Viruses can remain infectious on certain surfaces for up to several days. One straightforward way to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is by cleaning and disinfecting high traffic surfaces and easily contaminated items such as clothing. Luckily, commonly used cleaners and disinfectants are effective against COVID-19. In response to the global coronavirus pandemic, we are seeing an increase in demand for general cleaning products including detergents. This article provides an overview of regulations to be aware of if you are placing new detergent products on the market.

USA & Canada – Phosphate restrictions

Companies looking to place detergents on the market will need to be aware of regulations restricting phosphate in cleaning products. Approximately half of the states in the USA have enacted phosphate restriction laws. Many states, including Massachusetts, Oregon, and Washington, have put in place a ban on detergents containing more than 0.5% phosphate.

In addition to following state phosphate laws, companies must ensure that consumer cleaning products comply with the following legislations set out by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC):

  • 16 C.F.R. 1500 of the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA)
  • 16 C.F.R. 1700 of the Poison Prevention Packaging Act (PPPA)
  • 16 C.F.R. 500 of the Fair Packaging & Labeling Act (FPLA)

Similarly, detergents for sale in Canada must comply with the Concentration of phosphorus in cleaning products regulations. The regulations set out maximum allowable phosphorus concentration limits for specific product types. Household laundry detergents, cleaners, and dish washing compounds can have no more than 0.5% phosphorus. Additionally, household detergents sold in Canada must comply with the Consumer Chemicals and Containers Regulations, 2001.

USA – California Cleaning Product Right to Know Act (Bill SB 258)

As of 1 January 2020, there are new online disclosure requirements for chemical cleaning products sold in California for consumer and professional use. On-label disclosure requirements for the same products will come into force on 1 January 2021. The intent of Bill SB-258 is to provide consumers and workers with ingredient information about certain products that will encourage informed purchasing decisions and reduce the public health impacts from exposure to potentially harmful chemicals in designated products. The act currently only applies in California, but some industry associations are advocating to make this regulation de-facto national law in the USA.

Regulators have identified 22 lists which must be searched against the product formulation for chemicals of concern. The Act outlines specific website and label disclosure requirements for listed chemicals. Additionally, specific provisions are defined for fragrance allergens, non-functional constituents, and Proposition 65 chemicals.

In addition to the chemical names, information that is required to appear on the manufacturers website includes the CAS number and ingredient function for each component as well as the product safety data sheet (SDS) and links to the applicable designated lists.

Europe – Detergent Regulation (EC) No. 648/2004

In order to sell detergents in the EU, manufacturers must ensure that “preparations containing soaps and/or other surfactants intended for washing and cleaning processes” fulfill the provisions laid out in (EC) 648/2004 (Detergent Regulation).

Article 11 of Detergent Regulation outlines specific labeling requirements for cleaning products, which apply even when they are classified as non-hazardous. Required labeling includes the website address where the list of ingredients can be found. Specific chemical groups must be indicated on the label when they are present in the product above the 0.2 wt% (phosphates, surfactants, bleaching agents, and others). Enzymes, disinfectants, optical brighteners, and perfumes must be stated on the label regardless of concentration.

The regulation also describes biodegradability test requirements for surfactants, restricts phosphate in consumer laundry and dishwasher detergents, and obliges detergent manufacturers to make ingredient data sheets available to medical personnel upon request.

Nexreg is here to help!

It’s important to note that cleaning products with disinfectant label claims are covered under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) in the USA; the Food and Drugs Act or Natural Health Products Regulations in Canada; and the Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR, Regulation (EU) 528/2012) in Europe. These product types may be subject to additional requirements including registration. We will discuss these regulations in more detail in an upcoming article.

For regulatory guidance, detergent labeling recommendations, SDS authoring and more, contact Nexreg today!


Written by Cassandra Taylor, Senior Regulatory Consultant at Nexreg Compliance