Most household cleaners remove peanut allergens, Hopkins study shows

Peanut allergy sufferers and their parents take note: a Johns Hopkins Children's Center study finds that most soaps and household cleaners will remove enough peanut allergen from hands and dining surfaces at home and in schools to prevent an attack.

Comparing how well assorted cleaners or plain water remove Ara h 1, the most common peanut allergen, the Hopkins researchers showed that most products performed well, although dishwashing liquid left tiny traces of Ara h 1 on some cafeteria tables, and alcohol-based hand sanitizer left residual allergen on half of the hands tested.

"It's possible that dish soap creates a film over eating surfaces, making it difficult to clean underneath," says Children's Center pediatric allergist Robert A. Wood, M.D., senior author of the study. "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."

Wood says the bigger concern to emerge from the study was the failure of hand sanitizers, frequently seen by teachers as more convenient than sending children to the bathroom to wash up, to eliminate Ara h 1. "Their use may not really remove the allergen, but just spread it around," he says.

In the study, published in the May issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, researchers applied a teaspoon of peanut butter to the hands of 19 peanut allergy-free adult volunteers. Participants then washed their hands with various cleaning agents, plain water and an antibacterial hand sanitizer. Hand wipes, liquid soap and bar soap all removed the peanut allergen. Water left residual Ara h 1 on 3 of 12 hands, and hand sanitizer left residual allergen on 6 of 12 hands.

Researchers also compared the performance of plain water, dishwashing liquid, Formula 409 cleaner, Lysol sanitizing wipes and Target brand cleaner with bleach in removing a teaspoon of peanut butter fro

Contact: Staci Vernick
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions

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