Your home should be your “safe space” — the place where you and your family can be most relaxed, knowing that you’ve minimized the risk of ingesting harmful allergens.
Cleaning is a valuable strategy in preventing exposure to allergens. Some food proteins are stubbornly resistant and do not break down over time. In a 2013 study published in Allergy, Asthma, and Clinical Immunology, peanut butter was spread on a table and left uncleaned. After three months, peanut protein was still present on the table. It takes active and frequent cleaning to remove trace allergens and prevent cross-contact. Here are some guidelines to help you properly clean to remove allergens.
Before cooking or eating, make certain your hands are clean. Washing with bar soap or liquid soap is an effective way to clean protein from your hands. Commercial hand wipes also remove allergens. However, washing hands with plain water or rubbing hands with non-detergent, alcohol-based hand sanitizer will not remove allergens reliably. Conceivably, hand sanitizer does not remove the allergen, but instead spreads the protein around.
Countertops and Fixtures
To clean like a professional, follow this three-step process to remove food allergens from countertops and fixtures:
- Wash: With warm, soapy water and a single-use towel, wipe down all surfaces.
- Rinse: Fill a spray bottle with fresh water. Spray surfaces that have been cleaned with soapy water. Wipe with a clean, single-use towel.
- Sanitize: With single-use, sanitized towels or wipes, polish surfaces and let them air dry.
Other effective surface-cleaning methods include commercial cleaning wipes that contain detergent or all-purpose detergent spray cleaners used with paper towels or clean cloths.
Washing dishes by hand with a solution of dish soap and water will remove food allergens. However, a sponge or dish cloth that comes into contact with allergens will not be allergen-free. Consider designating a “safe sponge” that is used only on dishes that are free of your allergens.
A dishwasher is also a dependable way to clean your dishes. When you empty the machine, check the washed dishes for any solid food debris, and rewash any dishes that may still have food particles on them.
For more information, download FARE’s “Creating a Food Allergy Safety Zone at Home” booklet.