Household Cleaners Clarification

One of our readers recently e-mailed us an excellent question about our recommendation in the book to use a household cleaner to clean food allergens off of tables and countertops. Although we do not have the time and resources to answer specific health-related questions, we are posting the question (with our reader’s permission) and our reply as an explanation of why we do not recommend specific household cleaners or cleaning agents.

Question: I am reviewing your book for our food allergy support group – it is great! Thanks for putting it together. I have a question re: Chapter 10 (p. 178), which mentions household cleaners being effective in cleaning countertops etc. In Chapter 3 (p. 61), it mentions dishsoap not being so effective for cleaning. I commonly clean with dishsoap, vinegar & baking soda – now I’m wondering if I need something stronger. If you can point me to any resources that will help me find the answer I’d really appreciate it. My son has allergies to egg, tree nut and fish – so I want to make our home as safe as possible for him. I especially appreciate the chapters on how to live at home with your allergies, and on getting ready to send your child to school. This book makes it seem manageable when sometimes it is overwhelming.

Thanks, Andromeda Bruckman-Sulja

Answer: Your question inspired a fairly long discussion, meaning it is a very good question. We do have to keep our recommendation general, however. We don’t want to go beyond recommending a “household cleaner,” because of what it could potentially lead to concerning 504 Plans at schools. The point we want to make is that any household cleaner combined with elbow grease and appropriate rinsing will do. You don’t want to simply disinfect the area (to kill bacteria and viruses). You want to remove the allergens.

The only important point that we do want to get out is that for cleaning hands, disinfectant gels and foams are not effective.