As I told you in the previous article I wrote “Clorox Green Works…Not So Green for Your Health“, I had a few unanswered questions as to the safety of the product when it comes to our health. After posting that article, I wrote to Clorox Customer Service Department and after an email from them, which told me nothing, and another one from me and finally another one from them here is where the situation stands.
Don’t hold your breath…it isn’t too encouraging where your health is concerned. What it is, is eye opening as to how these companies can get away with what they say!
Ok so to remind you, in my first email I had 2 questions for Clorox regarding their Green Works cleaners, which were:
- Why are the ingredients not on the bottle? And what are the ingredients?
- Why is it labeled with a caution label as an irritant, if it is all natural from plant based ingredients?
Here was the response from the Clorox Customer Service Department(unedited):
Thank you for contacting us about Green Works Natural All Purpose Cleaner Spray. We always appreciate hearing from our consumers. We sincerely regret any inconvenience this problem may have caused you. We would be more than happy to share with you the ingredients in our Green Works products. First, which one are you specifically needing to know?
Even though these products are all natural, we still are required to place the eye irritant on the label, because this product is not designed in that way.
Again, thank you for contacting us.
Consumer Response Representative, Consumer Services
So I do not know about you but I do not feel like I got much in terms of answers to my questions from that, or understood at all what the second part meant. So I wrote to them again. Here was the next email I sent (unedited):
Thank you for getting back to me so promptly. As for the ingredients my first question was how come they are not on the products to start with? In Canada the FDA passed a law in 2006 for all personal products to have ingredients on the packages, I would have assumed that any company would put their ingredients on the product even if it is a cleaner to give the consumer more choice in deciding what is good for them and also to empower customers.
As for which product ingredients I am interested in, all of them actually. Before I use a purchase/use a product I would like to know what I am using and hence if you could email me the ingredients of the ALL PURPOSE CLEANER, BATHROOM CLEANER, DILUTABLE CLEANER, GLASS AND SURFACE CLEANER, and TOILET BOWL CLEANER.
Finally I am not sure I understand what you mean in the below statement when you say “Even though these products are all natural, we still are required to place the eye irritant on the label, because this product is not designed in that way” – if you could please explain what you mean they are not designed in THAT way?
Thank you again in advance for your help and reply.
And here is the email I got back in response to that one, again unedited:
Thank you for contacting us about Green Works Natural All Purpose Cleaner Spray. We always appreciate hearing from our consumers. We sincerely regret any inconvenience this problem may have caused you.
The ingredients for the GreenWorks Natural All Purpose Cleaner are; coconut-based cleaning agents, corn-based ethanol, essential lemon oil, and filtered water.
The ingredients for the Green Works Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner are; coconut-based cleaning agents, corn-based ethanol, essential lemon oil, citric acid, lactic acid, and filtered water.
The ingredients for the Green Works Natural Dilutable Cleaner are; coconut-based cleaning agents, corn-based ethanol, essential lemon oil, and filtered water.
The ingredients for the Green Works Natural Bathroom Cleaner are; coconut-based cleaning agents, essential lemon oil, and glycolic acid.
The ingredients for the Green Works Natural Glass & Surface Cleaner are; coconut-based cleaning agents, corn-based ethanol, essential lemon oil, and filtered water.
As for the statement regarding the eye irritant, we were simply stated that our products are not intended to be in a consumer’s eyes. We are required to place the warning on the bottle, whether or not the products are all natural.
Again, thank you for contacting us.
Consumer Response Representative, Consumer Services
Are you thinking what I am thinking…come on, give me a break. Why do the large corporations continue to think that the general public needs to be deceived and is so dumb they are not going to look into this at face value for what it is.
So before I tell you my final thoughts on the Clorox Green Works products, I just have to say one thing. In my last article I applauded them for going green, but when a company comes across as dishonest, like they have something to hide and does not give the customer the benefit of the doubt for knowing better – well that is where I pull the plug on supporting them. I have no problem never buying their products, as I do not already.
My views based on this set of emails
- My original question was still not answered after 2 emails – why the ingredients are not there in the first place.
