With consumers demanding more information on what goes into their cleaning products and countless regulations from different organizations, it’s a daunting task to figure out labeling requirements for home cleaning products.
Moreover, a slight oversight or failure to meet these requirements may result in your product being labeled a misbranded hazardous product.
This may force recalls, penalties and lawsuits as your product is suitable for household use BUT contains a hazardous substance that’s susceptible to being ingested by a child.
That’s why we’re listing all the guidelines set by various organizations and adding a FREE checklist to help you label your cleaning products adequately and accurately. Here’s what’s covered in this guide:
Legal Definitions Of Terms
Here, we list the legal definitions of terms to clearly understand what constitutes a cleaning product, a label, and its ingredients.
1. Cleaning Products
Any chemical product used primarily for commercial, home, or institutional cleaning purposes, including air care products, automotive products, disinfectants, and polish or floor maintenance products, is called a "cleaning product."
This definition doesn’t include—
- Any drug or cosmetic, including personal care products like toothpaste, shampoo, and hand soap;
- A pesticide labelled, advertised, marketed, and distributed solely as a pesticide, as defined by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), including a disinfectant intended solely for use on critical or semi-critical devices like environmental surfaces or manufacturing and packaging processes.
2. Air Care Products
An air care product is a chemical mixture that cleans and freshens indoor air or deodorizes and neutralizes unwanted odors. This includes products like solid gels, air freshener spray, an outlet or battery-operated air freshener, a hanging car air freshener, and a potpourri product.
3. Automotive Products
An automotive product is a chemical product meant to maintain the appearance of a motor vehicle, but it excludes automotive paint and paint-repair products.
4. Floor Maintenance Or Polishing Product
Floor maintenance or polishing product is a chemical product designed to polish, protect, or maintain furniture, floors, metal, leather, or other surfaces, such as polish, wax, or restorer.
Ingredient refers to a chemical included in a cleaning product, such as—
- A chemical that’s added to a product to provide a technical or functional effect.
- The breakdown product that has an effect on the cleaning product.
- Individual components of a fragrance or preservative in the product.
- Any individual component of an ingredient or an incidental ingredient determined to constitute an ingredient by the Commission.
6. Incidental Ingredients
An incidental ingredient is a substance found in a cleaning product, such as—
(A) Any substance included in a cleaning product during processing for a technical or functional purpose.
(B) A chemical having no technical or functional effect but is present in the cleaning product since it was introduced as a component of another chemical's constituent; and
(C) Any contaminant that may arise from reactions occurring during the shelf life of a cleaning product and is present at technologically detectable levels.
7. Principal Display Panel (PDP)
The PDP is the most conspicuous part of your label, i.e., it's the part of the label the consumer will see first when they pick up your product.
In most cases, the PDP is the front portion of the label's external container, but you may also have alternate PDPs if another area or side of the product is suitable for display.
The following table below helps you calculate the PDP area according to the container’s shape.
- If your product doesn't have an enclosing container like a carton or box holding the product container, the PDP must be on the external container.
- The alternate PDPs of your product must also have all the required labeling statements on them.
8. Information Panel (IP)
The Information Panel (IP) is the panel to the immediate right of the PDP. If you can't use said panel because of the package design or shape, you may treat the most distinguished panel to the right of the unusable panel as the IP.
- The panel adjacent to the PDP becomes the IP if it is the container's top portion and doesn't have any alternate PDPs.
- When your product has alternate PDPs, the panel to the PDP's right becomes the IP.
Labeling Requirements of Cleaning Products
Cleaning products fall outside the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA.)
And although there aren’t well-defined labelling regulations for these products, they must adhere to labeling requirements set by multiple organizations as they often contain hazardous substances.
The following sections list the labeling requirements laid down by different Acts and organizations like The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA.)
1. The Cleaning Product Labeling Act Of 2017
Congress enacted the Cleaning Product Labeling Act of 2017 to require the labeling of ingredients on cleaning products distributed and manufactured in the United States.
According to this law, “any cleaning product manufactured for sale, offered for sale, distributed in commerce, or imported into the United States must have a label on the product's container or packaging.”
The manufacturer must also include a complete list of ingredients on their website in the following order:
- You must mention ingredients in descending order of weight predominance, except ingredients that make up less than 1% of the product, which you can listed in any order at the end.
- The ingredient list on the product's website shall:
a. Include each ingredient's *CAS Registry Number.
b. Explain why each ingredient is in the cleaning product; and
c. Be available in English, Spanish, and any other language determined by the Commission or Administration to ensure that product users in the United States are fully aware of all the ingredients and functions.
* CAS Registry Numbers (CASRN) or CAS Numbers are allocated to each chemical compound documented in the scientific literature to minimize confusion between chemical substances with similar names or abbreviations.
