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Understanding Household Cleanser Regulations
Author: Allison B. Vought
Tuesday, June 3, 2014

In a market segement ripe with growth, small manufacturers need to be aware of and understand the differences between cosmetic regulations and those that apply to household cleaners.

The U.S. specialty household cleaners market is expected to reach $7.9 billion by 2018. [1]

Cleaning products may be subject to a variety of federal labeling and registartion requirements depending upon the intended purpose of the product. Occupational Saftey & Health Administration (OSHA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Food & Drug Administration (FDA), Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Department of Transportation (DOT), and other agencies may be involved in the regulation of household cleansers based upon their intended use. Whether intended for instititional, occupational, or consumer use, your household cleaning product may be subject to the various provisions of one or more of these agencies. [2]

The regulations and requirements your products may be subject to depend largely upon the manner in which you market the product. For example, products marketed as general purpose disinfectants (such as those making a claim that they kill bacteria) must be registered with the EPA as a pesticide and meet the labeling requirements established by the EPA. If you market a product as an industrial general purpose cleaner, it would be sbject to OSHA labeling and MSDS requirements.

The EPA regulates everything that falls under "pesticides" in household products and requires manufacturers to list ingredients that are active disinfectants or potentially harmful. A pesticide is defined as a chemical used to prevent, destroy, or repel pests. Pests can be insects, mice, and other animals, weeds, fungi, or microorganisms such as bacteris and viruses. [3]

The safety of products used by consumers in household environments is regulated by the CPSC which regulates all chemical cleaning products that are properly defined as hazardous substances. [4]

Hand Sanitizers and anti-bacterial producrs are regulated as drugs by the FDA. [5]

The EPA has also issued regulations limiting the volatile organic compound (VOC) concentration in various institutional and consumer cleaning products. Products that may contain regulated VOC's include (but are not limited to) bathroom and tile cleaners, disinfectants and sanitizers, furniture cleaners, laundry starch and detergents, fabric refresher (linen spray), hair styling products, shaving gels and air fresheners (room spray). [6]

Household cleaners are not required to disclose ingredients like cosmetics. In an effort to increase transparency, some manufacturers like Clorox have begun to list ingredients on their household cleaner labels. [7] However, it it not currnetly a requirement for compliance. All household cleaners containing known hazardous chemicals must carry a warning label that spells out the potential risks, along with precautionary steps and first-aid instructions.

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