Disclosing Ingredients in Cleaning Products? Why All the Fuss?

Spray bottles for cleaning product

Disclosing Ingredients in Cleaning Products? Why All the Fuss?


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Alex Scranton
Director of Science & Research

A new bill has been introduced in California which would require that manufacturers publicly disclose the ingredients in cleaning products for the first time.  Several major manufacturers are voluntarily disclosing most of their ingredients already, so the bill would simply require the additional disclosure of fragrance ingredients and compel the laggard companies who are not yet disclosing to disclose on par with their competitors.

How important is it to get this ingredient disclosure?  Are there really harmful ingredients hiding in the cleaning products we use in our homes?  Unfortunately, it appears that there are.

New data from the American Cleaning Institute’s Ingredient Safety Initiative identifies at least thirty chemicals currently found in consumer cleaning products that are serious chemicals of concern.  Specifically, these are chemicals that are on the state of California’s Candidate Chemicals List.

What’s the Candidate Chemicals list?

This is a list of chemicals pulled together by the Department of Toxic Substances Control which includes chemicals of concern all drawn from other authoritative lists – such as lists of carcinogens, sensitizers, persistent chemicals etc that other governments and authorities have flagged as potential hazards.  As it turns out, some of these chemicals are used in quite high concentrations in average household cleaning products. For example, Cocamide DEA, a carcinogen, is reported to be the dominant chemical  (up to 68% of the product’s volume) in certain household cleaning products.  Potent petroleum-based solvents such as naptha and Stoddard Solvent can make up up to 20% of the volume of some household cleaning products. Chemicals like these, especially at high concentrations, are clearly of interest and concern to public health.  People have the right to know what chemicals are in the cleaning products they purchase.  And manufacturers may just think twice about including dangerous chemicals in their products if those chemicals must be revealed to their customers.

For the nitty-gritty on which chemicals of concern are ending up in cleaning products – and their concentrations – please review the following tables (see below).


California Candidate Chemicals found in Cleaning Products

Women’s Voices for the Earth conducted an analysis of chemicals that can be found in consumer cleaning products which are also on the California Department of Toxic Substances Control Candidate Chemicals list.

Table 1[1] lists thirty chemicals which are currently used in consumer cleaning products that are on the California Department of Toxic Substances Control Candidate Chemicals list. The chart indicates the range of chemical concentrations one can find in three main types of cleaning products:  all-purpose cleaners, dish care products and laundry care products.

This information was provided by the American Cleaning Institute Ingredient Safety Initiative available online at http://www.cleaninginstitute.org/CPISI .  The list is based on data collected from an extensive survey of their member companies.  The Ingredient Safety Initiative collected ingredient information about the three categories of consumer cleaning products only, and does not include information on ingredients present in industrial or commercial products.  The Initiative also did not collect information on chemicals found in fragrances used in consumer cleaning products.  Therefore, this is merely a subset of the ingredients that can be found in the full universe of cleaning products which may be on the California Candidate Chemicals list.

Table 2[2] lists over fifty chemicals that can be used in fragrances that are on the California Candidate Chemicals List.  This list is derived from the International Fragrance Association’s Fragrance Transparency list of chemical used in fragrance.  No specific information has ever been disclosed to determine which fragrance chemicals may be present in cleaning products.

Table 1: Chemicals used in consumer cleaning products which are found on the California Candidate Chemicals List

Table 1 Chemicals used in consumer cleaning products which are found on the California Candidate Chemicals List*
*Data on concentration ranges provided by the American Cleaning Institute’s Ingredient Safety Initiative.

The chart indicates the range of chemical concentrations one can find in three main types of cleaning products:  all-purpose cleaners, dish care products and laundry care products.

CAS Registry Number Chemical Name All-Purpose Cleaners Dish Care Laundry Care
10043-35-3 Boric Acid

1 to 10% 

106-97-8 Butane

1 to 5% 

107-98-2 Methoxyisopropanol

1 to 10% 

11113-50-1 Boric Acid

1 to 10% 

111-30-8 Glutaral

0.1 to 0.1% 

111-42-2 Diethanolamine

1 to 1% 

1 to 5% 

1 to 1% 

1303-96-4 Sodium Borate

4.6 to 4.6% 

1 to 10% 

1 to 5% 

1310-73-2 Sodium Hydroxide

0.1 to 5% 

0.01 to 2.56% 

0.01 to 10% 

1330-43-4 Sodium Borate

1 to 10% 

0 to 35% 

13463-67-7 Titanium Dioxide

0.1 to 0.1% 

14464-46-1 Cristobalite (crystalline silica)

1 to 5% 

14808-60-7 Quartz

0.1 to 40% 

3380-34-5 Triclosan

% not disclosed

4474-24-2 CI 61585 (Colorant)

