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.
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.
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:
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,
Customer Service Representative
Toll free at: 877-576-8808
Caldrea / Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day
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.
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.
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):
GF Colgate Palmolive products: