Most Cleaners Protect Against Peanut Allergy

Household Cleaners Effective at Removing Peanut Allergens

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on May 10, 2004
From the WebMD Archives

May 10, 2004 -- A good hand soap and household cleaner may be all parents need to make their home safe and protect their children from peanut allergy attacks.

A new study shows most soaps and cleaners are effective at removing enough peanut allergen residue from hands and dining surfaces to prevent an allergy attack.

Researchers found most products worked well at removing the most common peanut allergen, known as Ara h 1. The only exceptions were that dishwashing liquid left small traces of the allergen on some tables, and alcohol-based, antibacterial hand sanitizers left residual peanut allergen on half of the hands tested.

The results of the study appear in the May issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Peanut allergy is the third most common food allergy in young children and the most common food allergy in older children and adults. Exposure to trace amounts of peanuts can trigger a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction.

Avoidance of peanuts and peanut allergens is currently the only available means of preventing an attack. That means sufferers must take drastic measures to eliminate peanut-containing foods from their diet and avoid accidental exposure at home, school, and in public areas.

Most Cleaners Remove Peanut Allergens

In this study, researchers looked at the effectiveness of a variety of cleaning agents in removing the peanut allergen Ara h 1 from tabletops and hands.

In the first test, researchers applied peanut butter to the hands of 19 peanut allergy-free volunteers and then had them wash their hands with various cleaning agents, plain water, and an antibacterial hand sanitizers. Hand wipes, liquid soap, and bar soap removed the peanut allergen effectively. But plain water left residual allergen on three of 12 hands, and antibacterial hand sanitizers only worked on half of the hands.

In the second test, researchers compared the effectiveness of plain water, dishwashing liquid, Formula 409 cleaner, Lysol sanitizing wipes, and Target brand cleaner with bleach in removing a tablespoon of peanut butter from a clean table.

All of the cleaners worked well at this task, but dishwashing liquid left a small amount of the peanut allergen on four of 12 tables.

"It's possible that dish soap creates a film over eating surfaces, making it difficult to clean underneath," says researcher Robert A. Wood, MD, of Johns Hopkins Children's Center, in a news release. "But our results suggest that even if a child licked the table vigorously after it had been cleaned with dish soap, he probably still couldn't get enough allergen to cause a reaction."

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SOURCES: Perry, T. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, May 2004; vol 113. News release, Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

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