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Are “Natural” Household Cleaners Really Safer?

cleanersA growing number of Americans are concerned about the safety of household cleaners, laundry detergents, and other home care products. For some, their family’s health has been damaged by chemicals found in mainstream products. Others have studied the issue and want to protect themselves and those they love, and so shop for home care products whose ingredients they understand and feel confident using.

But according to the Natural and Nutritional Products Industry Center (NPIC), there has never before been standard definition of the term “natural” used by the home care industry. Now, an easily identifiable seal will help consumers discern which products are natural. Shoppers can expect the seal to begin appearing on certified home care products in the coming months.
“A number of products that are mainly synthetic are being positioned as natural. This leads to significant consumer confusion,” according to Dr. Daniel Fabricant of the Natural Products Association (NPA), the largest industry organization dedicated to the natural products industry.
For a product to merit the NPA seal, it must:

  • Be composed of at least 95 percent truly natural ingredients, or ingredients that are derived from natural sources, excluding water;
  • Contain no ingredients with any suspected human health risks;
  • Be made with no processes that significantly or adversely alter the natural ingredients;
  • Contain ingredients that come from a purposeful, natural source (flora, fauna, mineral);
  • Be made with minimal processing and without the use of synthetic or harsh chemicals;
  • Contain non-natural ingredients only when viable natural alternative ingredients are unavailable and only when there are absolutely no suspected potential human health risks; and
  • Have transparent and full disclosure of all ingredients.

We look forward to finding the NPA seal on more and more home care products in the near future.

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12 thoughts on “Are “Natural” Household Cleaners Really Safer?

    • Anne

      To KE Cowen….
      If you click on the link in the article that says, “an easily identifiable seal”, a new window will open and you will go right to a picture of the seal on the NPA website.
      The NPA actually has two seals, the one for the homecare products and one for personal care products. Hopefully a lot of manufacturers will climb on board with utilizing these seals. As the mom of a special needs child with health challenges, it is very important to me to have some means of knowing that a product meets/complies with and upholds certain ingredient “standards”. I will be looking for these seals starting with my next shopping trip.

  • I support this new standard. Even in our local Whole Foods Market, I see a variety of products in every section that could benefit from this kind of standard, not just the household cleaners sections.
    For example, I could find only 3 salad dressings in the entire store that did not have cannola oil as one of the or the major ingredient. Since I don’t want to consume “rape seed oil” with toxins, I do not want cannola in my salad dressings. This is only one of many similar issues…
    Keep up the good work.

  • Lloyd Downs

    Please – we want natural product on our cleaners and we want them identified on the label.
    Lloyd Downs

  • Cici

    Whoa!! Hold on!! If you read the requirements for the certification at the Natural Products Association website, “Only brands with at least 60% of their products meeting the association’s standard are permitted to use the seal”
    So the remaining 40% can be toxic crap???!! It seems to me that this is really a greenwashing organization and I take offense that Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) is supporting them. ANH should be advocating for 100% of product meeting standards. Or is ANH a greenwashing organization, also??

    • Drina Brooke

      Hello Friend
      According to the standards, I checked the website, they will allow only products meeting their guidelines to be certified, based on a company which itself also manufactures at least 60% up to their standards. So the product itself has to be defined as natural, in their eyes.
      What disturbed me as I looked further, however, is that the “natural” definition includes alchohol as well as various types of aluminum. That is disturbing, because the alchohol can set off asthma attacks and the metals (particularly aluminum) have been tracked to alzheimers and various forms of cancer, as well as brain and nervous system malfunction. This does not please me as a “natural” product. Debra, perhaps this was something you had not seen on their site? I am sure that you would not have touted this otherwise. Best wishes all, Drina

  • Timhisattva

    Your article states that at least 95% of product ingredients must be natural to meet “Natural” standards. Following your “an easily identifiable seal” link to information regarding the seal we found different percentage to meet the standard as follows.
    “Only brands with at least 60% of their products meeting the association’s standard are permitted to use the seal, and the seal can only be used on those products that specifically meet the standard.”
    What is the discrepancy in percentage information?

  • Gail

    There is no discrepancy. Companies must produce at least 60% of their products as natural products. That 60% production must meet the 95% natural standard for the ingredients. The other 40% of product the company produces does not have to be natural or meet the 95% standard.

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