7 Important Parts of a Cleaning Product Label

Girl pulling out wet wipe
Day by Day Photography, Elizabeth Casey / Getty Images

Honestly, many cleaning labels will list ingredients that make little sense to the consumer. Companies may list anionic surfactant or they may say dish protectant. That's not very helpful to consumers who would like to know exactly what is in their cleaning product. Many companies who have a "green" line of cleaners will be much more specific about what is in their product. Often companies are better at listing what isn't in their product. No phosphorous, no CFCs, and no bleach are popular things to tout on a label. But if you want to know the specifics, you often have to go through customer service to get answers.

  • 01 of 07


    Cleaning Label: Ingredients
    Sarah Aguirre

    If you really want to know what the ingredients are in your cleaning supplies, try the manufacturer, first. Their customer service phone number and/or manufacturer's website may list some or all of their products' ingredients. If you still can't find an ingredient list, try searching for the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) for your product. If all else fails, switch to a product that will let you know exactly what ingredients it contains.

    Why You Want to Know About Cleaning Ingredients

    Mixing certain chemicals together can be dangerous. Family members may have an intolerance to certain chemicals, dyes, or fragrances. Most consumers want to know exactly what they are wiping, spraying, or spreading around their homes.

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  • 02 of 07


    Cleaning Label: Directions
    Sarah Aguirre

    What the Label Will Say

    The way to use most cleaning products can seem self-explanatory. You spray, polish, scrub...But in reality, the directions usually give a little more information that can be useful. Most directions will include the surfaces that the product can be used on, and the ones it shouldn't be used on. Before you ruin your surfaces, check to be sure that the product is made for that job.

    The directions will also often give hints on how to make the product most effective. How long do you leave it on the surface? What do you use to clean it off? Is rinsing necessary? Most cleaning products also give the warning to try the product in a hidden spot first, to make sure that the cleaner doesn't damage the surface.

    Why You Want to Know

    You want to be sure that the surface you are cleaning is compatible with the cleaner you are using.

    For best results, always follow the directions on the label. It can save a lot of time and effort.

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  • 03 of 07


    Cleaning Label: Caution
    Sarah Aguirre

    What the Label Will Say

    Most cleaning products add a caution section to their label. It's often in large print and in bold. Most caution warnings will say if the product is an eye irritant, a skin irritant, harmful if swallowed, has contents under pressure, or needs to be used in a well-ventilated area. Many companies will put a small caution section on the front of the cleaning product label, along with a more detailed list of cautions on the back label.

    Why You Want to Know

    If you have respiratory issues, you want to know before you open the bottle that the area will need to be well-ventilated.
    After a cleaner has splashed in your eye, is not the time to search the bottle to find out if it is an eye irritant.

    Know before you use a product what potential cautions it has.

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  • 04 of 07

    First Aid

    Cleaning Label: First Aid
    Sarah Aguirre

    What the Label Will Say

    Sometimes the label will have a separate section labeled as first aid. Other times the caution section will have instructions for administering first aid if the product is ingested, is on the skin or is in the eyes. Many labels may tell you to call poison control. To streamline this process, think about writing the poison control number and storing it in an easily accessible location. One industrious mother I knew, wrote the poison control number on her cleaning products, just in case she ever needed it quickly.

    Why You Want to Know

    If there is ever an emergency, it will help to be familiar with the labels suggestions for first aid. While you may not have memorized the label, you will have a better idea of the first steps to take if you've read it before an emergency happens.

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  • 05 of 07


    Cleaning Label: Storage
    Sarah Aguirre

    What the Label Will Say

    Many cleaning product labels only give storage information if there is a place your cleaning products should not be stored. Often products may say a temperature range for storage or specify that products not be stored next to a heat source. Almost all cleaning product labels will say to keep out of the reach of children.

    Why You Want to Know

    Dry powdered types of cleaners should be stored in dry areas. If they are stored in moist areas, the powder will clump together and become useless. Products that are under pressure should never be stored near a heat source in order to prevent bursting. If you want your cleaning products to last, store them in the recommended way.
    Always keep cleaning products out of reach of children and pets. You may believe that your child or pet knows to stay away from cleaning supplies, but it is better to be safe now and avoid being sorry, later.

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  • 06 of 07


    Cleaning Labels: Disposal
    Sarah Aguirre

    What the Label Will Say

    Cleaning labels will say a wide variety of things for disposal. Some will tell a consumer only to "dispose properly" of the empty container. Others will ask consumers to rinse the container before disposing of it in the trash. Some labels may provide recycling information. Others may caution against reusing empty containers because of the lack of correct labeling, and/or risk of mixing chemicals.

    Why You Want to Know

    More and more products are trying to be kinder and gentler to our earth. If there is an easy way to recycle the container or make sure that it doesn't harm anyone on its way out of our home, it becomes simple for us to do our part in protecting the environment.

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  • 07 of 07

    Contact Information

    Cleaning Label: Contact
    Sarah Aguirre

    What the Label Will Say

    Most cleaning labels will tell you who is manufacturing and distributing the product. Labels will also give the location of the company and a telephone number for customer service. Many cleaning product labels may also list a company website address.

    Why You Want to Know

    If you have questions about ingredients, policies, guarantees or anything related to the cleaning product, the website, and/or telephone number will be your best bet to get answers.