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Mom of a newly diagnosed 5 year old - need some help

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Hi All. I'm brand new to the forum and to celiac disease. My 5 year old daughter was diagnosed a few days ago. I'm cleaning out our kitchen and house as we are all going gluten free. We want to try to prevent as much cross contamination as possible. I've been reading various postings and things online about what to keep and what to get rid of. Most was pretty straight forward but there are a few things that I've seen conflicting information on. I was hoping you folks here might be able to help me. 

The first is dish towels... I try to be as green as possible so I will use dish towels to clean up spills before reaching for paper towels if the spill isn't totally gross so,,,, I have used my dish towels to clean up flour spill and other food spills before. I can't figure out if I'm just supposed to put them through the sanitize cycle in my washer or if I need new towels. 

Second is my cast iron... I cook most of our food with it so it has had gluten containing products in it. I have read that I should get rid of it and I have read to put it through the oven on the self clean cycle and re-season it... My oven says I can't leave the racks or anything else in the oven during the self clean cycle... so my question is... which is correct - ditch it or clean it? And if the answer is clean it any ideas how I get around the limitations of my oven? For the two larger pieces I use most often I have no problem replacing those as I bought them. I have a few small pans that are heirloom and I would love to keep using them. But if necessary I'll just set them out as decorations.

Third... my knives. They are stainless but have plastic handles. I've read so much about gluten getting into crevices... I'm wondering if I have to replace the knives because of the plastic. Can gluten be stuck where the metal enters the plastic? Or is absorption into the plastic an issue in and of itself?

Thank you for the help. My daughter was diagnosed three months ago with type 1 diabetes... we were just getting a handle on that when this came along too... I know we'll get to a new state of "normal" but in the mean time we need all the help we can get.  =) 

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Welcome Mom!  I am sorry that your daughter has been diagnosed, but soon she will be feeling better.  Her diabetes will be easier to control too.  

Okay, these suggestions are just my opinions as I can not scientically prove cross contamination.  ?  Sometimes piece of mind is invaluable.  

First, do not work with wheat flour in the house.  Flour can remain in the air for up to 24 hours.  It falls all over the place.  I was a heavy baker back in the day.  I made all my bread, including hamburger buns.  Now, I bake just gluten free.  It is safer for me and my husband.  In fact, our house is now gluten free since my diagnosis.  Our daughter gets  her gluten fix at school.  Combined households are possible, but there is nothing like feeling safe in your own home.  We had a combined household before my diagnosis, but my kid was too small to help in the kitchen then.  I maintained all control.  Kept my hubby safe back then.  

Use paper towels for big spills.  I compost, do organic gardening, ride my bike....I get it, but health safety trumps being environmentally friendly.  Sponges are the worst (up there with toasters and colanders).   

I used to use my Grandfather's frying pan.  I put it away (along with our ancient lamb cake mold (not cast iron) we used at Easter).  You can clean pieces in the clean cycle of your oven,  there is a risk of damage, so best not to clean sentimental pieces.  I just just bought new cast iron.  

The knives should be just find.  Just clean them well. 

It is a lot to figure out.  It is best to err on the side of caution.  I recall calling home when I first moved out to ask about an opened jar of mayonnaise my roommate had in the frig and if it was still safe to eat.  My Dad answered.  He asked if it was worth a dollar to get food poisoning.  It was not.  I have carried that with me all these years.  

I am sure other members  will  have great suggestions too.  

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Cyclinglady,

Thank you for the info. I really appreciate it! I think you're dad had wonderful advice. That's how I've been approaching cleaning out our kitchen. If there's any doubt our daughter's health isn't worth it. 

My questions about the dish towels... I had meant that previously, before we were gluten free, when I used flour in the past, I used to wipe up spills with them. I was wondering if that previous exposure meant that they really couldn't be fully cleaned and I should just buy new. Any thoughts on that? I've resigned myself to future paper towel purchases for messes. Haha. =)

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Hi-

I have pondered those recommendations as well and here are my thoughts.

