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Are your household cleaners gluten free? Does it matter?

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Have you ever wondered if household cleaners are gluten free? You know, detergents, soaps, sprays … and does it matter? It’s an interesting question, and one I chose to tackle during the busy holiday season, for some reason.

Are Your Household Cleaners Gluten Free? Does it Matter?

The holidays are a crazy time for everyone, and now that January is here (ok, it’s already mid-January, but I’m doing the best I can!), I am hoping that I can make serious headway into the stacks of papers covering my desk. I got a new computer (mine was threatening to die at any moment) and two giant (to me) monitors, so I thought I was set – ready to tackle the backlog of work and resolved to have a clean desk!

Did I mention we also got 2 kittens for Christmas? Yeah. So, one or the other of them is now on my lap, lying across my typing arms, and the other is invariably sitting smack dab in the middle of my desk, right in front of my monitor! Not the picture of efficiency I’d envisioned, but at least someone’s happy!

Well, all this brings me to one of these stacks of paper — one I’ve been working on for awhile and could never seem to get all the way through. I picked the stack to tackle after I read a recent post from my friend Linda over at The Gluten-Free Homemaker, challenging everyone to do a really thorough cleaning of their kitchens.

I had started a post to answer questions on gluten-free cleaning agents last year, but had never gotten around to finishing it, so I figured, I’m leaving on a plane in a few hours and haven’t packed, so this is the perfect time to scratch this off my to-do list, right?

A few readers have inquired about rumors they’d heard that dishwashing detergent contains gluten. This could be a problem for anyone with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. I’m not so concerned if there was gluten in my laundry detergent, as I don’t typically lick my clothes, but my forks? Yes. (Note- if you are gluten sensitive or have other allergies, you could have issues with gluten-containing soaps, shampoo, laundry detergent, lotions and the like – you’ll know because it will bother your skin; celiacs must ingest gluten to get sick from the contamination). I highly recommend Molly’s Suds laundry products for gluten-free and chemical-free products. See my review here.

While we’re on the subject, what about our counters? I’ve been known to put food on my counters now and again, I don’t want to clean those surfaces with a cleaner containing gluten either (and with cats now, I’ll be washing my counters even more frequently!). If you have a kitchen that still has gluten in it, this is another concern as well. Amy at the Savvy Celiac wrote an interesting post on “washing away” gluten in your kitchen. Comparing some studies done on removing peanut protein, she speculates that some household cleaners would do better than hand sanitizer or even soap and water to wash surfaces clean of gluten.

Bottom line though: if you have celiac disease, you must INGEST a.k.a. EAT gluten for it to trigger the autoimmune reaction that is celiac (dermatitis herpetiformis also manifests topically and some say they also have reactions to topical exposure, but experts differ on identifying these triggers). If you have gluten sensitivity, wheat allergy or would just prefer that wheat, barley and rye not enter your life in any form, you may want to look deeper into what’s in your cleaning products. Anyone can have a topical reaction to just about anything — that’s what makes us unique. So, if you’ve noticed you’re breaking out after cleaning the kitchen or doing laundry washing the car … consider that there may be an ingredient in your cleaning agents that is bothering you. But unless you’re putting it in your mouth, experts agree that it will not cause a celiac reaction.

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If you’re also looking to reduce or eliminate animal products or shop cruelty-free, here’s a good article detailing how to do it. While cruelty-free and vegan products are often identified on the labels, those certifications don’t necessarily mean that the products are gluten free — you may still need to check with the manufacturers if it’s not clear from the label or their websites.

Household Cleaners Without Gluten

With that in mind, and for those of you would like to avoid gluten in your cleaning products, I have done some dirty work for you (see the pun I used there?) and found several products which do not contain gluten. Ingredients change, so when in doubt, contact the manufacturer directly.

I started my search and emailed many companies for answers. (I always suggest that folks do this about any product – food or otherwise – if they have questions. You will get a satisfactory answer from the companies, or you won’t, and that’s your answer.)

