How to Thoroughly Clean a Gluten-Free Kitchen

Decontaminating a kitchen to make it gluten-free can be daunting—but critical for anyone who is gluten-intolerant. A single bread or cracker crumb contains a lot of gluten molecules. Whether your kitchen is completely gluten-free or you compromise and keep a few foods made with gluten, you need to thoroughly clean every single surface after you sort through food, utensils, and cookware.

For your kitchen to be a safe haven for gluten-intolerant people, you must wipe down every surface and clean it with soap and water before you restock the pantry, fridge, and freezer. Baking uses a lot of powders (flour, baking powder, spices, and so on) that can drift in the air and land on just about every available surface.

A thorough kitchen cleaning takes some time, so don’t try to rush this process. Ordinary household dust is different in the kitchen; it can contain gluten from wheat flour, slicing breads, and cookies and cakes. Though keeping your kitchen dust-free is impossible, make a clean start and get rid of as much dust and grime as possible before you reorganize and restock the shelves and cupboards.

When you’re deciding what to clean, remember that grease attracts and holds dust. Any surface that’s even slightly greasy is a possible source of gluten. So clean everything using gluten-free cleaners (yes, these products are important too — try Mrs. Meyer’s household cleaners), rinse with water, and dry thoroughly before reassembling your now-spotless kitchen.

For a really thorough kitchen decontamination, you should clean the following:

  • Cabinet and drawer faces: Wiping off obvious drips and spills from cabinet faces is easy, but over time, a thin layer of grease accumulates on these surfaces, and flour dust can stick to that grease. Wash down with a mild soap solution, rinse, and dry.

  • Ceiling fan blades: Just think of all the gluten particles a ceiling fan can fling around the room! Wash the fan blades and the light fixture, and wipe down the fan casing.

  • Cookware and bakeware: Scrub all utensils free of crumbs, baking spray residue, and grease residue. Be especially careful with items that have cracks or crevices.

  • Cupboard and drawer handles: Handles are easily contaminated by sticky fingers. Wash every handle carefully.

  • Floors and countertops: Obviously! Also wipe down baseboards and windowsills.

  • Garbage disposal: Clean this by running ice and cut-up lemons through it. Then run water for a few minutes through the disposal while it’s turned on.

  • Inside all drawers: Silverware drawers, especially, can hang on to crumbs and flour dust. Take all items out of the drawer, run them through the dishwasher or wash them by hand, and then wipe down the cupboard and let it dry.

  • Light fixtures: Dust can accumulate in light fixtures. Take the fixture down or take it apart and thoroughly clean every piece before reassembling it.

  • Sink strainers and sink plugs: These items can hold a lot of gunk from everyday use. In fact, buy a new sink strainer and plug for your disposal. Most hardware stores stock them.

  • Toaster and toaster oven: Crumbs can lurk in the cracks and crevices of these appliances. Clean them according to the manufacturer’s directions and wipe down the entire appliance.

  • Tops of kitchen cupboards: This is another place where dust and crumbs can accumulate. If you keep plants or decorative items on top of cupboards, take them down and clean them, too.

After reading a list like this, which really drives home the potential for cross-contamination, many people choose to keep their kitchens completely gluten-free. But that’s a decision only you and your family can make.

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