Celiac Spring Cleaning: Keeping Your Kitchen Gluten-Free
Spring has sprung! Well, almost. But its arrival is nigh enough that it’s time to start creating a plan of attack for (you guessed it) Spring Cleaning.
This is a well-known ritual observed by many and dreamed of, though rarely achieved, by everyone else. It’s a chore! We know! But there are some very good reasons to make this the year you finally get serious. For celiacs, this means getting down ‘n’ dirty in perhaps the most important room in your home: the kitchen.
If you’re relatively new to living with celiac, or your family is a mix of gluten-free and non-gluten-free individuals, then health is the number one reason to put a little elbow grease into cleaning this year. And even if this isn’t the case for you seasoned celiacs, well, it sure can’t hurt.
Gluten is a sneaky little bugger. It makes its way into nooks and latches onto crannies with startling ferocity. A quick scrub of the cutting board or counter with some hot water and dish soap just won’t do. In fact, you may want to steer away from dish soap when trying to get serious cleaning done. Savvy Celiac took a look at a study performed by Johns Hopkins University that examined the way allergen residue clings to hands and other surfaces that’s worth a read.
On that note: have you ever stopped to consider if the other cleaning products you use (both in and out of the kitchen) are gluten-free? Maybe you don’t have a sensitivity severe enough to notice right away, but these things have a way of building up. Or, if you have been feeling symptoms but haven’t been sure where to point the finger, this is a good place to start! Creating a clean slate with safe cleaning products and a good deep clean ensures you start spring on the right (healthy) foot. Jules Speaks Gluten Free got the skinny on a few everyday cleaning products that are safe to use.
Lastly, there’s more to a deep clean than taking a sponge to the inside of the sink. When was the last time you did an overhaul of the pantry? Things like gluten-free pastas, nut flours and other dry goods last a long time, but not forever. Especially if they aren’t in the right container. This is the perfect time to check!
Step 1: Sanitize your dish towels and throw away your sponges in favor of fresh ones. You can’t get a squeaky clean kitchen without squeaky clean tools. Make sure you keep any new sponges that may be used for cleaning gluten-y dishes in a quarantined area along with gloves designated for the same purpose.
Step 2: Clean out the catchalls in both your dishwasher and your sink. Set your dishwasher on a self-clean cycle and scrub the inside of the sink, particularly the drain where gluten can build up and stay trapped.
Step 3: Run your everyday dishes and utensils through a sanitize cycle on your newly cleaned dishwasher while you tackle pots and pans by hand using a cleaning solution. This is particularly advisable for folks who haven’t been gluten-free for very long (less than a year). Just because a pan looks clean doesn’t mean there isn’t residue. And as we mentioned earlier, hot water and regular soap may not be doing it. In some cases, you may have to consider replacing items altogether. Check out this savvy post by Angela’s Kitchen on clean-up for a gluten-free kitchen!
Step 4: Clean the stuff you never think to clean usually. Like light fixtures, the inside of the microwave, inside cabinets, under the oven hood, windowsills… this isn’t necessarily a must-do to prevent gluten contamination, but this is a Spring Cleaning checklist, right? The Gluten-Free Homemaker took on a similar deep-clean challenge you can read about here.
Step 5: Empty the pantry. Wipe down the shelves and evaluate the items that have been in storage for a while. Quality and nutritional value degrades over time, even in dry goods, so it’s a good idea to toss the stuff that’s past its prime. Here’s a good rule of thumb for common pantry ingredients:
? Corn meal: 2 years
? Grits: 1 year
? Corn starch: 2 years
? White flour: 1 1/2 years
? Whole wheat flour: 1 year
? Non-fat dry milk: unopened 6 months, opened 3 months
? Dried pasta: 2 years
? Egg noodles: 9 months
? White rice: 2 years
? Brown rice: 1 year
? Flavored or herb rice: 6 months
? Dried beans: 2 years
? Dried peas and lentils: 1 year
? Yeast: use-by date or freeze indefinitely
These times can vary, of course, depending on how these items are stored. To ensure a longer shelf life and limit the possibility of cross contamination in pantries that store both gluten-free and wheat/grain foods, consider investing in clear, air-tight storage containers. They’re reusable, refillable and easy to organize. Plus, you can add dates to things like flours to keep track of how long you’ve had them. HGTV did a little write-up on their favorite pantry organizers here.
Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the oh-so-important need to restock delicious, ready-to-eat pantry essentials like instant oatmeal and individual packets of granola. Oh hey, we make those!
This should just about cover it! Remember: you can never be too careful. A great golden rule in preparing a gluten-free area is to clean absolutely everything. And if you can’t remember if you’ve cleaned something, clean it twice.
For more helpful lists and how-to’s, see the links below. Happy dusting!
More Helpful How-To’s
? Six Steps To Making Your Kitchen Gluten-Free
? Gluten Free Series: Kitchen Equipment, what can stay, what can go
? How to make (and Keep) Your Kitchen Gluten-Free
? Steps to Safely Share a Kitchen with Gluten and Gluten-Free Eaters