The conventional cleaning industry has so many dirty little secrets. Here are a few of the big ones that you need to know before you use these products in your home.
1. Ingredients are privileged information.
About 70% of adults believe that companies are required to disclose all of the chemical ingredients contained in their products, which isn’t true. Manufacturers are only required to list the ingredients that are active disinfectants (because these are technically pesticides) or known to be acutely hazardous (which to them includes ingredients that cause fires or explosions, but not those that cause cancer or developmental diseases).
There is a voluntary ingredient disclosure program in the cleaning product manufacturing world, but it’s just that: voluntary. And it allows a couple of loopholes (like withholding the chemical makeup of fragrances, dyes and preservatives and omitting ingredients that are “incidental” and not functional to the product).
2. Labels can (and often do) lie.
With awareness about potential health and environmental impacts on the rise, consumers have an increased desire to buy products that are safer. To profit from this desire, manufacturers have begun using all sorts of marketing tactics to get us to believe their products are better. When it comes to conventional cleaners, manufacturers can make claims that are neither independently verified nor government regulated. According to Consumer Reports, some of the most common claims include: