Just last Monday SC Johnson launched a new web site (www.whatsinsidescjohnson.com) that discloses all the ingredients in the company’s cleaning products. Having worked in the cleaning products industry for many years, this is an excellent step in the right direction. Rather than having the government regulate the industry, leading companies like SC Johnson and Seventh Generation are taking matters into their own hands.
I took a look at SC Johnson’s new site (www.whatsinsidescjohnson.com) and Seventh Generation’s “Show The World What’s Inside” (http://www.seventhgeneration.com/show-whats-inside/cleaning-products-ingredients-guide) to see how helpful the information really is. Below is a side-by-side comparison of each company’s description of “sodium hydroxide” – a common ingredient in cleaning products.
A builder that enhances cleaning ability. It can also be a pH adjuster that alters the pH of a product to improve stability. In high concentrations (such as in drain cleaners), it can be a caustic that helps dissolve organic matter like drain clogs.
What is it: Also called caustic soda or lye, it is a chemical used as a pH adjuster. Commonly used in automatic dishwashing compounds.
What is it used for: Used to maintain the pH of a product.
What effect does it have: High concentrations can be corrosive to skin and eyes. Sodium hydroxide made with older, mercury cell technology pollutes the environment with mercury. Therefore Seventh Generation uses only newer, membrane technology.
From a consumer standpoint, both sites provide useful information; however, Seventh Generation’s site goes a step further to provide the effect of the chemical on humans and the environment, which is what most consumers want to know. I also like the fact that the Seventh Generation site allows you to download the ingredient guide onto your computer and provides an iPhone application. This can be very helpful when shopping for cleaning products (even if they are not Seventh Generation), especially if you are looking to avoid products with certain ingredients.