Life in Israel: Go mop that floor with a squeegee…

I don’t even know if “squeegee” is the right thing to call it. Israelis might call it a magav, but I’m not sure about that. You know how the symbol for Capricorn is the body of a goat…with the torso of a man on top? Well, that’s sort of like what the magav is. It’s like a mop…with a giant squeegee at the end instead of an actual, you know, mop.

I think maybe I saw one of these things in America before – once – while growing up, like at our high school’s indoor swimming pool, to keep the deck dry. But here in Israel they’re in every home. I have one, too. But I use mine for just one basic purpose. Since my shower doesn’t have, uh, you know a tub or wall or door of any kind, but is really just a section of my bathroom “separated” off by a shower curtain, I use the magav giant squeegee to “coax” water that spilled outside the shower back into it and down the drain. (Maybe if I had a better magav than the one I bought at the 99-cents-store, it would be effective for this. But in my squeegee’s case, it’s more like a “suggestion” of pushing water back into the shower drain.)

What I just described is only the magav’s warm-up act anyway. What they’re really for is to tie, affix, attach spend ten minutes cursing and getting increasingly frustrated while trying to attach a rag Israelis call a smartut to the squeegee part. Then, you shlosh the thing back and forth across your floor in a parody of “mopping” and watch the rag smartut fall off the squeegee a million times. The North American brain will logically try to solve this problem: Did I not tie it correctly? Is the rag meant to be shoved in between the squeegee blades? Maybe there’s supposed to be a hole in the middle of the rag so you can slide it down the stick and it stays around the squeegee that way? Pointless questions really, when you realize this is just an example of Israelis’ take-it-or-leave-it approach to logic. Ask any of them how the rag is supposed to stay on and they’ll tell you, Oh, well, it really doesn’t stay on…you have to just keep picking it up after a little while and re-tying it again. Trying to explain how there are newer and easier ways to clean floors falls on deaf ears. They’ll immediately defend the magav thing and say, Oh, well, but nothing cleans as well as this. It is the best way to clean a floor. I would never use anything else but this. Why don’t you like it?


It didn’t matter, because I was biding my time until it arrived, anyway. See, I’ve never liked to mop, even with old skool American mopping ingenuity, which is like 50 million times superior to this magav mishigas. I was waiting until my (cue angelic music) Swiffer WetJet™ arrived from America. (Thanks, Mom!) The mopping Dark Ages are over, people!! And they have been for some time already. The (music again) Swiffer WetJet™ is simply the grooviest, handiest, easiest thing to handle since boys first discovered their puds. It’s a big stick (just like a mop, broom, or – oh, hell – even a magav), and at the bottom is a flat surface. Sold separately (this having been invented in America, of course) are disposable pads that velcro to the bottom. The whole thing is electric (battery powered), and the bottom part shoots out a cleaning solution from a (again, sold separately) bottle that easily affixes to a slot on the back of the stick. If it sounds complicated…then you’re an idiot. This device turns Paris Hilton into Martha Stewart. It’s so easy to use, and does such a good job at cleaning with no mess, that even a crystal meth addict with one of these could host a Tupperware™ Party, and the ladies from the Junior League wouldn’t blink.

I had my mom send me one specially from America. And I was so happy when it arrived, you would have thought I’d received a personal note from Madonna asking if I wanted to get a pedicure with her on Thursday. Yay, I’m released from primitive cleaning, and back living in the 21st century!

The Swiffer peeps have also done their take on the old-fashioned broom, but unless they start putting money in my pocket, I’m not gonna go there. Basically, the point of this column is that Israelis universally use an insanely helpless and frustrating piece of crap to clean their floors, and I don’t. I won’t; I can’t. (My OCD won’t let me.)


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  4. Jenny

    October 19, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    OMG….your story is hilarious!!! You know what I automatically thought you needed!?! The Sham WOW…I bet if you put that sucker on the bottom of a swiffer, it would soak up all the water from your bathroom floor! Do they have those there? Or will I have to send you some from the US???

  5. Scotty P

    October 19, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    Is this the Jenny from Fox 5 ???

    If yes, I’m so stoked you clicked over to read this! And I dunno what The Sham is, but I’m guessing it’s some infomercial shiz. Get me one for Hanukkah. :-)

    What’s the latest (and you can answer on FB) – the dream job turned out to be the hell job, so you were back at PKPR part time….and then what?

    xo !!!

  6. Lisa

    October 19, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    I can completely relate to your frustration! So much so, in fact that the chore of cleaning floors in our household has been handed over to Trevor. That’s right – I do EVERYTHING else – JUST so that I don’t have to go through the agony of reaffixing the smartut. Well, maybe there are some things that men are better at (like cleaning floors!) … Trevor managed to find an upgraded version of the regular magav – one that actually has a grip which slides down and holds onto the smartut – thus alleviating the need to curse, reaffix and repeat. So for anyone who doesn’t have s Swiffer WetJet give it a try:-)

  7. Birte

    October 20, 2009 at 7:12 am

    Very funny look at a way of Israeli life. I must have been living here too long, to even remotely want a Swiffer WetJet. I tried something like it, hated it and went back to the magav and shmartut. Nothing cleans like the magav and shmartut. You can really get into the corners, behind the doors and all those places where dust collect.

  8. Scotty P

    October 20, 2009 at 10:30 am

    Haha, Hi Birte, glad you liked the column and weren’t offended by it.

    It cracks me up to hear you say you prefer the Magav, but I’m sure if I used it for long enough and got skilled enough using it, I’d say the same thing. But for now – blech!

  9. mad scientist

    October 20, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    What you really need is a maid 40 nis an hour and no more doing dishes, cleaning rugs,bath and doing “sponja” and laundry and other highly intellectual tasks. and those who think it’s a waste of money I ask: would you be willing to do these task for 40 NIS an hour?

  10. Scotty P

    October 20, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    MS – NOW you are talkin!

  11. floor squeegees

    November 20, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    That is such a funny story…I never heard of it binging used in Israel like that

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  13. Lauren

    July 31, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    My kibbutz called it a “goomi”. I had no idea what to do with it either at first, so i scrubbed the floors on my hands and knees with the rag and a bucket of water. A woman supervising me saw what I was doing and laughed so hard I’d thought she’d have a stroke. She showed me how to throw water down on the floor, wrap the smartut around the goomi, cacha, and chick chack the work is done. I always thought it was a waste of precious water.

  14. Miriam Leiman

    March 8, 2013 at 6:09 am

    I really enjoyed reading your story about floor cleaning in Israel. I live here too and I’ve been going crazy trying to find a good alternative to the old smartut and magav method (which I’ve been doing for 32 years). The swiffer wet jet sounds good and it’s not too expensive. Where can I order this product online with shipping to Israel? Thanks for your help.

  15. Gnarlodious

    March 17, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    That’s pretty funny, but there is one word you forgot to use, ‘sponga’ (pronounced ‘spunja’). Normally used by saying “do sponga”, because the shmartut is really a towel, as is a magav, but the sponga is a sort of a sponge type thingie. Not exactly a squeegee, which is a rubber strip, this Israeli version of a floor squeegee is a dense foam more like a sponge. Intriguing linguistics!

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