One of the most important things when it comes to living a gluten-free lifestyle is making sure that we feel safe in our home. When I and some of my children were first diagnosed with celiac disease, I had no clue where to start! It was daunting thinking about how to go about cleaning out my gluten-filled home, so today I am going to take you on a journey of what I did to ensure our home was a safe place for my family. The best place to start is going to be in your kitchen! After all, this is where most of the gluten is going to be hiding. Today I will go over how I would go about cleaning out your kitchen, pantry, and fridge if I were starting from square one.
Gluten hides everywhere
Think of gluten like a glue — anything that gluten has touched in the past could still have gluten on it. It is a great idea to go through every cupboard individually clean it top to bottom! Then assess each item and scrub it, put it in the dishwasher, and do everything you can to make sure there is no residue left.
This is especially important when it comes to baking dishes and utensils. Depending on your budget and what you need for peace of mind, you can choose to buy new items or to wash items on a sanitizer setting. If you can’t replace everything, maybe start with replacing these items that are hard to fully clean of gluten:
- Teflon pans with signs of wear
- Wooden spatulas
Focus on one area at a time
No matter where you start, it is important to only take on a simple section at a time. Take it cupboard by cupboard, shelf by shelf. No need to overwhelm yourself by doing it all at once. It’s OK to spread this process over a couple of weeks or to enlist the help of family, friends, or neighbors. Here is a simple list of tasks that will help you successfully clean out each area.
- Start by emptying the shelf or drawer.
- Wipe it down with a clean sponge.
- Wipe off or deep-clean each item.
- Check the ingredients of any food item, separating them into piles of gluten-free and gluten-containing products.
- Assess each item for cross-contamination, or the likelihood of gluten residue being left behind.
Create a gluten-free zone
Once you have your pantry items separated into two different piles — gluten free and gluten-filled products — it’s time to create a designated place for your gluten-free items that is clearly separated from the gluten-containing items.
When deciding where to place the gluten-free items, I recommend top shelves, so gluten-filled crumbs don’t fall on them from above. Anything with gluten in it, should be double bagged, and kept lower. Another great tip is to label gluten-free items so that everything is consistent and identifiable for anyone in your family. We have designated gluten-free cupboards and shelves. Everyone in my family knows that only gluten-free products belong there, so it makes it easy all around.
Another great tip is to label gluten-free items to make it easy for your other family members to tell what is or isn’t safe for you. This has been helpful when we have had babysitters or extended family over so other people can clearly identify what is safe as well.
It is so comforting to know you have a safe place where you don’t have to worry about crumbs or cross-contact. Maybe you start off with only your bedroom, one shelf, and one kitchen counter, and then expand from there as you can. Start small and give yourself the space you need to relax and feel safe.
I hope you have found these tips to be helpful. You got this!
Want to learn more about avoiding cross-contamination? Read “Tips to Prevent Cross-Contamination” and “8 Surprising Things You Need to Do to Avoid Gluten Cross-Contamination.”