All-Purpose Cleaners: What To Look for on the Labels

I’ve reached a point in my life where I've dialed in my personal care products, most of them waste free. After much experimentation, my face, hair, teeth, and skin are happy with the products I use. And I can say that *most* of my household cleaners are where I want them to be too. Except, really, for one: the elusive hard working all-purpose cleaner. Either I don’t like the smell, the lack or cleaning power, or the fact that it comes in a big wasteful plastic bottle. Mostly, I don’t like the nasty ingredients. 

I’m still learning about ingredients and how to interpret the labels on household cleaners. Big high fives to the Environmental Working Group’s website which makes it easy to do my research! 

So today, I thought I’d share *some* of the vague terms I now know to look for (and the action I take when I see them). And...I’ll share some great news, too.

Word: “Antibacterial”.
That usually means the cleaner contains pesticides.These are often listed using the vague term “active ingredients”. Things like ADBAC, benzalkonium chloride, or triclosan are a no-no. And things with names ending in “...monium chloride” should be stricken off your list too.
Action: Avoid.

Word: “Biodegradable”. 
The lowdown: This is a tricky one. Technically, true “biodegradable” ingredients break down into inert substances that don’t harm the environment. But since there are no regulations for the usage of the term, some cleaning supply manufacturers slap this on the label to appeal to green consumers. 
Action: Be leery, study the ingredients and do your research.

Words: “Chlorine-free” or “Bleach Alternative”. 
The lowdown: Here’s the thing. Chlorine bleach is nasty stuff that can increase the risk of developing respiratory problems including asthma. So being “chlorine-free” is a good thing. But the product might contain oxygen bleach, which is made of sodium percarbonate which is biodegradable (it decomposes into oxygen, water, and natural soda ash). Both types of bleach can be corrosive and irritating.
Action: Approach with caution. Check all ingredients and then make your decision on whether or not you think the product is safe. 

Words: “Fragrance” or “Scented”
The lowdown: While a nice lemony scent is always nice, do you really need it? When you see “scented”, it usually means “chemical cocktail”. That smell could be made up of dozens of ingredients, some of which could cause allergic reactions or other nasty effects. Caveat: If the scent comes from essential oils, that’s safe. 
Action: Avoid. Opt for unscented alternatives or products that use natural scents derived from essential oils.

Words: “Non-toxic”
The lowdown: Marketing term alert! The implication is that “non-toxic” products or ingredients won’t harm humans or the environment but in fact, there’s absolutely no standard definition for “non-toxic” in the cleaning industry or any regulations that limits the use of the term.
Action: Be aware. Study the ingredients to determine whether or not they are safe for you and your family.

Words: “Active ingredients”
The lowdown: This term usually indicates the use of antimicrobial pesticides like ADBAC or benzalkonium chloride. They’re added to the formulation to kill bacteria, viruses or mold.
Action: Avoid at all cost. These pesticides are hazardous chemicals and you don’t need them to clean your house!

Now that you know what to avoid, I thought you might be interested to find out that etee just recently launched their very own All-Purpose Cleaner!

Like all our products, it’s scientifically formulated, safe to you and the planet (you can check the label!), and comes in plastic-free packaging. Oh, let’s not forget the most important part: it cleans as effectively as the leading all-purpose cleaners. 

Want to get your hands on it? I do!

Thanks for supporting our small business and joining us in keeping the planet clean!

Have a spritzy day,
Chantal

Household Cleaners Ingredients product development

Newer Post →