The Art of Reading Chemical Labels: A Guessing Game!

Every time I am preparing an order for Modern Betty’s All Natural Cleaning Products, my two sons are usually right there watching my every move. The pleasant aromas from the essential oils draw them near and they are curious about what I am doing. I explain my actions and tell them about the ingredients I am using and that it’s going to keep our home clean. Austin is aware of this, although he is only 3, and refers to them as “Mommy’s Cleaners.”

Although he knows I make them and they are used for cleaning, he also knows they could be dangerous if he gets any on his skin or in his mouth. Natural Cleaning should be embraced but it should also be respected. Children should be taught that as early as possible. Although my cleaners are mostly food grade ingredients and I allow them to help wash windows and dust furniture, I want to teach them that cleaners are not for playing with.

What would happen if I didn’t teach him this and he went to someone else’s house and thought the chemical cleaners under that sink were the same as “Mommy’s Cleaners?” Teach children boundaries even in terms of Natural Cleaning. Changing our mentality on chemical cleaners should not alter the safety precaution that comes with handling them.

The majority of awareness of cleaning products in people’s homes is that they are natural and safe because they kill germs. I think it is also assumed that because they are on supermarket shelves it has been tested. These statements couldn’t be further from the truth.

Household cleaners fall under the Hazardous Products Act. Labels are required to provide hazard symbols like “poison” and “flammable.” They also have to give information about first aid treatments for those ingredients.

Reading chemical labels is essential since the average home contains 3 – 10 gallons of hazardous products that we use for everything from cleaning our homes, cars, and bodies to caring for our furniture and ridding our gardens of pests.

A poison is any substance that can cause harmful effects in the body. Millions of people are unintentionally poisoned every year, and children under the age of six are at the greatest risk.

There’s no requirement to list other chemicals on chemical labels that could cause long-term health effects with exposure to the chemical. The exact formulas of cleaning products are considered propriety information so we will never know what chemicals we are using. From a CBC Marketplace article on Household Cleaners, wrote that Health Canada told them in an email, “The responsibility for assessing the hazard associated with a chemical product is that of the manufacturer.” Government agencies do not require the scientific research to know how consumer chemicals affect us.

“There’s a lot we don’t know about the chemicals in our cleaners. Companies are not required to tell us”( “Companies are protected by trade secrets [intellectual property]. If you do see an ingredient, it’s because it could blow up or poison you.”

It honestly took me about 6 months to “cut the cord” with my chemical cleaners that I gathered from every closet and cabinet in my home. They have been with me my whole life.

Now every time I walk down a cleaning aisle, which I avoid at all costs, or watch an advertisement on television, I cringe a little knowing that consumers and viewers are not given all the facts about the chemical labels on chemical cleaners they welcome into their homes.

Persuasive commercials have manipulated us to use these chemical cleaners in our homes with little concern of the impact they may be having on our health.

Green is mainstream but cleaning products are lagging because the chemical industry is for the most part unregulated with misguiding chemical labels that are incomplete. This causes consumers to make bad decisions.

“Green” is in and labeling with meanless propaganda may make it look eco-friendly but it is not.

Be careful that the “natural” air freshners and lavender scented fabric softeners probably aren’t derived from the actual lavender plant.

Whenever I chose laundry detergent or fabric softener, I would always look for babies on the product and choose fragrances that were the most ‘natural’ smelling. I used to buy scents that were “Fresh Air” and “April Fresh.” Labels are a specialized tactic to lure consumers to words that work like magic to mask synthetic chemical labels.


The word Fragrance: can refer to as many as 600 different chemicals in the formula.

Even unscented or fragrance free still contain most of these chemicals.

95% of chemicals used in fragrances are dervived from petroleum.

I completely bypass these products now; I make my own laundry soap from soap flakes, washing soda and borax, with Vinegar and Essential Oil in the rinse cycle. My laundry has never looked better!

Make your own Laundry Soap!

Only one active ingredient is usually all that is listed on chemical labels. The rest of the ingredients are non-existent I guess, out of sight out of mind. Although they are only present to boost the main ingredient, they are still there and I think we should know the names of these mystery chemicals. I would like to bet that the companies that manufacture these products are hoping we don’t ask too many questions about the cheap synthetic raw materials being used in products, which are for the most part unregulated.

It should be common courtesy to list all ingredients on chemical labels.

Until change occurs arm yourself with information so you can make the best choices for your family. The more you know the more you can protect yourself and your family.

Again, remember, “Less is More.” We use way too many products when it comes to cleaning our homes. We really don’t need to be using all of these chemicals that are consequently polluting our bodies.

Become a habitual chemical label reader. One simple rule: If you wouldn’t put it in on your skin, the largest organ in the body, (and a very porous surface) then you shouldn’t buy it.

Finally opt for minimal packaging and use refillable containers whenever possible.

This is a question I needed to know before I started making and using Modern Betty products. Although I do not purchase other cleaning products I still feel like this information could be beneficial to those who are looking for cleaners at a local supermarket.

Choosing green products is easy when you know what you’re looking for!

No need to read chemical labels with Modern Betty's All Natural Cleaning Products!

· Plant based

· Biodegradable

· Chlorine free

· Ammonia free

· Solvent free

· Phosphate free

· No synthetic fragrances or dyes

· Non-toxic

· Natural Fragrance

· Paraben Free Hypoallergenic

· Petroleum free

· Organic

· Low or zero VOC

· Formaldehyde free

I found this helpful as well when I was on the hunt for a “green” cleaner. My life is much easier with Modern Betty’s “One & Only,” however, I want to share this list with you so you can make better choices in terms of reading chemical labels.

All Purpose Cleaner

· Chlorine free, Ammonia free, Solvent free.

Window Cleaner

· Ammonia free, no Synthetic Fragrances or Dyes.

Liquid Dish Soap

· Plant Based, Biodegradable, Phosphate free, Chlorine free, no Synthetic Dyes or Fragrances.

Laundry detergent

· Plant Based, Biodegrable, Phosphate free, Chlorine free, no Synthetic Dyes or Fragrances

Oxygen bleach

· Chlorine free

Stain remover

· Plant Based, Biodegradable, Chlorine free, Solvent free

Toilet bowl cleaners

· Plant Based, Biodegradable, Chlorine free, Ammonia free.

Surface scrubs

· Plant Based, Biodegradable, Chlorine free, no Synthetic Fragrances or Dyes

Automatic Dishwasher Detergents

· Chlorine free, Phosphorus free, and contains no antimicrobals

You’re probably better doing without products that contain the words and symbols:

· Poison

· Danger

· Warning

· Caution