2. The Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA)
The Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA) mandates precautionary labelling on the immediate container of hazardous household products to:
- Help consumers safely store and use those products.
- Provide information on immediate first-aid procedures to follow if an accident occurs.
Here’s everything you need to know about labeling hazardous products according to the FHSA.
Products Included Under The FHSA
The FHSA only applies to:
- Products transported into or near a place where people dwell during their reasonably foreseeable purchase, storage, or use.
- Products used or kept in a garage, shed, carport, or other house-related structures.
How To Determine If A Product Needs To be Labelled
The product’s contents and the possibility that customers will be exposed to any hazards it poses determine whether it has to be labelled. Here’s how the FHSA determines if the product is hazardous or not.
- The product must be toxic, corrosive, flammable or combustible, an irritant, or a powerful sensitizer, or generate pressure through decomposition, heat, or other methods.
- The product must have the potential to cause severe personal injury or illness during or as a result of any customary or reasonably foreseeable handling or use.
This also includes foreseeable ingestion by children while handling or using the product.
How To Determine If A Product Is Hazardous
Here’s a list of definitions provided by the FHSA for each of the hazards listed above according to Regulations under the Act.
- A product is toxic if it might cause injury or sickness in humans when it’s inhaled, eaten, or absorbed via the skin.
It’s also toxic if it has the potential to produce long-term chronic consequences such as cancer, birth abnormalities, or neurotoxicity.
- A product is corrosive if, through chemical action, it kills living tissue such as skin or eyes.
- A product is an irritant if it is non-corrosive and causes significant harm to the bodily part it comes into contact with. Irritation can occur as a result of a single, recurrent, or prolonged contact.
- A strong sensitizer is a product that has a high risk of causing hypersensitivity.
This hypersensitivity doesn’t appear when a person initially touches the product but appears after the individual has been exposed to it a second time.
- The phrases "very flammable," "flammable," and "combustible" are used to address flammable liquids, solids, and the contents of self-pressurized containers. A product can be:
a. Extremely flammable if it has a flashpoint of less than 20° Fahrenheit (F) when tested.
b. Flammable if it has a flashpoint between 20 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit, or
c. Combustible if it has a flashpoint of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, up to and including 150 degrees Fahrenheit (F.)
d. Exceedingly explosive or incendiary if it’s solid and self-pressurized.
6. Products that generate pressure by decomposition, heat, or other mechanisms. These include aerosols, pyrotechnics containing explosive powder, and certain pool chemicals that begin to react and generate pressure in their containers when heated by sunshine.
There are no tests available through the FHSA to establish the amount of pressure these goods may cause.
Note: The toxicity of the materials are determined by tests prescribed by the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR.) For more information on toxic products and how to evaluate them, go through the CFR’s administration and enforcement regulations on hazardous substances and articles.
Packaging and Labeling Information For A Hazardous Product
The following information must be printed in English on the label on the immediate package of a hazardous product, as well as any outside wrapping or container that might obscure the label on the package:
- The manufacturer, packer, distributor, or seller's name and company address.
- Each hazardous ingredient's common, customary, or chemical name.
- The signal word "Danger" for caustic, severely flammable, or highly hazardous products.
For all other types of hazardous items, you must use the signal word "Caution" or "Warning."
- An affirmative declaration of the product's primary hazard or hazards, such as "Flammable," "Harmful if Swallowed," "Causes Burns," "Vapor Harmful," and so on.
- Cautionary messages that inform users of what they must do or avoid to protect themselves.
- Instructions for first-aid treatment in case the product causes an injury.
- In addition to the signal word "Danger," the term "Poison" for a very poisonous substance.
- Instructions for customers to follow if a product requires particular handling or storage to protect themselves, and the phrase "Keep out of reach of youngsters." to protect children.
- If your product doesn’t have a package, you must attach a hangtag with the required preventative information. You must also print this information in any accompanying literature that includes instructions for use.
Ensuring Prominence And Conspicuousness Of A Label
You must prominently display all safety information about hazardous products on the label and in a legible type that contrasts with the other printed information.
The signal word and danger statement, for example, must be on the surface of the immediate container of the product whose labelling is designed to be most prominently exposed to or studied by consumers while shopping at retail.
The remainder of the labelling, as specified in the regulation, may appear elsewhere on the package.
Note: Please refer to the regulation for more information concerning, colour contrast, and special regulations for tubes, unpackaged hazardous materials, and accompanying information.
3. Occupational Safety And Health Administration (OSHA)
As part of its recent amendment of the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), OSHA has implemented new hazardous chemical labelling standards.
According to the new standards, (in effect from 1st June 2015,) information concerning chemical risks must be presented on labels using rapid visual notations like pictograms to alert the user and provide immediate recognition of hazards.
