The towel is nice and large, so it cleans my floors quickly. The towels last longer than those disposable Swiffer papers, and by reusing them, I save money.

A lot of people panic about all these changes when they make aliyah and try to bring everything with them from America. My advice would be to suck it up, and stalk an Israeli to see how she gets through her life. Yes, you'll feel like an idiot for a little while-- you'll have to ask a lot of questions about things your mother taught you to do when you were eleven years old. But it's worth it, because now I feel like an Israeli when I mop the floor, and I'm not begging Swiffer papers off of every visitor who comes to see me from America.

Now don't ask me about how to be TRULY Israeli and use a squeegee to clean the floor. That one still scares me. (I think it stands on a higher plane of Israeli-ness.)

If anyone reading this made aliyah, what life skills did you have to learn?


  1. It took me ages to learn the stuff. There's a big problem now, since they made the "magav" larger/wider without increasing the size of the cloth. I love it that I can just wash the cloth after each cleaning. I do a shmatta shuffle to dry the floor with a clean dry one.

  2. haha... a shmatta shuffle! I love it!

    Is it really bad that I usually let my floor air-dry? I wish I could claim that I do that to be water-conscious ;)

  3. Well I can tell I'm going to learn a lot from your blog... Thanks for the link as well. After planning my Aliyah for so long, having my paperwork done at this point is a relief, I just need to actually get my "stuff" in order and clear out the house... but not too soon, I still have to live there.

    Keep up the good work and will look forward to future reads.

    FYI, there is a Mosaic Club in Yerushalayim. I hiked with them before and will be involved with them when I get there.

  4. Thank for finding my blog so now I can enjoy yours! Now I just have to talk to the Israeli government to find out how they stole my mopping idea. Whenever I spill stuff, I just throw water on top of it and smush it around with my foot. What can I say, I'm lazy?
    Good luck with your blog and with making aliyah!

  5. Haha... I love it, Shtetl Fab... I'll have to try that technique. :) Our younger cat would probably lick up the water for us!!

  6. Hi Maya....seems that all of us immigrants love the local mops. Here's my take...enjoy. : )

  7. where do U get it in the USA ???

  8. I am also looking for one in the U.S. A friend highly recommends this style mop. I haven't been able to find anything online just your blog with the photo. Does this mop have a name, manufacturer or something can help me find it online?

  9. thank you so much for the mop tip

  10. my method is to sweep thoroughly, then pour a small amount 8-10 oz of soapy water on the floor, and use the squeegee to first swish it around and then move it from one end of the room to the other. Then you go over it with a clean schmatta, and all is well.

  11. I can't believe i'm the only one who doesn't go insane with this mopping technique. My ritual, and believe me, I've had SERIOUS lessons, and can't learn it - first, sweep. Then get your "diaper from 100 years ago" and soak in hot bleachy water. Splat on floor, swoosh a bit, till it either gets stuck between table legs or the edge of the fridge, scream about how stupid this method is, while trying to reposition the diaper back on the squeegy. Repeat for another 12 seconds, until the diaper falls off again. Bend and try to replace, while not dropping the stick and having it crash and break something on the way. Scream again - try not to scream at other humans, they don't seem to like that. Notice how dark and gross and hairy the diaper is now, and wonder out loud why they haven't moved into the 19th(?) century yet. Three hours later, all chairs still propped on couches and tables, wonder if a drinking problem might solve this trauma.
    When I do finally master the smooth, relaxed swooshy moves 'real" israelis mop with, I'll truly feel Israeli. Until then, I'm just faking it.

  12. What is wrong with the following method?

    I sweep.
    I sprinkle/pour detergent on the floor around the room and in dirtier spots.
    I pour hot/boiling water where there is detergent.
    I let it sit for a minute, or go straight ahead with sweeping/scrubbing the floor with a firm broom.
    I collect the water with a shovel that has a long handle, and the rubber stick (squeegee?).
    I run over the floor with a shmatta or clean floor rag.

    - If I don't feel the strength or cheshek then i do a quicker version.


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