Cleaning products, unlike food or personal care products, are not required to display a complete list of ingredients. Many ingredients may cause skin, eyes and respiratory irritation, asthma, headaches and chemical burns. Others have been associated with more serious long term health concerns such as hormone disruption and neurological disorders.
However, you can learn something about a product’s hazards by reading its label.
- Most hazardous – ‘Danger / Poison’
- Moderately hazardous – ‘Warning’
- Slightly toxic – ‘Caution’
- Chlorine or Ammonia, listed as active ingredients.
- Formaldehyde, Terpenes, Phenols, Chlorine, Organic Mercurials, Balsams, Aluminium Complexes ‘ known to have carcinogenic effects.
- Detergents containing Alkylphenol Ethoxylates (APEs) – do not degrade completely and are known hormone disruptors.
- Detergents containing phosphates – cause algal blooms in waterways.
- Biodegradable to AS4351, or better still, an international standard.
- Plant-based ingredients, instead of petroleum-based.
- Concentrated form.
- Specific ingredient information (such as “solvent-free,” “no petroleum-based ingredients”) rather than unregulated “greenwash” claims (such as “natural” and “eco-friendly”)
See which cleaning products are most environmentally friendly at the Environmental Working Group
Find out more Fresh Green Clean
Find out more Safer Solutions