Labels & Packaging

What's in a cleaning product label? A product label provides consumers with important information such ingredients, directions on proper use, warnings and precautions, as well as proper storage and disposal instructions. Since cleaning products contain ingredients that are hazardous and potentially fatal, it is important to read and understand product labels and only use what is needed. Especially when choosing concentrated products, follow the dilution guidelines provided.

Ingredients: As of 2009 manufactures are only required to label ingredients that pose an immediate danger. Some cleaning product manufactures have begun to voluntarily share their full ingredients on product labels or through telephone or written requests. However, manufactures are still not required to fully disclose product ingredients which may cause harm over time.

Packaging: How the product is delivered and packaged is important to health impacts as well. For example, aerosol packaging deliver the products in tiny particles that readily enter our lungs. This can cause respiratory system damage and/or aggravate existing conditions like asthma. For more information about aerosol cans, click here.

Warnings: Products also contain caution, warning and danger labels, which vary by the amount of harmful substance.

  • Caution- is the lowest signal word that indicates the product could hurt you and cause skin or eye irritation
  • Warning- is a stronger signal word the caution and indicates a potential hazard from normal exposure which can seriously cause harm
  • Danger- is the strongest signal word and indicates the risk of fatality and permanent damage to the body

When possible, choose products labeled “Caution”

Disposal: Cleaning labels vary as to proper disposal directions. Some product labels will suggest disposing properly, rinsing the container before disposing or disposing at a recycling/waste facility.  When in doubt, dispose of cleaning products at the Hazardous Waste Facility or set up a pick up appointment.

Green-labels: Increasingly products with eco, natural or green labels are becoming more popular. However, all green labels are not equal. Since there is currently no regulated standard for what products qualify as green, natural, or eco friendly, it is difficult to make an informed decision. Opt for products that have been certified through Green Seal, EcoLogo, or US EPA's Design for the Environment, all of which have been evaluated through strict guidelines.

For more information about product labels, try using the Label Lookup app by the National Resource Defense Council.

Additional Information for Labels & Packaging

Design for the Environment
is a program through the Environmental Protection Agency that recognize safer consumer, industrial and institutional products.
is an independent third party that certifies environmentally preferable products
Green Seal
is an independent third party that certifies consumer cleaning products.