When we think of hidden sources of gluten, we think of food. However, there are many household products that contain gluten. And, it’s just not eating gluten that you need to worry about. Someone may accidentally ingest something you wouldn’t think has gluten, like little kids who like to eat Play-Doh. Or maybe you kiss your wife after she brushes her teeth, and you have a reaction to the gluten in her toothpaste! Finally, very sensitive people have to be on their guard to avoid inhaling gluten particles – and not just at the local bakery either.
Here are 5 hidden sources of household gluten cross-contamination that may surprise you!
Pet food. Even quality pet food may contain grains like barley that contain gluten. Surely after the family pet chows down, she’ll wants to give you a big smooch to show her gratitude for such a yummy meal! Nothing like doggie kisses or kitty licks containing gluten to give you a rash – or worse. You can also inhale gluten when scooping out dry cat or dog food from the bin you keep it in. Shop around for a grain free pet food, one that contains rice, or one that’s labeled gluten free. There are several on the market to choose from. Don’t forget to check their treats for hidden gluten sources, too!
Your toaster. You may have separate cutting boards and utensils for gluten free foods. Or maybe you’re just making sure to clean everything very well. (Don’t forget to rinse your sponges and brushes very carefully, too!) But if you’re using the same toaster to cook up gluten free and regular breads, you’re setting yourself up for gluten cross-contamination issues!
Use the old toaster for the non-gluten free members of the family and buy the gluten free folks a nice new toaster. Make sure you can tell the difference between the two – different models or different colors. If you make a lot of special gluten free items for just one or two members of the family, maybe a toaster oven is a better energy saving choice.
Vitamins, supplements and medications. Many manufacturers are beginning to label their medications and supplements gluten free. If you don’t see such labeling, call the manufacturer or consult their website. Also, work with your pharmacist to inquire about prescription medications. Unfortunately, brands change formulations over time, so periodically check labels and manufacturer websites for updates.
Personal care items like makeup, shampoos, lip gloss, toothpaste, sunscreen, and powder. This is the case when the products one family member uses can affect everyone. Imagine mom putting on a non-gluten free lip gloss and kissing her gluten allergic child – and that child breaking out in hives! Or the lotion one child used just before getting into bed affecting another when she crawled in there with her during story time. It’s best to remove non-gluten free personal products products from the household when you have someone with a severe gluten allergy or celiacs.
Non food items like play dough, glues, stamps, envelopes, paints, dry wall, wallpaper paste, tile grout, charcoal briquettes, and spray starch. According to the manufacturers of Play-Doh, it does contain wheat. Most glues like Elmer’s are made from synthetic materials. According to their FAQs page, all Elmer’s glues are gluten free, but their finger paints are not.
However, you should avoid homemade glues, such as those made from flour and water, and paper mache projects because of the possibility of inhaling too much airborne gluten or developing a rash from coming in contact with gluten on your skin. Also, some people are nail biters and could accidentally ingest gluten while working with these materials. (The glue could be under their nails even after washing their hands.)
As to the glue on stamps and envelopes, the solution is to purchase self-sealing envelopes and peel-and-stick stamps.
If you’re doing home renovations, you should wear a particle mask to avoid inhaling gluten particles from cutting up dry wall or removing old tile grout and wallpaper paste. (You should wear a particle mask anyway! Inhaling any of that kind of stuff isn’t a great idea even if you’re not gluten sensitive.) If someone else is working on your home, have them vacuum up at the end of the work day. If you or your children are very sensitive, you may want to stay at a friend’s home or hotel while renovations are being done. In addition, if you’re sensitive to any sort of airborne contaminates, installing good filters in your HVAC system and regularly changing them out will help, too!
Many charcoal briquettes contain wheat starch, which can contain gluten. Instead, you can buy Kingsford briquettes since they use corn not wheat starch. Or you can use 100% pure wood charcoal instead of briquettes. Finally, you have an excuse to buy that fancy gas grill you’ve had your eye on, too!
If you iron your shirts using a spray starch, check the label for gluten containing ingredients. An alternative is making your own with cornstarch by adding a heaping teaspoon of cornstarch to 2 cups of cold water. Stir until dissolved. Then transfer to a spray bottle and spray on clothing before ironing. If you have your shirts professionally laundered ask what they use for spray starch. If they can’t tell you or if it contains gluten and you’ve very sensitive, you probably should stop having your shirts professionally laundered. Even if you don’t have starch used in your shirts, gluten cross-contamination will be a problem.
What steps are you going to take to eliminate gluten cross-contamination at home?
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Udi's Gluten Free. The opinions and text are all mine.