1 to 5% 

1 to 5% 

64741-66-8 Naphtha, petroleum, light alkylate

0.1 to 20% 

64742-46-7 C12-20 Isoparaffin

1 to 10% 

64742-48-9 C10-12 Alkane/Cycloalkane

5 to 10% 

64742-52-5 Heavy Naphthenic Distillate

1 to 20% 

67-56-1 Methyl alcohol

1 to 1% 

67-63-0 Isopropyl Alcohol

0.1 to 32% 

0.5 to 32% 

68603-42-9 Cocamide DEA

1 to 68.41% 

1.77 to 68.41% 

1 to 68.41% 

72243-90-4 CI Acid Violet 48

1 to 5% 

75-28-5 Isobutane

1 to 10% 

7632-04-4 Sodium Perborate

1 to 12% 

1 to 70% 

7647-01-0 Hydrochloric Acid

0.04 to 10% 

0.04 to 0.04% 

7697-37-2 Nitric acid

0 to 60% 

8002-05-9 Petroleum Distillates

% not disclosed

% not disclosed

8052-41-3 Stoddard Solvent

0.1 to 20% 

9000-90-2 Amylase

0 to 10% 

0.01 to 10% 

9012-54-8 Cellulase

0.01 to 10% 

Information in this table compiled by Women’s Voices for the Earth, January 2017.

Note: This list only includes chemicals listed by the American Cleaning Institute in their Ingredient Safety Initiative. This Initiative did not assess chemicals used in commercial or industrial cleaning products or those found in fragrances used in cleaning products.

Sources: American Cleaning Institute (2017) Cleaning Product Ingredient Safety Initiative. Available at: http://www.cleaninginstitute.org/CPISI/

California Department of Toxic Substances Control (2017) California Candidate Chemicals List. Available at: http://www.dtsc.ca.gov/SCP/CandidateChemicals.cfm

Table 2: Fragrance chemicals on the California DTSC Candidate Chemicals List

CAS # Chemical name
100-42-5 Styrene
105-67-9 2,4-Dimethylphenol
106-44-5 p-Cresol
107-21-1 Ethylene Glycol
107-98-2 Propyleneglycol monomethyl ether
108-10-1 Methyl isobutyl ketone, Isopropyl acetone; (MIBK)
108-39-4 3-Methylphenol; m-Cresol
108-67-8 1,3,5-Trimethylbenzene
108-95-2 Phenol
110-54-3 n-Hexane
110-86-1 Pyridine
111-76-2 2-Butoxyethanol, Ethylene glycol monobutyl ether (EGBE)
119-61-9 Benzophenone
120-47-8 Ethyl paraben, Ethyl 4-hydroxybenzoate
123-38-6 Propionaldehyde
1310-73-2 Sodium hydroxide
131-57-7 Benzophenone-3 (2-Hydroxy-4-methoxybenzophenone)
1319-77-3 Cresols, Cresol mixtures
1330-20-7 Xylenes; [o-xylene (95-47-6), m-xylene(108-38-3)and p-xylene (106-42-3)]
13463-67-7 Titanium dioxide (airborne, unbound particles of respirable size)
140-67-0 Estragole
25013-16-5 Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)
25154-52-3 Nonylphenol
25973-55-1 2-(2H-benzotriazol-2-yl)-4,6-ditertpentylphenol (UV-328)
28553-12-0 Diisononyl Phthalate; 1,2-Benzenedicarboxylic acid, diisononyl ester (DiNP)
515-03-7 1-Naphthalenepropanol,
541-02-6 Cyclopentasiloxane, decamethyl-
64741-65-7 Naphtha (petroleum), heavy alkylate; Low boiling point modified naphtha
64742-46-7 Distillates (petroleum), hydrotreated middle; Gasoil – unspecified;
64742-48-9 Naphtha (petroleum), hydrotreated heavy; Low boiling point hydrogen treated naphtha
64742-52-5 Distillates (petroleum), hydrotreated heavy naphthenic; Baseoil – unspecified;
6535-42-8 1-Naphthalenol, 4-[(4-ethoxyphenyl)azo]-
67-63-0 Isopropanol
67-64-1 Acetone
68648-53-3 Resin acids and Rosin acids, hydrogenated, esters with triethylene glycol
74-93-1 Methyl Mercaptan
75-07-0 Acetaldehyde
75-65-0 Tertiary butyl alcohol (TBA)
78-93-3 Methyl ethyl ketone
84-66-2 Diethyl phthalate (DEP)
85-86-9 2-Naphthalenol, 1-[4-(phenylazo)phenyl]azo-
90-12-0 1-Methylnaphthalene
9016-45-9 Nonylphenolethoxylate
91-20-3 Naphthalene
91-57-6 Methylnaphthalene; 2-Methylnaphthalene
92-52-4 Biphenyl
93-15-2 Methyleugenol
94-13-3 n-Propylparaben
95-48-7 2-Methylphenol, o-Cresol
95-63-6 1,2,4-Trimethylbenzene
97-99-4 tetrahydro-2-furyl methanol; tetrahydrofurfuryl alcohol
98-86-2 Acetophenone
99-76-3 Methylparaben; Methyl p-Hydroxybenzoate
Various Nonylphenol, nonylphenol ethoxylates (NP/NPEs) (and related substances)

Information in this table compiled by Women’s Voices for the Earth, November 2015

Sources: International Fragrance Association (2017) IFRA Survey Transparency List Available at: http://www.ifraorg.org/en-us/ingredients

California Department of Toxic Substances Control (2017) California Candidate Chemicals List Available at: http://www.dtsc.ca.gov/SCP/CandidateChemicals.cfm

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