Chatzitza for Netilat Yadayim
This is the approved revision of this page, as well as being the most recent.
General Rules of Chatzitza for Netilat Yadayim
- One's hands including the palm, back of the hand, and fingers must be clean before washing so that the Netilat Yadayim water reaches all parts of the hand.
- The general rules are that something which covers a majority of the hands is considered a chatzitza, interposition, to disqualify the netilat yadayim, even if he doesn't care to remove it. Additionally, something that covers a minority of his hands is considered a chatzitza only if he cares to remove it or other people would want it removed. However, something which only covers a minority of the hand and he doesn't care to remove it then it isn't a chatzitza as long as it isn't something which most people would want to remove.
- It isn't necessary to dry your hands before washing Netilat Yadayim unless they were wet from Tameh waters, this is, waters that came from less than a Reviyit and from a vessel.
- If a woman does remove her ring when she kneads dough she has to remove it for netilat yadayim.
- If a woman doesn't remove her ring to knead dough she doesn't have to remove it for netilat yadayim.
- If a loose ring was not removed one need not repeat the washing. 
Dirt and Mud
- Dried mud, wet mud from pits, and wet clay are all considered a chatzitza.
- Dirt underneath the fingernail where the nail is directly above the finger isn't a chatzitza since it only covers a minority of the hands and people don't care to remove it, however, dirt beneath the nail that extends beyond the finger is a chatzitza since people do care to remove the dirt there. However, dough beneath any part of the nail is a chatzitza since people would want to remove it.
- Because of this concern of chatzitza with dirt under one's nails for netilat yadayim some have the practice to make sure not to have long nails.  However, a long nail itself isn't a chatzitza.
- A nail which started to fall off is a chatzitza.
Bandages and Casts
- A scab which one doesn't care about removing isn't a chatzitza.
- A bandage which is sometimes removed is a chatzitza and needs to be removed for netilat yadayim.
- A bandage which is not removed at all times for medical purposes isn't a chatzitza. Even so, one should wash with a reviyit of water at one time so that there is no concern about tameh water going onto the bandage and then rolling off making one's hands tameh again. An adhesive on top of the bandage to ensure that the bandage won't come off is considered part of the bandage and isn't a chatzitza.
- Some say that if the bandage is on the palm or back of the hand but not on the fingers it can be left there and one should just wash the fingers.
- If the entire hand is covered with a bandage that can't be removed such as a cast then one should just wash the other hand with a bracha.
Paint and Ink
- If a professional painter who often has paint on his hands has dried paint on a minority of his hands it isn't a chatzitza. However, for someone else this would be a chatzitza. The same is true of a shochet if he has blood on his hands or someone who sells fatty meat if he has fat on them.
- Wet paint, wet mud, or loose dirt isn't a chatzitza because they dissolve in water.
- Ink on one's hand isn't a chatzitza if is absorbed in the sink and not clumped up on the skin.
- Shulchan Aruch OC 161:4 writes that netilat yadayim should include the entire hand including the fingers and palm. Even though Shulchan Aruch mentions an opinion that only the fingers need to be washed the Shulchan Aruch concludes that one should follow the first opinion. Mishna Brurah 161:22 supports this ruling except in extenuating circumstances he writes that one can rely on the second opinion unless the upper part of one's hand is dirty.
- Shulchan Aruch OC 161:1
- The Gemara Chullin 106b establishes that whatever is a chatzitza for mikveh is a chatzitza for netilat yadayim. The Mishna Brurah 161:1 explains that this halachah is modeled after the laws of chatzitza by dipping in the mikveh, which is a Torah obligation to dip in a mikveh. Regarding mikveh, the halacha is that if one has something covering most of his body and he wants to remove it is considered a chatzitza, an interposition, which makes him not fulfill his Torah obligation to Tovel. However, someone that only covers a minority of his body is only a chatzitza on a rabbinic level. Even though the institution to wash one's hands before a meal is only Rabbinic, the Rabbi's instituted the washing with similar laws to dipping in the mikveh. Even though the Rama 161:1 quotes an opinion that chatzitza isn't an issue by netilat yadayim he concludes that the halacha doesn't follow that opinion.