These regulations are primarily for cleaning products that were removed from their original containers.
So, if you’re selling products in bulk by distributing them in smaller containers, affixing labels on such containers will help chemical users protect themselves and prevent injury or exposure from hazardous materials.
According to the HCS, hazardous chemical labels must now include the following elements.
- Manufacturer’s address: The chemical producer, importer, or other responsible party's name, address, and phone number.
- Product Identifier: The dangerous chemical is identified by its product identifier. This could be the chemical name, code number, or batch number, among other things. The relevant product identifier can be chosen by the manufacturer, importer, or distributor.
- Signal Words: These words signify the hazard's relative severity and alert the reader to a potential hazard on the label. "Danger" and "Warning" are the only two words used as signal words.
"Danger" is used for the more severe risks within a hazard class, whereas "Warning" is used for the less severe hazards.
No matter how many hazards a chemical has, there will only be one signal word on the label. If one hazard requires the signal word "Danger" while another requires the signal word "Warning," just "Danger" should appear on the label.
- Hazard Statements: These statements are used to outline the nature of a chemical's hazard(s), including the degree of hazard where applicable.
For example, "causes kidney harm when absorbed via the skin over a long period of time."
To avoid redundancy and increase readability, hazard statements may be combined where appropriate.
The hazard statements are particular to the hazard categorization categories, and chemical consumers should always see the same statement for the same hazards, regardless of who manufactures it.
- Precautionary Statements: These statements highlight the precautions you should take to reduce or eliminate the adverse effects of exposure to a hazardous substance or inappropriate storage or handling.
Precautionary statements warrant a separate section as they’re divided into four categories, and there are specific regulations for different types of hazardous products.
Precautionary statements are divided into four categories:
- Prevention (to reduce exposure),
- Reaction (in the event of an unintentional spill or exposure, emergency response, and first-aid),
- Storage, and
The following table lists examples of these precautionary statements.
Note: A forward-slash (/) indicates that the classifier can select one of the cautionary messages. For example, the label could state, “Do not breathe vapors or spray. Get medical attention if you feel unwell.
Flexibility In Precautionary Statements
OSHA allows flexibility for applying precautionary statements to the label, such as combining statements to save space, using an order of precedence or eliminating an inappropriate statement.
When a chemical is classified for multiple hazards, and the precautionary statements are similar, you must include the most stringent statements on the label.
In this case, the chemical manufacturer, importer, or distributor may impose an order of precedence where phrases concerning rapid action to the exposure are stated first to ensure the health and safety of the exposed person.
Finally, a manufacturer or importer may remove a precautionary statement if they can demonstrate that the statement is inappropriate.
The label producer may provide additional instructions or information that it deems helpful and list any otherwise classified hazards under the supplementary portion of the label.
This section must also identify the percentage of ingredient(s) having unknown acute toxicity when present in a concentration of ≥1% (and the classification is not based on testing the mixture as a whole).
In short, if an employer decides to include additional information regarding the chemical that is above and beyond what the standard requires, it may list this information under “supplementary information.”
4. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
The EPA’s labelling requirement for cleaning products is straightforward- Manufacturers must list any active disinfectants, and possibly hazardous chemicals according to the guidelines listed above.
However, there are certain label claims that can imply that your product is a pesticide as the claims indicate or express that the product mitigates a pest, either directly or indirectly, by removing the pest's food, food source, or habitat.
Given below are examples of claims or types of claims for a cleaning product that might necessitate product registration under FIFRA.
A product is considered a pesticide if its claims imply that:
- Biofilm, scum, allergens, or any pest designated under the CFR are cleaned, washed away, or removed. This includes unqualified claims as well.
- Pests are suffocated or drowned to death.
- Pest habitats or breeding places are cleaned or removed.
- Contaminants, nutrients, or materials that offer food or habitat for bugs are cleaned, precipitated, or removed.
- The product removes or decreases scum or sludge from areas where pests breed, feed, or live.
- Sanitizes, disinfects, or sterilizes the environment.
- Images of pests or pest habitats (e.g., nest, hive, or web) that suggest cleansing or removal of pest habitats or their nutrition sources.
- Any claim on a label or labeling, or by other means such as websites, advertising, etc., that expressly relates the cleaning product to pest management, Integrated Pest Management (IPM), pests, or a specific sort of pest.
Since there are various organisations overseeing the labeling regulations of a household cleaning product, you don’t want to end up with a misbranded product because of a small oversight.
Our guide lists all the necessary information that needs to go on your household cleaning product to keep you free from recalls and penalties.
You can also download your FREE Checklist today to avoid confusion and sign up for a FREE trial with us to reduce the chaos around the labeling process and launch your products on time.