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By BCPP Senior Policy Director Nancy Buermeyer 

If you’re concerned about the safety of the chemicals in the cleaning products you bring into your home, you’re probably familiar with trying to decipher the sometimes confusing or complicated labeling. Still, if you learn the basics of decoding cleaning product labels, you’ll find the essential information you need to identify and avoid chemicals linked to breast cancer and other harmful health effects.

Until very recently, there was no requirement for companies to disclose the ingredients in cleaning products (except for the active ingredients in disinfectants). Most cleaning products were a black box, with marketing claims like ‘natural’ and ‘environmentally friendly,’ and no way for us to verify those claims by checking the full ingredient list.

And then, the CA Cleaning Products Ingredient Right to Know Act of 2017 cracked opened that black box of secrecy. As of January 2021, cleaning products sold in California are required to include a list of ingredients on the product label, providing the crucial information in stores so shoppers can choose safer products. More detailed ingredient information has been available on cleaning product websites since the beginning of 2020.

A critical, lesser-understood side effect of ingredient labels is that they encourage companies to make safer products by removing toxic chemicals from their formulations, which is great for those of us shopping for safer, nontoxic cleaning products!

We know that finding and understanding ingredient lists can be challenging, so we created a new report to help: Opening the Black Box: A Guide to Cleaning Product Ingredients. Along with our accompanying video (see below), the guide walks you through the process of researching and reviewing the potential hazards of cleaning product ingredients.

We hope you find these resources helpful!

Check out this video, How to Find Cleaning Product Ingredients: 

Video Transcript (coming soon)

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