- Mishna Brurah 161:10 explains the Rama to mean that if he cares to remove something which covers a minority of the hand it is a chatzitza.
- Mishna Brurah 161:7 writes that if someone doesn't care about something which covers a minority of the hands and majority of other people would care about it, the Tur holds that it isn't a chatzitza but the Magen Avraham and achronim hold it is a chatzitza.
- Shulchan Aruch 161:1. Halacha Brurah 161:1 clarifies that it isn't even necessary to remove this chatzitza even initially.
- Or Letzion 2:11:9
- Shulchan Aruch OC 161:3, Mishna Brurah 161:17, Iggeros Chazon Ish 1:4. The Rama 161:3 adds that even though some are lenient in cases where the ring is loose, one should be strict even though technically water could get through between the ring an one's finger. Kaf Hachayim 161:32 says that if you have an expensive ring that you are afraid to remove, then you can first pour a Revi'it of water on the right hand where the ring is, then move the ring a little and pour again. It needs to be noted that when one moves the ring it has to be done with a hand that has already been washed. Rav Chaim Kanievsky (Daat Noteh no. 256, footnote 249, p. 110) says that this requirement to remove the ring is only when washing for a meal, and therefore if the ring is loose you wouldn't need to remove it for the morning Netilat Yadayim.
- Mishna Brurah 161:19 writes that a man who doesn't remove his ring to knead dough doesn't need to remove it for netilat yadayim but if it has a diamond and he is careful it before washing his hands so it doesn't get dirty then he needs to remove it for netilat yadyaim. Aruch HaShulchan 161:6 agrees. Therefore, Or Letzion 2:11:10 rules that if a woman doesn't remove her ring for kneading dough it isn't a chatzitza at all since the ring is something that only occupies a small area of the body and she doesn't care about removing it. He writes that this is true even if it is a diamond ring. Rivevot Ephraim 1:127 and Yalkut Yosef 161:3 agree that if someone does not remove their ring for anything, then they also would not have to for Netilat Yadayim.
- Mishna Brurah 161:18
- Mishna Brurah 161:6
- Rama 161:1, Mishna Brurah 161:9. Halacha Brurah 161:4 writes that there is what to rely upon to even leave the dirt beneath the nail that extends beyond the skin if the person doesn't care about it.
- Shulchan Aruch OC 161:1
- Mishna Brurah 161:3 quoting the Sefer Chasidim. The Ben Ish Chai (Shana Rishona, Kedoshim, no. 1) writes that for kabbalistic reasons one should be careful not to have long nails. Pri Megadim (Eshel Avraham 161:2) writes that to avoid having long nails one should cut his nails every Friday.
- Kaf Hachaim 161:4 writes that since kabbalistically it is negative to leave one's nails long they are considered a chatzitza. Furthermore, if they are long and going to be cut according to the Raavan quoted by the Shach YD 198:25 is a chatzitza. Pri Megadim (Eshel Avraham 161:2) seems to support that. Halacha Brurah 161:5 writes clearly that we are lenient since even for tevilah the mainstream halacha is that a long nail isn't a chatzitza (Shulchan Aruch YD 198:20).
- Shulchan Aruch HaRav 161:4. Halacha Brurah 161:7 writes that Sephardim can be lenient based on the opinion of the Bet Yosef YD 198:21.
- Rama 161:2. Halacha Brurah 161:12 adds that some say that even if he cares about removing it but he doesn't remove it because it is painful to remove the scab isn't a chatzitza.
- Shulchan Aruch OC 161:1, Mishna Brurah 161:5, Halacha Brurah 161:9
- Shulchan Aruch OC 162:10
- Halacha Brurah 161:9
- Halacha Brurah 161:9 based on Shulchan Aruch 161:4
- Halacha Brurah 161:10, Yechave Daat 2:19, Ben Ish Chai (Shana Rishona, Kedoshim, no. 24), Kaf Hachayim 158:4. Aruch Hashulchan 163:2 says that the bracha should not be recited when only one hand is washed even if it was done so for a valid, permissible reason.
- Shulchan Aruch OC 161:2, Mishna Brurah 161:12
- Mishna Brurah 161:13
- Shulchan Aruch OC 161:2
- Mishna Brurah 161:14
- Mishna Brurah 161:14