I engage peace into all areas of my life and try to give others the benefit of the doubt without looking for drama, but at the same time I am not naïve. When a company cannot even answer why they are not posting their ingredients – that to me is not positive news about the product at all.
- As for the ingredients I was given, I do not for a second believe that that is the completely accurate version of them. Do you want to know why? Read the ingredients yourself again…
Coconut-based cleaning agents – sounds nice right, well what are they? And if you notice it does not say coconut cleaning agents, but coconut based cleaning agents. There is a big difference in the wording and what that actually means from a chemists point of view.
Corn-based ethanol – I will give them the benefit of the doubt on this one and assume it is just the alcohol extracted from the plant.
Essential Lemon Oil – could be natural and could be synthetic, you really do not know its exact source.
Glycolic Acid – you may notice this name from some cosmetic products which act as strong chemical peels. Yes it is plant derived – but if you have not read some of my other articles, like “The story of personal care products in the 21st century” – just because it is from plants does not mean it is automatically good for you. Glycolic acid is chemically classified as a strong irritant [source glycolic acid MSDS]. Do I need to say more?
Citric Acid – this one may be recognized as the famous acid found in citrus fruits, but do not kid yourself, acids come in various strengths (i.e. concentrations) and since we do not know this concentration don’t start feeling too safe with this one yet. Citric acid also is a slight irritant as it is nonetheless an ACID. [source Citric Acid MSDS]
Lactic Acid – and yes you may recognize this name from things like yogurt or what is made in your muscles after heavy duty exercise. Again seeing that we do not know the concentration of this acid we cannot conclude much about it. Although something tells me it is nothing close to what yogurt has. And if you still need a clue about this one, if you ever did have lactic acid build up, did you feel good? I didn’t think so, it is toxic to your body and that is why body tries as quickly as possible to convert it into something less toxic like pyruvic acid that your body can use. Anyway if you are still not convinced lactic acid is considered a strong irritant, read its MSDS sheet. [lactic acid MSDS]
- So as a final proof, I looked up each of the products’ own MSDS sheets which Clorox provides on their site. There is lots of good information there, but I just want to mention to you the product pH’s.
- The all purpose cleaner has a pH of around 7, so that is very good – the only product possibly safe to use.
- The toilet bowl cleaner has a pH of about 2.1! Ouch – that is one heavy duty corrosive acid!
- The bathroom cleaner has a pH of about 2.7! Another strongly corrosive acid.
- The dilutable cleaner has a pH of about 10.3 – and that makes it a pretty strong, corrosive base.
- The glass and surface cleaner has a pH of about 10-11, which makes it another strong base with corrosive, alkaline properties.
So to all you people who have tried it and claim that it works – of course it works, it eats away through everything, including your skin!
- Finally as to Mr. Sharp’s last comment as to why they have to label it with a “Caution – Irritant” label, he states that it was not meant to be in a consumer’s eyes – well neither is milk and it isn’t labeled with such a warning.
So ladies and gentlemen, I rest my case. Yes these ingredients are biodegradable but in no way are they good for your health, to touch, to breathe in, or to get the fumes absorbed through the membranes of your eyes (a common way fumes can enter our system).
All I have to say is that it is amazing what the word “natural” can mean today. I am afraid that this word will continue to be largely misused and continue to give the public a false sense of safety. And that is why research is your only option – again it is not fair that the onus should be put on you – but until these companies truly start thinking about us instead of their own pockets that is the way it is going to be.
Oh and if you are wondering if I will be contacting Clorox again regarding this issue – the answer is no. They had their chance to be honest, they chose not to and so on my part the case as I mentioned above is closed. What remains now is just to educate as many people as possible on this!
For your reference here are the MSDS sheets for each of the Clorox Green Works products, from their web site. At least they cannot fib the truth there (I hope) – I am also sure they are not banking on a lot of people seeing them.
*(if you are wondering where the word natural is…I just could not make myself insert it in the above names – I am sure you understand)
UPDATE – July 11, 2011 – More truth about Clorox Green Works comes out: Some ‘green’ detergents contain petrochemicals.