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Make The Rest of Your Home Gluten-Free

You Need to Clean Out More Than Just Your Kitchen

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Updated January 24, 2012

If you've just been diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, you've probably focused first on making your kitchen gluten-free. This is the right approach, since most of the gluten lurking in your home likely is in your kitchen, and getting rid of potential problems there will help you tremendously.

But you may be surprised to learn some of the other tricky places gluten can hide in your house. Here's a guide to making the rest of your house as gluten-free as your kitchen.

1. Shampoo, Conditioner and Hair Products

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Manufacturers love to put gluten derivatives into their hair products - many include wheat (triticum vulgare) and oats. You'll also frequently find gluten as an ingredient in hair spray and other hair "hold" products.

Many celiac disease experts argue that you don't need to eliminate these, because you don't swallow them — you use them on your hair. That's true. But if you ever accidentally get soapy water in your mouth while showering, or if you have a habit of touching your hair and then your mouth, you risk accidentally glutening yourself.

Personally, I don't think it's worth the risk, and I've been able to find great gluten-free shampoo and other hair care products to use that don't include gluten — we use Suave and some Jason products at my house, but there are many others.

2. Toothpaste, Cosmetics and Skin Products

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If you use lipstick or lip balm (or if you kiss someone who does), you definitely need gluten-free lipstick. You also should check your toothpaste and mouthwash for gluten and change to gluten-free toothpaste and mouthwash, as well, since you'll inevitably swallow a little bit of these.

You may have to call the manufacturers in some cases to make sure products are gluten-free, since gluten-containing ingredients aren't always obvious on the label.

If you use cosmetics or lotions, I'd strongly recommend using gluten-free cosmetics, since anything on your face potentially can get in your mouth. Again, there are many good gluten-free products available, and you should be able to find some that suit you.

3. Supplements and Prescriptions

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Manufacturers frequently use gluten products as fillers in both over-the-counter supplements and prescription medications. Again, these ingredients aren't always obvious, and you'll probably need to call the manufacturer to see if the product is gluten-free or not.

In the case of new prescription medications, always have your physician specifically mark the prescription "gluten-free - do not substitute," and follow up with the pharmacy to make certain those instructions were followed. You may also need to call the manufacturer to make certain the product is gluten-free. (For more on this issue, see my article on FDA Seeking Comments on Gluten In Drug Products.)

As for over-the-counter supplements, many different brands now include specific "gluten-free" labeling and some companies have sought gluten-free certification. Therefore, stick to labeled gluten-free vitamins.

4. Children's Art Supplies

Colorations

Many children's art supplies contain gluten grains, since they're considered "non-toxic" ingredients (to everyone but the gluten intolerant!). Play-Doh is one example - it's made of wheat, and it's particularly dangerous to small celiac children who put their hands in their mouths frequently.

It's possible to make a gluten-free Play-Doh alternative with rice flour, and Crayola Model Magic clays are gluten-free.

Some paints (especially finger paint) also contain gluten, so be careful to choose gluten-free varieties. Discount School Supply's Colorations brand (which also makes a gluten-free Play-Doh alternative) includes many gluten-free options.

5. Drywall and Building Supplies

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If you're renovating your home or even just doing some minor repairs, you should know that some of the products you may use contain gluten ingredients.

For example, some brands of drywall and almost all of the compounds used to conceal drywall seams ("mudding" compounds) contain wheat as an ingredient, as do the spackle repair compounds used to fix small holes in walls. Gluten also can be found as part of the glue in some plywood, especially interior-grade plywood and pressed particleboard, and makes up the bulk of most wallpaper glues.

When you cut, sand or even just work with these products, you'll be breathing (and swallowing) gluten dust, and that can lead to a horrible glutening. Wearing a full HEPA respirator (not just a dusk mask) can help, but you'd be better off leaving very dusty home repairs to someone else. For more information, see my tips on avoiding airborne gluten.

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Celiac Disease & Gluten Sensitivity
  4. Coping with Celiac Disease
  5. How to Make The Rest of Your Home Gluten-Free

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