Yes, your cast iron skillet, the little crevices in wooden spoons and plastics knife handles all have traces of gluten currently. However, that is a finite quantity right now. As you cook and use these items with gluten free foods, the little traces that are there will cook into the food and eventually if you stop adding more into the crevices (i.e. cooking with gluten/flour), there will not be any more there!

Therefore, you do not need to throw these items away.  Clean them well now and stop using gluten in the house and you will be fine. It is difficult to clean the crevices of a cast iron skillet though. SO, clean it well once and re-season it.  Then cook with it several times.  Don't let your daughter eat that food - it will probably still contain a bit of gluten (but trace amounts). After 2-3 uses, there will be no measurable gluten in the food.

Biochemically, gluten can only be destroyed at 900 degrees F or higher.  Bleach and soap will not destroy it just remove it. So there is no way to "kill" it, you have to clean things well to get rid of it.  Even the self-cleaning oven cycle does not get that hot in most residential ovens, so using that will not really help.  Just scrubbing and soap and water!

I have a biochemistry degree and it is consistent with the teaching at the UCLA Celiac center (I ran this by them to make sure they agreed!)

As for dish towels, I just wash them often. I didn't buy all new ones. And I do use paper towels to clean the small part of the kitchen where I allow gluten in (to make the kids sandwiches for school)

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Either wash them several times (gluten is sticky...it is not about sanitizing) or pop for some new ones.  I kept my dish towels, but got all new dish cloths for washing dishes and wiping up spills.  

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2 minutes ago, TexasJen said:

Hi-

I have pondered those recommendations as well and here are my thoughts.

Yes, your cast iron skillet, the little crevices in wooden spoons and plastics knife handles all have traces of gluten currently. However, that is a finite quantity right now. As you cook and use these items with gluten free foods, the little traces that are there will cook into the food and eventually if you stop adding more into the crevices (i.e. cooking with gluten/flour), there will not be any more there!

Therefore, you do not need to throw these items away.  Clean them well now and stop using gluten in the house and you will be fine. It is difficult to clean the crevices of a cast iron skillet though. SO, clean it well once and re-season it.  Then cook with it several times.  Don't let your daughter eat that food - it will probably still contain a bit of gluten (but trace amounts). After 2-3 uses, there will be no measurable gluten in the food.

Biochemically, gluten can only be destroyed at 900 degrees F or higher.  Bleach and soap will not destroy it just remove it. So there is no way to "kill" it, you have to clean things well to get rid of it.  Even the self-cleaning oven cycle does not get that hot in most residential ovens, so using that will not really help.  Just scrubbing and soap and water!

I have a biochemistry degree and it is consistent with the teaching at the UCLA Celiac center (I ran this by them to make sure they agreed!)

As for dish towels, I just wash them often. I didn't buy all new ones. And I do use paper towels to clean the small part of the kitchen where I allow gluten in (to make the kids sandwiches for school)

Great advice!  So glad you had a chance to talk to experts at UCLA.  I have to laugh though.  My grandfather's frying pan was crusted, literally, when I inherited it.  No worries as far as bacteria as I always preheated it.  There was no way I could scrub off the crud.  I guess I could have gone to a sandblasting company to ask them to remove it, but since it was over 75 years old , I thought  it would break.  I assume he never really washed it well.  Sounds gross, but I guess we make do when camping in the desert and we have survived.  He probably had a better gut bionome than me!  

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Thank you so much for the info! Makes me feel much better armed to tackle this change. =)

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Just take a soapy toothbrush to the part where the knife handle meets the stainless of the knives. Put them in the dishwasher & go on with your life. I mean, when you think about it, who sucks on the part where the handle meets the stainless? Gluten doesn't crawl. Thank goodness!!!!!!

Wash the dish towels a few times & carry on & be happy.

 

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