Have You Been Deceived by a “Natural” Cleaning Products Company?

by Chrystal Johnson on March 21, 2013

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Welcome to the March 2013 Natural Living Blog Carnival: Naturally Spring Cleaning.
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Natural Living Blog Carnival hosted by Happy Mothering and The Pistachio Project through the Green Moms Network. This month our carnival participants have written posts about how they keep their homes clean – naturally.

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natural-isnt-naturalThe word “natural” seems to have lost its meaning over the years. There is no one regulating the use of the term in regards to food, personal care items or cleaning products.

If you don’t know what to look for, you can easily be duped by marketing campaigns claiming that products are natural when they really aren’t. Even though I consider myself educated about ingredients, I have been fooled more than once – and very recently for that matter.

While companies are required to disclose ingredients on personal care and beauty products (although some ingredients can be hidden by terms like “fragrance”), there are no regulations requiring that cleaning products list their ingredients. Scary, right?

Over the years, I have come to rely on the EWG’s cosmetics database to help me decipher the ingredients in beauty products. I always wished there was something like that for cleaning products.

The EWG finally introduced their Guide to Healthy Cleaning not too long ago. I was so ecstatic when it finally came out because I would have somewhere to point people when they had questions about cleaning products.

When I was perusing the new site, I discovered that a cleaning products company that I trusted and recommended to many people had duped me. I had allowed their marketing campaign to convince me that they fully disclosed their ingredients and that they were totally natural.

Somehow I missed the sneaky term “preservative” on the back of most Better Life cleaning products. Maybe I saw it, but I assumed it was something safe because I had put my trust in the brand. Foolish.

When I first saw they were using Methylisothiazolinone as the preservative, my heart sank. I have refused to work with other brands that use that preservative before. Why? It’s a known neurotoxin. How could any company market a product containing a neurotoxin as safe to use around your family? Shameless.

I had really assumed that all of their products would score an A. Sadly, only the dishwashing liquid does. Everything else scored a C or D. I don’t understand how their products can be Green Certified and not be safe!

While I will continue using the dishwashing liquid, because it did get an A rating and I have a stockpile of it, I will no longer be supporting Better Life until they reformulate their products.

Until then, it’s back to vinegar, baking soda and essential oils. Next I want to try making my own infused citrus enzyme cleaner. It will be less expensive than adding my essential oils to vinegar and we have a ton of oranges right now!

Have you ever been duped into believing that a product was natural when it really wasn’t?

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Visit Happy Mothering and The Pistachio Project to learn more about participating in next month’s Natural Living Blog Carnival!

Please take some time to enjoy the posts our other carnival participants have contributed:


About Chrystal Johnson

Chrystal, publisher of Happy Mothering, is a mother of two sweet girls who believes in living a simple, natural lifestyle. A former marketing manager, Chrystal spends her time researching green and eco-friendly alternatives to improve her family's life. She enjoys sharing those discoveries with anyone who's willing to listen.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Crissy owner @LiveLoveDew March 21, 2013 at 4:12 am

Definitely, I think both food and cleaning products have duped me or I’ve researched their ingredients in the past and then one day they are all of a sudden changed, which is irritating. It’s definitely safer to make your own when possible or buy from local small businesses that you can question personally what is in the products.

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2 Chrystal Johnson March 21, 2013 at 2:00 pm

I totally agree!

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3 Lindsey G March 21, 2013 at 5:31 am

I had never heard of the EWG until your blog – it’s definitely time to do some reading!
Lindsey G recently posted..Naturally Spring Cleaning: 50 Shades of Green

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4 Chrystal Johnson March 21, 2013 at 2:00 pm

You’ll never look at your cleaning or beauty products the same again!

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5 Natural Intuition
Twitter: NIntuition
March 21, 2013 at 7:58 am

I LOVE this! I think it’s so easy for people to get tricked by companies who say they’re green. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of going with something, because it says it’s organic or green. Thanks for the tips – it’s always important to read labels!
Natural Intuition recently posted..Spring Cleaning Tips {March Natural Living Blog Carnival}

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6 Chrystal Johnson March 21, 2013 at 2:02 pm

With cleaning products, you have to go beyond the label though since they aren’t required to disclose their ingredients. Hopefully someday we’ll have more transparency.

