Is It Permissible To Do Laundry On Hol HaMoed
Is it permissible to wash clothes during Chol Ha'mo'ed, and is there a difference between washing by hand and washing by machine?
Chacham Bentzion Abba Shaul (Israel, 1924-1998) writes, based on the Shulchan Aruch, that one may not wash an adult's clothing during Chol Ha'mo'ed, and there is no difference in this regard between washing by hand and running a washing machine. The Sages forbade washing clothing during Chol Ha'mo'ed not because of the physical exertion involved (in which case we could perhaps distinguish between washing by hand and running a machine), but rather to ensure that people wash their clothing before Yom Tov. Had Halacha permitted washing clothes during Chol Ha'mo'ed, people might leave their laundry until Chol Ha'mo'ed, and thus begin the holiday with dirty clothing. The Rabbis therefore established a prohibition against washing clothes during Chol Ha'mo'ed, and there is no distinction between washing by hand or by machine.
An exception is made, however, for the clothing of young children, who frequently soil their clothing and at times require multiple changes of clothes in a single day. Chacham Bentzion Abba Shaul rules that the clothing of children aged six and younger may be washed on Chol Ha'mo'ed, either by hand or by machine.
If one is washing the clothes of young children, may he add some adult clothing into the machine to be washed together with the children's clothes?
Chacham Bentzion writes that since, as mentioned, the prohibition has nothing at all to do with exertion, and was intended strictly to ensure that one does not leave his laundry for Chol Ha'mo'ed, one may not wash adults' clothing even if he in any event washes children's clothing.
One may, however, steam clothing to release creases, as well as polish one's shoes, on Chol Ha'mo'ed.
Summary: One may not wash clothing on Chol Ha'mo'ed by hand or by machine, except for the clothing of children aged six and under. One who washes children's clothing may not add adults' clothing to the wash. One may steam clothing to release creases and polish shoes on Chol Ha'mo'ed.