Lawsuit Pressures Companies to Provide Ingredients of Household Cleaners

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SC Johnson™ is the first of the major household cleaning companies that is disclosing the chemicals that are included in its products, including the launch of a new website that provides this information for brands such as Glade, Shout and Windex.

SC Johnson is the first company to provide a detailed ingredient list of its cleaning products after a February lawsuit. Photo:

SC Johnson is the first company to provide a detailed ingredient list of its cleaning products after a February lawsuit. Photo:

The growth of interest in both natural cleaners and homemade cleaners has brought more attention to the fact that chemicals are not required to maintain a clean house.

The environmental group Earthjustice filed a lawsuit in February against several of the big names in cleaning —Procter & Gamble™, Colgate-Palmolive™, Church and Dwight™ and Reckitt-Benckiser™— because their labels did not identify these chemicals and the health risks they pose, which is against the law in several states.

Because most cleaners are used in an indoor setting, they can release pollutants into the air that contribute to respiratory irritation and nervous system issues. There’s also an issue with disposal of leftover cleaners because they are typically not filtered by sewage systems and end up releasing chemicals into natural waterways.

A bottle of Windex contains Ethanol and Sodium Xylene Sulfonate, among other ingredients. The new site not only identifies these ingredients, but it also provides information on what they are and how they work. Currently, most household cleaners will use general descriptions  (such as “cleaning agent”) instead of ingredient names. That is  if an ingredient section is provided on the label at all.

“We’re glad to see SC Johnson taking the lead, setting an example for transparency that the rest of the industry would do well to follow,” says Earthjustice attorney Keri Powell. “We hope that all cleaning product manufacturers take notice.”

If you have cleaning supplies that are no longer of use, make sure to find a proper disposal location instead of putting them in the garbage or pouring them down a drain.

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Trey Granger

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  1. I was always amazed that household cleaners didn’t have their exact ingredients listed on the label, considering what many are made from. Perhaps this will help people in their decision to buy a more natural product. Thanks for the article.

  2. There are companies out there that have provided safe products for years. Shaklee offers an organic all-purpose cleaner, called Basic H2. Although the ingredients aren’t on the label, they do provide MSDS info and the product has the Green Seal of approval, even.

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