One week after my first judging session for the freefrom food awards and I have learnt another allergy lesson, and this thanks to the amazing care and attention from Michelle, Cressida and Katherine.
Having someone on the judging panel with real allergies, and not just one, but many, posed a few logistical, safety and process problems for the freefrom management team. They tackled and overcame all with ease. I was made to feel completely included and at no time felt that my allergies were at risk or that I was causing hassle.
Almond in washing up liquid
They even checked the washing up liquid, which contained almond essence! Since my real allergies are to nuts and dairy, and not to my knowledge to almond we figured this would be OK. I’ve eaten almonds and not had an allergic reaction, but I do still avoid them on the whole due to cross contamination. I have also heard of a case where almonds were moulded from peanuts. Why would anyone do this? Well almonds are fairly expensive whereas peanuts are fairly cheap. Some food manufacturers will do anything to make a product cheaper.
However if you have an allergy to almond, both Earth Friendly and Fairy have an almond variety so it could be something to watch out for. If you used washing up gloves and rinsed carefully you’d probably be OK, but would residue from dishes washed in this liquid contain enough allergen to set off an allergic reaction? It poses questions about everywhere you eat then, which washing up liquid do they use? Will there be traces on the dishes? Am I just being paranoid here?
Can someone be allergic to washing up liquid?
So what is in normal washing up liquid? Can someone be allergic just to the normal soap varieties? The Ecologist focuses on Fairy liquid and examines the ingredients in its mild green variety which is supposed to be kind to your hands, right? Read
“Behind the label – Fairy liquid” for a list of known allergens in this product. Reading this I wouldn’t be surprised if lots of people were allergic to many washing up liquids. I always wear my non-latex washing up gloves because my hands are sensitive and I get eczema from too much washing up, perhaps this explains all that… A good excuse to get out of the washing up I think!
Dairy in washing up liquid
I then remembered that one of Ecover’s washing up liquid’s contains dairy. I have known this for some time and always buy the variety that doesn’t, but I wonder how many people know this.
This is what Ecover say about this product on their website:
“Our Camomile and Marigold Washing Up Liquid is the only product in our range which contains a small percentage of animal ingredients, i.e. milk whey. Milk whey is a bi-product of the cheese industry and would otherwise be thrown away. All our other products are suitable for vegans.
We add milk whey to our Camomile and Marigold Washing Up Liquid to ensure that it is extra kind to the hands. People who suffer from skin allergies or eczema can use it without putting on gloves.
Lemon and Aloe Vera Washing Up Liquid is an excellent alternative for those who prefer not to use a product containing milk whey.”
What they don’t say here is whether people with allergies to dairy should use it. I use their aloe vera washing up liquid but this still irritates my hands a bit so I always wear the washing up gloves and always rinse well.
Here are the ingredients of Ecover’s Aloe Vera washing up liquid: “Aqua, Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS), Lauryl Polyglucose, Sodium Chloride, Citric Acid, Parfum, Limonene, Hydrolized Wheat Gluten, Aloe Barbadensis Gel, Citral, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol.” I know I’m allergic to limonene and also worth noting is that it contains wheat gluten – though hydrolisation should render it allergen free could someone still react? Isn’t SLS also a known allergen? I have never had a problem using this washing up liquid but I do always wear gloves and rinse off soap residue thoroughly. I know that if I wash up with bare hands I get lumps on my skin.
I use this washing up liquid because I want to be kinder to the planet, but I might try some of the other options below as a comparison, especially as some don’t contain SLS.
How do you avoid washing up liquid allergy?
Here are a few options for avoiding allergies to washing up liquid.
- Wear gloves and rinse well
- Use the dishwasher. This has a pretty good rinse cycle so should remove all traces of allergens
- Bicarbonate of soda with hot water
- Soap nuts dissolved in hot water – are recommended everywhere for people with sensitive skin. Find out more about washing clothes and dishes with soap nuts on the Natural Spa supplies website. Soapnuts are actually drupes, a fruit with a few seeds in each plant, which contain saponins, a natural soap. If you’re worried that soap nuts might be a nut and might cause an allergic reaction read this article I found by Christopher Sicurella of NaturOli. He seems to know what he’s talking about and the only other possible reference I found was on a forum from someone who thought they might have an allergy to the soap nuts they were using. All other sources I have say they aren’t a nut. However, technically someone somewhere could be allergic to them. Do a skin patch test before doing a full washing load!
Which brands are better?
- Surcare washing up liquid – Surcare’s website had no ingredients information but Waitrose had this: Surcare Washing Up Liquid contains amongst other ingredients:, 15-30% Anionic Surfactants, Less than 15% Non-Ionic Surfactants, Amphoteric Surfactants, Also contains: Dimethylol Glycol.
- Bio-d washing up liquid – A blend of detergents derived from Coconut Oil, Aqua, Citric Acid, Sodium Chloride, Vegetable Glycerine.
- Earth Friendly Free & Clear Dishmate – Aqua, 100% natural anionic coconut kernal oil based surfactant* (15-30% anionic, 5-15% amphoteric), salt. (* Does not contain SLS)
Are you allergic to your washing up liquid? As well as thinking of your safety in your own home and whether soap residue from washing up could be enough to trigger an allergy in an allergic person, think about other places where you eat. Could this pose a problem when eating out? Should we be asking which washing up liquid our friends use and also any restaurants? As well as questions about how food is prepared we now need to ask which washing up liquid they use… They really will think we’re all nuts! This is something that I’d never thought of until last week. Now am I taking all this a bit far?
When you look at my success at eating out you will realise why I have to take everything this far. I react to so many things that it’s easier for me to stay at home and cook my own food. Could this be one of the reasons I have so many problems?
I’d love to hear what you think. Special thanks to Foods Matter and the Free From food awards team for inspiring this blog post. More on the free from awards soon.