What’s Under Your Sink?

Date posted: 2012-09-18

By Nils Bruzelius
EWG Executive Editor

Within hours after EWG published its 2012 Guide to Healthy Cleaning, we started hearing from manufacturers who said they had added new ingredient information to their product labels, changed the ingredients - or both. Weak disclosure or potentially harmful ingredients are two major reasons why many well known product lines get low grades in the Guide's scoring system, and some companies were eager to give us the updated information and, they hoped, get a better score.

They also wanted us to take the original C, D or F score off the website.

We're happy to get the new information and will use it to update the Guide on a regular basis, but for the most part, the original scores will stay.


Unlike a tomato or a banana, cleaning products don't go bad in a hurry. If you’re like most consumers, you probably have bottles of window or floor cleaner under your sink or in your cleaning closet that have been there for months – if not years. In stores, too, it can take a long time before old inventory sells out and gets replaced with the "new, improved" version.

For example, Whole Foods Market announced in 2011 that all cleaning products sold in its stores would be rated on safety and environmental criteria and would need detailed ingredient labels by April of this year. EWG has kept an eye on the cleaning product aisles in several Whole Foods stores and saw that the rollout of new products and labels was taking slightly longer than expected. In early May, Whole Foods announced that 90 percent of products being sold in its stores now met the company’s ingredient requirements, but it added that it would take six months before all of them had full ingredient labels.

So even if a company relabeled or improved its products months ago, what's on store shelves – and in your home - may still be the old stuff. And you may well want to check out how it ranks in EWG's Guide.

We want makers of cleaners to know that we’re eager to have their new information if they’ve made changes that aren’t reflected in our database, and we’ll put it on the website and post a new scores on a regular timetable if the grades change, but we won’t take down the original scores – at least not for the foreseeable future.

And for you consumers who are heading for the store tomorrow, rest assured that we're working as fast as we can to update scores so you can find out what’s the best for you and your family now. Look for the A's and B's when you head down the cleaners aisle.

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About the ratings About the ratings
EWG provides information on cleaning product ingredients from the published scientific... continue reading →
EWG provides information on cleaning product ingredients from published scientific literature, to supplement incomplete data available from companies and the government. The ratings indicate the relative level of concern posed by exposure to the ingredients in this product - not the product itself - compared to other product formulations. The ratings reflect potential health hazards but do not account for the level of exposure or individual susceptibility, factors that determine actual health risks, if any. (Hide)
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