By way of example, here are a couple of helpful emails I received from companies in response to my inquiries:

Dear Jules,

Thank you for your interest in Mrs. Meyer’s, and for taking the time to write us. I apologize for the delay in getting back to you. Our products are wheat and gluten free. That being said, the equipment used to manufacture our products is not dedicated equipment, so there is a very slim chance of cross contamination. Good sterilization and separation practices are employed to avoid cross contamination.

Because our products are richly fragranced, and comprised of plant sourced ingredients, we would not say that our products are “allergy free”. While allergic responses to our products are rare, people can be allergic to anything. We are happy to provide dish soap samples of our different fragrances for you to try before you buy if you are interested. I hope that this information is helpful. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

With clean and kind regards,

Krista Yurik-Zientara

Customer Service Representative

Toll free at: 877-576-8808

Caldrea / Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day

T 612-436-7309

F 612-371-9995

[email protected]

www.caldrea.com / www.mrsmeyers.com

cascade

Hi Jules,

I’m glad you reached out about Cascade! If we add gluten, wheat or wheat extract directly to a product, it will be listed in the ingredients on the label.

Still, we cannot give a 100% guarantee that trace levels of gluten are not present. Many ingredients used in our products are purchased as a raw material and we do not have information on the make-up of these raw materials or if they have been in contact with other materials before they arrive at the plant. 

Also, if it has been added to the perfume (at a very low level) by one of our suppliers, this will not be listed in the ingredients. Like many companies, we often purchase the scents for our products from external suppliers, and the components of these scents are proprietary information belonging to the suppliers. As a result, it is possible that a very small amount of gluten may be present in our products which contain fragrances.

Kind Regards,

Samantha

P&G Team

Hi Jules,

Thanks for writing to us.

I’m happy to say that all our cleaning products are gluten free. The only products that we have with any gluten ingredients would be our Feminine Care pads (pantyliners and maxi pads). They use an absorbent material derived from wheat. Please know that the Feminine care products are made in a different facility all together.

Hopefully this can help you find the right products for your home. Please let me know if I can do anything further to help.

Sefton Hirsch
Customer Service
Seventh Generation

The gist of what I’ve learned is that there are some really good, gluten-free options for cleaning agents out there. As with any product, formulas can change, so to be doubly sure, check for yourself before purchasing. Below is a partial list of gluten-free cleaners — when it comes to my counters and my dishes, these are the ones I’ll be choosing.

(Note: if you’d like to MAKE YOUR OWN gluten free cleaning products, here’s a great article with recipes from Rodale). One reader commented on my Facebook post that she uses orange peels soaked in white vinegar to clean everything…even as a fabric softener. So get creative and make your own if you’re concerned about reactions to any store-bought cleaner.

Gluten-Free Cleaning Products (gathered from company websites and direct responses to my inquiries):

GF Proctor & Gamble products (check package label to be sure there are no changes to ingredients first):

  • Cascade Complete® Gel with and without bleach
  • Cascade Complete® ActionPacs
  • Cascade Complete® Powder
  • Complete® with Bleach Powder
  • Crystal Clear® Rinse Aid
  • Cascade with Dawn® ActionPacs
  • Dawn® Gel
  • Dawn® Powder
  • Dawn® Dishwashing Detergent
  • Tide® Laundry Detergent (liquid or powder)

GF Colgate Palmolive products:

  • Crystal White Octagon Lemon Dish Liquid
  • Ajax Cleanser with bleach
  • Murphy’s Oil Soap

Does it matter whether your household cleaners are gluten free - gfJules

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81 thoughts on “Are your household cleaners gluten free? Does it matter?

  1. If you or your child were allergic to peanuts would you use peanut based products to clean your home and dishes? Of course it matters and I just don’t understand why in the celiac community these debates keep popping up. My child has celiac disease and I prefer to keep her entire environment free of what is poison to her. So sick of seeing the comments “If you don’t ingest it, you won’t have an issue.” That may be good enough for your home but not for mine. I like to protect my daughter. Thanks.