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7 Romina March 21, 2013 at 8:31 am

It’s too bad that greenwashing is so common. Although I would consider myself more towards eco-friendly than not, a natural lifestyle is new to me. Just like you, I rely on EWG for guidance when buying products and was surprised to find brands that I trusted get such low rating.

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8 Chrystal Johnson March 21, 2013 at 1:59 pm

The problem is that cleaning products aren’t required to disclose their ingredients. At least beauty products have to list the ingredients. I’m hoping the EWG database will open a lot more peoples’ eyes.

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9 Erin March 21, 2013 at 9:10 am

Better Life, Ecostore USA, and even longer ago I used Simple Green’s “natural” line. I’ve learned a lot since then and don’t want to fall victim to another greenwasher. I have been looking at the EWG list for some time now and it is helpful! Many products are too expensive which is why I make my own whenever possible. I’d rather spend money on Castile and EOs and get much more use out of them. :)
Erin recently posted..Green Smoothie

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10 Chrystal Johnson March 21, 2013 at 2:03 pm

I’m right there with you. I’m back to making my own products. There isn’t much cleaning you can’t get done with vinegar, baking soda and essential oils!

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11 Mandi
Twitter: stblessings
March 21, 2013 at 12:30 pm

I used to think many baby products were safe, like Dreft for the laundry. I think baby products are one of the biggest misconceptions.
Mandi recently posted..Spring Cleaning the Natural Way

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12 Chrystal Johnson March 21, 2013 at 1:58 pm

I know! Dreft is so horrible. I hate how they market all of these fragranced products as safe for baby’s sensitive skin!

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13 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama
Twitter: ithoughtiknewma
March 21, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Greenwashing makes me so mad! Thanks for spreading the word. So many people really believe that if the word ‘natural’ is written on a label, then they are using a completely harmless product.

Thanks for hosting, as always!
Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama recently posted..Spring Clean the Natural Way: 10 Tips and Tricks for Family Health

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14 Chrystal Johnson March 21, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Yes, it’s so sad that there is no regulation of the word natural. Anyone can use it!

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15 AlannaB March 21, 2013 at 1:28 pm

I love EWG too!

Never heard of Methylisothiazolinone before your post…come to find out, looks like it is in some Seventh Generation products as well. Very disappointing…because I love their cleaning products.
AlannaB recently posted..Recipes For A Toxin-Free Home

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16 Chrystal Johnson March 21, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Yes, they use it in their cleaning products. The only Seventh Generation products that are on my okay list is the new personal care/beauty line that they took the SLS out of.

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17 Hilary March 21, 2013 at 1:37 pm

The EWG’s Cleaning Guide has been SUCH an eye-opener for me, too! Especially when I’ve noticed that a lot of “green” companies like Seventh Generation, Method, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, etc., receive the same awful rankings as companies that clearly are not green.
Hilary recently posted..My Own Spring Cleaning Challenge

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18 Chrystal Johnson March 21, 2013 at 1:57 pm

I remember before the guide came out when they put out the worst offenders list. Everyone was so shocked that Simple Green got a big, fat Fail.

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19 Brittany @ The Pistachio Project
Twitter: PistachioProjec
March 22, 2013 at 11:20 am

I’ve done this so many times as well. For me it was Biokleen and part of it is just because they don’t fully disclose (and they just changed their formulas on some of their products) Annoying.
Brittany @ The Pistachio Project recently posted..Natural Spring Cleaning – The Schedule

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20 TJ
Twitter: MeasuringFlower
March 22, 2013 at 4:39 pm

The deception by using the word “natural” willy-nilly is very upsetting. Your post definitely strengthens my desire to continue making my own cleaning products!
TJ recently posted..Stella & Dot Celebrity Faves

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21 Jaime March 22, 2013 at 9:36 pm

Yeah…I’ve just been making my own ever since I started reading labels. There’s really no concern for the consequences, is there?
Jaime recently posted..My Lil Market Nursing Necklace Review

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