Should You Worry About Gluten in Your Dish Soap or Shampoo?

The world can be a confusing place for the newly-diagnosed gluten intolerant soul. Not only do you have to adopt a whole new diet with a steep learning curve, but the first time you see a non-food item labeled gluten-free it may send you into a panic. Gluten-free makeup, toothpaste, lotion, dish soap, glue, paint, playdough — where does it all end? And since you’re not actually eating any of these things, does it actually matter?

Well, that depends. Items like lipstick and toothpaste are basically impossible not to ingest in small amounts — and they’re both items in which gluten can hide if you don’t carefully check the ingredients.

Other cosmetics get a bit more tricky. Lots of lotions and shampoos use oats or wheat germ oil to nourish the skin — and theoretically, simply putting them on your skin shouldn’t hurt you if your problem is that you can’t digest gluten properly.

That being said, there is a form of celiac disease called dermatitis herpetiformis which causes painful skin rashes, and it can be triggered by external contact with gluten. Some people have a wheat allergy on top of a gluten intolerance and experience skin irritation when they use these products. And of course, there’s always the possibility that a little shampoo or lotion will end up in your mouth and give you the typical digestive symptoms. If you’re worried about any of these issues, it pays to use cosmetics you know are gluten-free.

Other products like dishsoap can be even more confusing. Obviously you aren’t eating it, but is it possible that soap contaminated with gluten during processing could leave a residue on your dishes that could make you sick? Well, maybe. One study on wheat allergies found that soaps using hydrolyzed wheat protein could trigger anaphyalxis in severely wheat-allergic patients eating off the dishes later, so it’s possible gluten could be left behind. Some people claim it doesn’t make a difference, while others swear by gluten-free cleaning products.

There’s one time it always pays off to look for a gluten-free version, however — and that’s when you’re dealing with a small child. Craft supplies ranging from playdough to fingerpaints often have gluten ingredients in them, and even if a child isn’t purposely eating the products, it’s likely they’ll accidentally get some in their mouths. Even if they try to wash their hands after touching an unsafe glue or paint (or heaven forbid, papier mache!), they might have bits caught under their fingernails that can end up in their mouth later and make them ill.

As a general rule, if something seems to make you sick with the same kind of symptoms you’d get from ingesting gluten, stop using the product for a little while. If the problem clears up, use a brand confirmed to be gluten-free instead. Your long-term health is worth it!


Related Stories:

8 Things You Need to Know Before Going Gluten-Free

Is Your Makeup Gluten-Free?

Is Going Gluten-Free The Right Choice For You?

Photo credit: Kate Sumbler via Flickr


Amanda Wright
Amanda Wright2 years ago

Oh good grief. I don't know if this is true or not but it sounds like a lot of waffle to me. I'm a bit more than just a BIT skeptical. I mean unless you're eating soap, drinking shampoo and not rinsing the soap off your dishes.......sorry, but I just don't believe it

Christine Stewart

If you are very allergic to gluten, then this is very useful, and not a fad!

Shalvah Landy
Past Member 2 years ago

Interesting article.

Carole R.
Carole R2 years ago

No allergies for me so I need not worry.

Amy L.
Amy L2 years ago

Has anyone seen "The Blob"?

Teresa W.
Teresa W3 years ago

especially if you drink shampoo :-)

Elena T.
Elena Poensgen3 years ago

Thank you :)

Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra4 years ago

Thank you Julie, for Sharing this!

Jink Huge
Jink H4 years ago

Very interesting!

Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran4 years ago