  2. Please note, that if you have Celiac or Gluten sensitivity, it DOES matter that your shampoo doesn’t contain wheat germ, as it causes psoraisis and scalp issues along with dry hair. I even got temporary alopecia from DH, Celiac, so I do not put anything containing wheat germ, Tocopherol or sodium laurel sulfate on my locks. My dermatologist told me that anything you put on your hair, always makes it to your scalp, and from there it goes into your bloodstream, please correct or do some more research on this, it could literally cause someone to continue a practice that is making them sick, all because they dismiss their skin and scalp care products.

  3. Pingback: How To De-Glutenize Your Kitchen | RylieCakes

  4. I am celiac and it burns my skin and causes dermatitis really bad sores.
    Also per tired site they are gluten free and no contamination

    • There are any number of lengths one COULD go to on a gluten free diet. Whether you want to find gluten free laundry detergent, cleaning agents, etc., is completely up to you. Dishwashers and washing machines are designed to rinse the cleaning agents out and off, so they should be fine to use, or at least any residual gluten would be well below risky levels. That being said, those with allergies and others who simply feel safer choosing cleaning products that are gluten free, would like to have the information so they can choose gluten free products in all aspects of their daily life. I hope that helps!
      ~jules

  5. Jules,
    As celiac is new to me, I am trying to determine which gluten free bloggers to follow, who are the most helpful. And, I must say it bothers me quite a bit that you have not addressed the question being asked here repeatedly about touching or breathing in gluten being dangerous. This being a critical issue, and your unwillingness to address it, I will be moving on.

    • Hmmmm. I’m not sure what exactly I did to excite your ire, but I will say in my defense that I respond to all comments personally, so it can take some time to get through them and I occasionally miss some. I am certainly not above missing comments here and there, as there are over a thousand comments on my blog and over 450 recipes plus numerous articles (like this one) — I haven’t even stopped to count how many articles and posts I have apart from recipes! That being said, let me assure you that I’m not evading answering a legitimate question.
      If you are concerned about airborne gluten, you should talk to your doctor. If you have celiac disease, the only proven effect from gluten is when it enters the gastrointestinal system — starting with the mouth. That being said, people with gluten sensitivities or allergies may have negative effects from touching or breathing in gluten, and it’s been proven that some people have BOTH celiac AND gluten sensitivity. In those cases, everything is on the table.
      In all my travels and speaking to others with gluten sensitivity and those with celiac over the 14+ years I’ve been working in this community, I’ve heard from some who are made sick by touching or breathing in gluten. Plenty of others are not. It’s something everyone has to figure out for themselves, and it’s certainly a very real problem for some people, but they are in the minority of those suffering from gluten issues. If you have true celiac and not gluten sensitivity, doctors will tell you that you can touch gluten and even breathe it in without issue, but that’s something you’ll have to experiment with on your own if you’re concerned. Also check my article on gluten in cosmetics for more links to research on this issue.
      ~jules

  6. I do have Celiac disease and can have a reaction triggered by laundry soaps, dish soaps and othe stuff I would not usually “put in my mouth” please remove that sentence for cthe safety of your readers. I even have to take extra bedding when I travel.

    • Yes! You are completely right to say this. I’m celiac and have exactly this problem. My life was made miserable by using washing powder which contained gluten. I cannot take any kind of hand wash that contains citric acid or tocopheryl acetate and other wheat derivatives. I would urge the author of this piece to remove that sentence. Many celiacs will you it is wrong in their cases.

    • I have celiac disease. I can’t eat gluten, but I also can’t touch it. I have reactions just from touching it. Achy and swollen joints, bloating and stomach issues. I also break out in a terribly itchy rash that sometimes blisters. However, the reactions that I get from touching it are not quite as severe as the reactions I have from ingesting it.

    • Donna, I am like you. Can you tell me what you use for laundry soaps? I’m trying to figure out if the fabric softener i have is GF. I have DH, and it is still bad even with eliminating gluten for over a year.

