Is Clorox Really Coming Clean About Toxic Ingredients?

Air pollution, caused by industrial practices and every day activities like driving, has been shown to pose a threat to human health. But many people don’t realize that the dirtiest air isn’t necessarily found on a street corner in New York City, or in rush hour traffic in Los Angeles: it’s inside their homes and offices.

Common products like household cleaners, disinfectants and air fresheners release chemical toxins into the air almost continuously from the time they are used.

The EPA reports that inadequate ventilation and higher temperatures in indoor environments can concentrate these chemicals and increase their toxicity, even though you’re unlikely to find any warnings about this on the label.

Now, in an attempt to increase it’s transparency and decrease the environmental impact of it’s products, the Clorox Company has launched a new Web site that details ingredients for more than 230 cleaning, disinfecting and auto care products.

Best known for its bleach and iconic brands like 409, Liquid-Plumr and Pine-sol, the company is trying to continue a policy of communicating about ingredients that started with the launch of its “plant based” GreenWorks line in January of 2008.

But a quick look at the new “corporate social responsibility” website leaves one with uncomfortable questions about whether consumers are really getting more information about the potentially harmful ingredients in these Clorox products.

Clicking on the “Ingredients Inside” link brings the consumer to a easy-to-navigate page of all the Clorox brands. Select one, and a list of ingredients pops into view. It doesn’t take long to realize that these lists seem oversimplified and incomplete; telling you what the ingredients DO, but not what they can DO TO YOU.

A little more investigation will reveal Material Safety Data Sheets for each product, but when compared to the ingredients lists on the CSR site, it’s astonishing to note that most of the “hazardous ingredients” aren’t even mentioned.

Is this really living up to Clorox’s self-proclaimed mission to “focus on integrity and quality, guided by our core value of doing the right thing every single day”?

Just the fact that the public can now access these data sheets is a small victory, but despite these efforts, labels will continue to be confusing and misleading for customers that don’t take the time to conduct their own investigations.

And for those who think they can avoid the whole issue of label transparency by choosing the GreenWorks line of products instead, a word of caution: Critics argue that since no industry standard definitions currently exist for natural cleaners, Green Works is simply deeming itself green against its own standards – a dangerous trend to set.

Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons - by rubberglovelover

110 comments

Ashley M.
Ashley M.6 years ago

Clorox, you broke my heart. I believed we had something special, but now I realized that our relationship was a lie. I never wish to use you again. And don't bother sending me coupons, because I have already fallen for someone new. Yeah, his name is Greenworks.

Monica D.
M D.6 years ago

Interesting, thank you.

Laurie Malinowski

Everything is toxic if injested .If you do not rinse thoughly your pet could have a reaction no mater how safe the product is to humans to touch their skin is more sensitive to everything.As for floacarbons look on your spray cans (paint cleaners etc.),it says use in wellventilated areas ,BELIEVE IT.Clorox should not be baimed for human errors in pet safty if humans do not take certain precautions.

Alicia Nuszloch
Alicia N.6 years ago

thanks for the info.

Darla G.
Darla G.6 years ago

This is so frustrating. I know it sounds naive, but why can't companies just be honest so we actually get what we want....We should have easy access to healthy products on a consistent basis in accessible shops, instead we have rarer access that we have to research to see if we are even partly getting what we want. I do make my own household cleaning products, buy recycled paper products, compost and get fooled by lying companies... arg!

Riki L.
Riki L.6 years ago

When Clorox came out with green works I thought good, big toxic company going the "right " way, support that change. I cleaned the floor with it and while it was still damp my dog laid on it, she broke out in a rash on her belly and leg where they touched the cleaner! Natural? Really?

Sharon M.
Sharon M.6 years ago

I didn't know that Burt's Bees was owned by Clorox! That's disguisting! I never bought into the "GreenWorks" stuff. You are much better off buying Dr. Bronner and other well known products that have been on the market for many, many years! Vinegar is one product I clean just about everything with and it works great. I have heard that essential oils when mixed with water are disinfectants also. They smell wonderful too. I wouldn't buy anything from Proctor and Gamble, SE Johnson or Clorox either. I hope the compassionate companies win out!!! Go GREEN and COMPASSIONATE!

Lisa L.
Lisa L.6 years ago

using alternatives like lemon juice and vinegar goes along way....

Mrs M.
Mrs M.6 years ago

I'm done now that I am aware of the animal testing and everything I've heard!

Tiffany E.
Tiffany E.6 years ago

Sadly I can no longer use Burt's Bees products because it is owned by Clorox. It's amazing how many products are owned by a limited number of companies.