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Washing dishes for a chemo patient

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#1 PrincessPeach

Posted 22 June 2016 - 12:03 PM


I'm trying not to word this to insensitively and I do apologise in advance for my really stupid question, but Google is totally contradictory to what I am being told.

So, my MIL is currently undergoing chemotherapy and had her second last treatment 2 weeks ago. We had her over for dinner last night and she insisted we run the dishwasher separately for all her dishes.

Now I'm aware that when washing dishes by hand, the chemo patients dishes need to be done separately, but does this extend to using a dishwasher, or is she just being excessively cautious? Google is telling me that even washing by hand, it's only for the first 72 hours after treatment that they need to be separated for, so I'm a bit confused.

Also, not sure if it changes things that I'm breastfeeding our 8 week old and we have a 2 year old.

#2 Bwok~Bwok

Posted 22 June 2016 - 12:09 PM

I always washed my Mum's stuff seperate - to make sure it was completely clean. Also never used the 'every day' dish cloth e.g. to wash counters down with etc and had one specifically for her dishes.

Their immune system is shot with Chemo - so I was always cautious. Last thing they need to get sick on top of everything else.

Edited by Bwok~Bwok, 22 June 2016 - 12:10 PM.

#3 purplekitty

Posted 22 June 2016 - 12:11 PM

Some precautions are for protection of the patient to reduce the chance of infection with low blood counts post chemo.

I would ask the oncologist treating what precautions are necessary particularly in regards to contact with bodily fluids.
The main issue is vomit,urine and faeces.

#4 PrincessPeach

Posted 22 June 2016 - 12:14 PM

Sorry, I mean after she has used them.

#5 ~Bob~

Posted 22 June 2016 - 12:15 PM

I would follow her advice. At the beginning of treatment, the oncologist will give hygiene instructions particular to the chemo that the patient is receiving. As you have a small baby, it's important that you follow these guidelines. If she said to run hers separately, I would. I would probably run hers, then add everything else and run it again, just for good measure.

#6 Bwok~Bwok

Posted 22 June 2016 - 12:16 PM

View PostPrincessPeach, on 22 June 2016 - 12:14 PM, said:

Sorry, I mean after she has used them.

Yep I would handwash hers.

#7 purplekitty

Posted 22 June 2016 - 12:18 PM

There may be an information sheet available at the hospital as well.

#8 ~Bob~

Posted 22 June 2016 - 12:22 PM

You will need to know the name of the drug she is having if you want to get hold of an information sheet. Protocols are drug specific.

It might not be a bad idea, as there are lots of variants with chemo, including whether or not they should hold babies, if there's a period of isolation from children after each treatment, and then there are standard things around hygiene, like hand washing and flushing twice.

#9 PrincessPeach

Posted 22 June 2016 - 12:24 PM

View Postpurplekitty, on 22 June 2016 - 12:18 PM, said:

There may be an information sheet available at the hospital as well.

I'll ask my FIL about this. No point asking MIL, she isnt the most forthcoming on information as she doesn't want us to 'worry' about her or make a fuss over her.

Drives DH and I up the wall as we much prefer to have all the facts rather than her sanitised version of events, and given she doesn't take information in at the best of times it's frustrating as we often get the totally wrong story.

#10 purplekitty

Posted 22 June 2016 - 12:34 PM

View Post~Bob~, on 22 June 2016 - 12:22 PM, said:

You will need to know the name of the drug she is having if you want to get hold of an information sheet. Protocols are drug specific.

That's why I would ask the oncologist.


Posted 22 June 2016 - 01:03 PM

I would wash separately as instructed by your MIL.  I would assume that your MIL has been given the sheet by her oncologist that lists all the patients things they need to do and don't.  I'm guessing that is why she said to wash it separately.  

With DH it was one of the instructions.   We always hand washed his as it had to be done separately.

Edited by Catlover9, 22 June 2016 - 01:05 PM.

#12 DFWP

Posted 22 June 2016 - 02:25 PM

Would that be to protect the family or to protect the patient?

When I was on chemo for breast cancer I was told to not use the same toilet (or, if using the same toilet, to extra flush and clean) as it would be toxic for other members of my family (I had three young children) to be in contact with my urine, faeces and vomit. So this was to protect my family. My youngest was 2. I still cuddled and kissed her but was extra careful about bodily fluids as to not use/share cutlery with my kids that might have my saliva on it, not share food that I had already eaten from and might have saliva, etc. And I used a seperate toilet as we have 3 toilets in our house. They told us that any underwear, towels, clothes or sheets with vomit, urine or faeces on it have to be washed seperately and the person handling this (and cleaning the toilet) has to wear gloves to protect themselves.

We also had extra hygiene rules to protect me, like the whole family being extra vigilent with handwashing, not being around sick people, taking no risks with leftover food etc. I also avoided take aways and pre-prepared salads etc. All these things that are similar to what is recommended for pregnant people to protect the unborn baby.

However we washed all dishes together, sometimes by hand, mostly by dishwasher.

I agree with other posters to find out what chemotherapy regime she is on so you can read up about it. Chemo drugs are all different. Some are more toxic than others.

Also with some baby vaccinations you might have to be extra careful around people with compromised immunity. YOu could check with your GP or the oncologist if the baby/toddler is having vaccinations. This would be to protect the patient.

Edited by DFWP, 24 June 2016 - 10:18 AM.

#13 Hattie

Posted 22 June 2016 - 02:38 PM

The precaution you're referring to OP is to protect other people, not the patient. Bodily fluids of chemo patients - such as saliva on plates and cutlery - can be cytotoxic to other people. Very small chance but nevertheless worth the precaution.

From my experience with dose dense (so very high intensity) chemo, if my dishes and cutlery were washed by hand then they should be done separately from everyone else's dishes and in very hot water, and washed twice. If put in the dishwasher, they could be done just once and with everyone else's stuff, as the temperature water reaches and the amount of rinsing in a dishwasher means that any traces of the chemotherapy drugs would be completely removed.

You are actually at more risk from vomit and urine from a chemo patient. My husband was instructed that if I vomitted or peed on clothes or bedsheets, he should wear rubber gloves before handling them and then wash twice with hot water. Fortunately that never happened! I also had to flush the toilet twice every time I used it, a habit I've found hard to break!


#14 mum2brodie

Posted 22 June 2016 - 04:07 PM

I have chemo for 3 days every two weeks (1 day in hospital and two days with a carry bottle) and I have never been told to wash things up seperately.   I am on hardcore chemo as I am terminal.  My meds are not to be touched or my IV put in by anyone pregnant.

Yes, while I go to the toilet I am required to flush twice while on actual chemo but the other 13 days I am not required to double flush.    Never been told to use a different toilet to others... Seeing we only have one toilet.

Unless she is licking the plate dry.  I personally think this is odd request.

Edited by mum2brodie, 22 June 2016 - 04:08 PM.

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