  7. More on the personal care listing (soaps, handwashing, moisturizers, etc.), I just got this reply from California Baby regarding Gluten Free products.

    Thank you for your email. Our entire product line is gluten free. Each ingredient is carefully checked and suppliers must provide gluten free documentation. Because we exclusively manufacture California Baby products in our FDA registered, certified organic Los Angeles facility, there is no cross contamination from other brands/products.

    Hope this is helpful – please feel free to contact us with any other questions.

    Thanks!

    Sue
    Brand Integrity Manager
    cid:[email protected]
    http://www.californiababy.com
    5933 Bowcroft St., Los Angeles, CA 90016
    Direct: 424-672-6835
    Main: 310-815-8201 x 205

  8. Pingback: Gluten Free Cosmetics - Necessary? - Gluten free recipes - gfJules - with the REAL Jules

  9. Hi. My son just received a celiac diagnosis and I’m at beginning of the overwhelming of finding hidden gluten sources. I called Cascade and at first rep said no ingredients were gluten. I pressed further stating the gluten sources can be harder to discern on labels and could she check with another. She came back on line and said Cascade products do have gluten source.

    Your original final article above states that it is safe. Maybe you corrected that in subsequent replies to commenters?

    • My son had celiac and our family doctor, who was big into herbs and alternativespices, cured him of it. She said celiac is caused my an adrenal malfunction. My son took adreno tropic by progressive labs for about six months and his celiac disappeared. That was 15 years ago and it has never come back.

  10. In the pursuit of trying to get healthy after being diagnosed with celiacs, I spent many hours contacting companies and trying to find it if my everyday personal care and home care products were gluten free. I tried many GF products that were terrible and didn’t work well. After many years of being sick and not being ar to figure out what was making me sick, I was finally introduced to Ava Anderson Non Toxic. They are a local company (providence, RI) that makes all natural, organic, environmentally friendly products. Their entire line is gluten free! They carry a wide variety of personal and home care products that are fantastic. I quickly realized I needed to also avoid toxic chemicals that are in almost every brand of products. These toxic chemicals that we expose ourselves to everyday increase the inflammation in our bodies. This inflammation leads to other autoimmune diseases and could possible be the reason why we have Celiacs in the first place. Toxic chemicals and gluten can be found in almost anything from shampoo to dish soap to baby wipes.

      • I totally disagree with the experts. I think everyone should pay attention to their own body. I can touch something that has been contaminated with gluten and I am sick for the day. Stomach swells up, achy joints, grouchy. So I completely disagree with the experts.

      • My son got diagnosed at 1. Was getting above levels of 100ttg (gluten, NOT allergy). We buy everything gluten free. However, our GI even said to go through non-food items as it can be “inhaled” and swallowed into your intestinal tracts. Several textbooks I have read on celiac disease also say that you can “breathe” in. Not to mention several websites talk about how kids can’t do paper mache’s in class beause you are “inhaling” gluten in. But, reading your comment above and knowing that my son is getting over 100 ttg in our gluten-free house is due to non-food items that he is not eating I know and have confirmed for myself that yes you can breathe in gluten, it’s the same thing as eating it. And being in the medical field I also know that people have had to quit their jobs with celiac disease due to breathing in gluten and getting damage through their biospies to test that (because, it’s their job… at a bakery, or in construction, etc. Yes construction the plaster on walls!) Reading your comments make me kind of mad because had I read your blog before the other textbooks, etc. my son would have died from “not eating” his gluten. Yes, he stopped growing and everything from non-food gluten sources that he wasn’t “eating”.

        • KP, I can identify with your frustrations of having a gluten free home only to have your child continue to have ttg levels over 100. That has been my situation for almost 4 years. You did not indicate in your post if you found any resolutions – did you learn about any cleaning or other products that made a difference? I’d love to know what you’ve found and how it relates to any of the informations jules has presented. Thanks, [email protected]

  11. HI there! I have read that all Method products are casein and gluten free. They have it in their FAQ section…stating specifically that it’s safe for those with celiac. Will have to call soon to make sure this is still accurate…