What does the Non-Toxic Label Really Mean?

by Sunrise Cleaning on November 27, 2012

Absolutely nothing when it comes to protecting yourself and loved ones from hazardous cleaning products! According to Consumer Reports online, the “non-toxic” claim implies that a product, substance, or chemical will not cause adverse health effects, either immediately or over the long-term. However, there are no specific standards or verifications for the “non-toxic” claim.  What?? There are no standards for the claim “non-toxic”? It doesn’t surprise me.

“Toxic versus Non-Toxic”

I did a little research and what I discovered is that the word “toxic” is defined by the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA), which regulates hazardous household products. A product is toxic if it can produce personal injury or illness to humans when it is inhaled, swallowed, or absorbed through the skin. Also, a product is considered toxic if it can cause long term chronic effects like cancer birth defects, or adverse effects on the nervous system.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) does not define the term “non-toxic” therefore some product manufacturers might assume that a product or chemical is considered “non-toxic” or safe if it does not meet the definition of ‘toxic” under the FHSA.  More detailed information on toxicity can be found at the EPA website: http://www.epa.gov.

Should I believe the label?

No! The term “non-toxic” is meaningless and can be misleading. Unfortunately, no organization verifies the use or claim of the words “non-toxic” other than the company manufacturing or marketing a product. While CPSC requires some products to display hazard labeling, it conducts no enforcement of the use of the term “non-toxic.” So products that are labeled “non-toxic” are not necessarily safe to use.

So what should I do now?

Check your cupboards!  Locate the products that are labeled as “non-toxic” and read the chemical labels. Does it say Caution! Warning! or Danger[S1] ! on the label too? Consider replacing those products with a natural or environmentally safe cleaning product. There are lots available, some you can even make yourself. I’ll be sharing information about those products and formulations you can make yourself in future blogs.  Here’s an easy tip to get started: Try vinegar and water! It’s been long-known to be excellent for cleaning windows and still outshines the dozens of window-washing products on the market. (Two teaspoons of vinegar to 1 quart of warm water.)

Do you have a favorite “homemade” cleaning formulation?  Share it with us!

Previous post:

Next post: