FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Have a question in mind? Here you’ll find some of the common questions people ask, and more.
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Why do you have this website?
We understand that you use our products around the people, pets and things you love. So, we want you to have the information you need to make the best choices for your family.
How do you make your products?
It starts with a consumer need or an innovation that we think you might like. We get input from consumers, retailers, suppliers and more. Then we begin the process of creating the product, which includes considering how it will be used, how it should work, the potential product lifecycle and other factors. Using our internally developed classification system, known as the SC Johnson Greenlist™ process, scientists work to select ingredients families can trust - evaluating them based on their impact on the environment and human health. Then once the product is ready and has met performance and quality standards, our manufacturing team produces it according to the specifications, and it again goes through quality testing.
At the end of the day, our goal is always to give you a product you can trust that lives up to our tradition of innovation and quality. To learn more about our Greenlist™ process, click here.
What’s an SDS/MSDS and where do I find it?
SDS are Safety Data Sheets, MSDS are Material Safety Data Sheets, and they are required by law for chemical products used in industry. Because industry use is different from home use, an SDS/MSDS provides details required when products are used at greater frequency, duration or concentration levels than you’d typically use at home – for example if used in large quantities by a business for commercial cleaning, or if being shipped in bulk in a 50-gallon container. SDS/MSDS are designed for businesses or emergency personnel who need to know how to handle, store or dispose of products in these situations. While they’re not completely applicable to normal household product use, we provide easy access on each product page of this site, for those who want an SDS/MSDS.
Where do your ingredient names come from?
When we first launched our ingredient disclosure program, we aimed to use a single naming system - the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) - for simplicity. These are terms you're used to seeing on makeup and personal products, so we thought they'd be most understandable for the most people.
However, since the INCI nomenclature is specifically for the personal care industry, some ingredients we use are not on the INCI list. In those cases, we default to the ingredient dictionary shared by the U.S. household products industry. We were part of the industry collaboration through the Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA) that determined that nomenclature.
As a result, our ingredient names are a combination of the global INCI nomenclature and the US CSPA dictionary. In many cases they overlap, but where they don't, we aim to use the name most commonly used within our industry or that will be best understood by consumers. An example is how we talk about water when it's used as an ingredient. The INCI term is aqua. We follow the CSPA dictionary and simply call it water.
Why use chemicals at all...why not make products from natural ingredients?
Keep in mind that all materials are "chemicals" - chemicals are the basic building blocks of everything, including our food, clothing and the air we breathe. For example, water is a combination of the chemicals hydrogen and oxygen (H2O), and air is a mix of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide and other gases. Also, there are plenty of chemicals found in nature that are toxic, such as arsenic and cyanide. Importantly, sometimes a synthetic ingredient is a better choice for any number of reasons, including sustainability. For example, if not harvested sustainably, using a natural ingredient such as palm oil can lead to negative impacts such as deforestation. In such cases, using a synthetic substitute might be more responsible. SC Johnson does use ingredients found in nature, but only when they meet our own standards.
What's more important: the chemical or the quantity used?
Both are important, but quantity is key. Think of it this way: Most everyone would agree that water is a harmless chemical. But even water can be deadly if you drink too much of it. The important thing in product development is to select the right chemical to achieve the goal and to use the smallest effective percentage of key ingredients to achieve the desired result.
Can’t you only use chemicals that are non-toxic?
While some chemicals, such as asbestos and arsenic are very dangerous, or "toxic," just about every chemical has a degree of toxicity associated with it. Take table salt, or sodium chloride, for example. When used sparingly, table salt simply makes dinner taste better. But if you eat an excessive amount, table salt can be a factor in high blood pressure. So is it toxic? The answer is: Table salt CAN be toxic if used excessively, but when used in moderation, it’s NOT toxic. What matters is the amount used, or dose.
What’s the difference between a risk and a hazard?
This is a great question and you’ll sometimes hear about this debate as it relates to chemical laws and regulations. "Hazard" is a property of an ingredient. For example, the hazard from table salt is that it can contribute to high blood pressure. "Risk" is the LIKELIHOOD that the hazard will happen. Using the table salt example, the risk of high blood pressure is low if you don’t eat too much of it. So risk is about the degree of hazard with an ingredient AND the dose that a person receives – meaning the amount and the length of the exposure over time. Some people argue that ingredients with any hazard are harmful. But as with the table salt example, often hazards can be easily managed.
At SC Johnson, we take a risk-based approach. This means:
• Ensuring that ingredients with hazardous properties are restricted to safe levels and keep to the lowest concentration for the job at hand, as required by local laws.
• Designing products to act quickly, to reduce the amount and duration of exposure.
• Designing packaging that reduces exposure, for example ensuring a product that could trigger a skin allergy is packaged in a leak-proof container.
• Designing sprays to minimize inhalation, for example creating bigger droplets of cleaner so they’ll fall to the surface you’re cleaning instead of hanging in the air.
• Providing clear label instructions to prevent misuse that could increase the risk associated with using a product. Labels are there for a reason – please make sure you read and follow instructions.
I’ve read that some fragrance ingredients aren’t safe. What is SC Johnson doing to make its fragrance ingredients safer?
We work closely with our fragrance suppliers to ensure that we have evaluated the ingredients in our fragrances, both for human health and the environment. We meet the regulatory requirements of the countries in which we operate, as well as the standards specified by the International Fragrance Association (IFRA).
Plus, at SC Johnson, we take the review of fragrance ingredients a step further. We evaluate them not only under the IFRA standards, but also under our own standards. We start with the IFRA list and then apply our own internal requirements. These internal requirements may look at the same criteria as IFRA, such as carcinogicity, mutagenicity or reproductive toxicity, but at SC Johnson, we may take a different view of an ingredient. In some instances, we may also consider additional factors such as consumer confidence with ingredients or other scientific viewpoints.
Does having a "Not Allowable Materials" list mean these ingredients are never in SC Johnson products?
No. Under certain special circumstances, we do allow use of a not allowable material, but we generally place a time restriction on its use. These exceptions are not easy to get, however. The request must first be made to our head of our global product safety and environmental affairs with an explanation on why it is needed and a proposed exit date. If approved, it also must be approved by the Chief Sustainability Officer.
Why would exceptions be requested or granted for not allowable materials?
First, it's important to note that if an exception is granted, it is because, despite the fact that we have questions about the ingredient here at SC Johnson, evidence suggests it can be used safely at certain levels, which we do not exceed. In that case, we might grant an exception for reasons such as:
- We discover a supplier is adding a not allowable ingredient to something that we buy, and we need an exception until we can change the formula to eliminate it.
- We acquire a brand or product and find it includes materials that we consider to be not allowable, so an exception is needed until we can reformulate.
- For registered products, a product has been reformulated to eliminate a not allowable material, but we are awaiting approval of the new formula from the appropriate regulatory agency.
Do products with natural ingredients contain fewer allergens than products made from synthetic materials?
Not in all cases. Products made from natural materials may have more allergens than products made from synthetic materials. For example, fragrances made from natural fragrance materials may contain allergens at higher levels than fragrances made from primarily synthetic materials.
What are the EU 26 allergens and do you use them in your fragrances?
These ingredients are common components of many fragrances, especially those based on essential oils such as citrus, floral and pine fragrances. Depending on the particular fragrance, our formulas may contain some of these materials. Safe levels that will not result in allergic effects have been determined and are the basis for the IFRA standards developed for all 26 materials. Our fragrances use these materials at the lowest concentrations possible in creating the fragrance, and always below the safe levels established by the IFRA standards and in accordance with applicable laws. Wherever one or more of the EU 26 allergens is in use, each of these EU 26 allergens is clearly declared on the product label as required by law.
While there are a number of different nomenclatures for these allergens, below are their common names as referenced in the EU Cosmetic Directive:
• 2-Benzylideneheptanal (Amyl cinnamal)
• Benzyl alcohol
• Cinnamyl alcohol
• 3,7-Dimethyl-2,6-octadienal (Citral)
• Phenol, 2-methoxy-4-(2-propenyl) (eugenol)
• Phenol, 2-methoxy-4-(1-propenyl)- (Isoeugenol)
• 2-Pentyl-3-phenylprop-2-en-1-ol (Amylcinnamyl alcohol)
• Benzyl salicylate
• 2-Propenal, 3-phenyl- (Cinnamal)
• 2H-1-Benzopyran-2-one (coumarin)
• 2,6-Octadien-1-ol, 3,7-dimethyl-, (2E)- (geraniol)
• 3 and 4-(4-Hydroxy-4-methylpentyl) cyclohex-3-ene-1-carbaldehyde (Hydroxyisohexyl 3-cyclohexene carboxaldehyde) (HICC or Lyral®)
• 4-Methoxybenzyl alcohol (Anise alcohol)
• 2-Propenoic acid, 3-phenyl-, phenylmethyl ester (Benzyl cinnamate)
• 2,6,10-Dodecatrien-1-ol, 3,7,11-trimethyl- (Farnesol)
• 2-(4-tert-Butylbenzyl) propionaldehyde (Butylphenyl methylpropional)
• 1,6-Octadien-3-ol, 3,7-dimethyl- (Linalool)
• Benzyl benzoate
• 3,7-dimethyloct-6-en-1-ol (Citronellol)
• 2-Benzylideneoctanal (Hexyl cinnamal)
• (4R)-1-Methyl-4-(1-methylethenyl)cyclohexene (limonene)
• Methyl heptin carbonate (Methyl 2-octynoate)
• 3-Methyl-4-(2,6,6-trimethyl-2-cyclohexen-1-yl)-3-buten-2-one (alpha-Isomethyl ionone)
• Evernia prunastri extract (oak oss extract)
• Evernia furfuracea extract (treemoss extract)
If I have allergies, should I use your products?
Some individuals have allergies to certain ingredients. If you have such allergies, we recommend you contact your physician to discuss further. You may also want to contact our consumer product helpline prior to using SC Johnson products, and they can help you determine which ones would be options for you. You can reach them at 0800-656-534.
Can SC Johnson products cause skin allergies?
All household cleaning products contain skin allergens. SC Johnson takes care to use ingredients with skin allergens only in amounts so low that it would be highly unlikely to create a new skin allergy or trigger a skin allergy reaction, when used as directed.
Why are you listing skin allergens, but not removing them?
We’re committed to sharing what’s inside our products so that people can make the right choices for themselves and their families. SC Johnson takes care to use ingredients with skin allergens only in amounts so low that it would be highly unlikely to create a new skin allergy or trigger a skin allergy reaction. However, similar to people with food allergies, for those who have pre-existing skin allergies, knowing where a particular ingredient is used may impact product choice.
Are there cleaning products that do NOT contain any skin allergens?
It can be difficult to develop a cleaning product that is both effective and does not contain any skin allergens. What is important is that our cleaning products should not cause or induce allergic reactions when products are used as directed.
What should I do if I come in contact with skin allergens?
While ingredients are used at levels that should not result in a reaction, if one occurs, discontinue use of the product and contact your healthcare provider.
Why does SC Johnson disclose allergens at the 0.01 percent level?
Scientists, regulators and the European Union all agree that an ingredient dose at less than 0.01 percent is unlikely to cause a reaction in rinse-off products. This new transparency initiative will disclose skin allergens down to 0.01 percent, the same standard as the European Union.
Why do you use fragrances in your products?
Consumers tell us they love fragrances, because they do so much to make a home special. They can freshen the air or provide that just-cleaned ambiance that many want. We do make fragrance-free products for people who prefer them, but most of our testing shows that the majority of people love fragranced household products.
Why are there so many potential ingredients in your fragrance palette?
While SC Johnson’s fragrance palette has approximately 1,300 ingredients, it’s important to remember that we excluded another 2,000 commonly used ingredients because they didn’t meet our SC Johnson standards. A typical oil-based fragrance could have as many as 50 different ingredients; a complex fragrance might mix 50 to 200. Having a palette of 1,300 options gives our perfumers great room for creativity so they can develop the amazing fragrances you expect.
What is SC Johnson’s position on ingredient and fragrance disclosure, including on-package labeling?
As a family company, nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of the families who use SC Johnson products. That's why we were one of the first companies to make specific ingredient information available to our consumers and why we remain committed to transparent communication with consumers about what ingredients are in our products. We work hard to choose ingredients families can trust - evaluating them based on their impact on the environment and human health. For our full point of view on ingredient and fragrance disclosure, please click here.
Why use synthetic fragrances instead of all natural fragrances?
In today's world, we’re often told we should always use natural things. From food to clothing to other products, the notion is that natural ingredients may be healthier or help sustain resources and the environment. But surprising as it may seem, that isn’t always the case. In fact, synthetic counterparts are frequently no more toxic than their natural counterparts.
An example is d-Limonene, which is in many natural fragrance materials and is a component of citrus peels. d-Limonene can cause skin allergies and can potentially be toxic to organisms in waterways, depending on the dose. And many other natural fragrance ingredients have the same hazard. In fact, the amount of d-Limonene in an orange peel is enough to warrant a “Harmful” classification as a skin allergy hazard in the European Union AND a “Dead Tree and Dead Fish” symbol for being dangerous to the environment! This is the same labeling as required and carried by the labels of many household products using the synthetic d-Limonene.
So should the use of natural fragrance materials be avoided altogether? No. But neither should the use of synthetic ingredients with similar or better profiles. As long as a fragrance ingredient is used at an appropriate concentration in a product, there should be no problems with using it. And that goes for both natural and synthetic ingredients.
What is the difference between SC Johnson products that are labeled as "unscented" and "fragrance free?"
SC Johnson understands that you use our products around the people, pets and things you love. That’s why we work hard to evaluate our ingredients based, in part, on their impact on environment and human health, and communicate about them openly. All SC Johnson products that are labeled as "non-fragrance" or "fragrance free" do not contain fragrance or scent ingredients. In a limited number of products labeled as "unscented," specifically formulated fragrance is used to neutralize any smell resulting from the product’s ingredient makeup to result in a product that has no scent. For more information, please visit the Fragrance section of this site.
What regulations are you subject to?
We design our products to meet all applicable laws and regulations including:
- Consumer Guarantees Act, and the Fair Trading Act which protect consumer rights and set minimum standards for businesses with respect to advertising and other commercial activities.
- The Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act, Hazardous Substances (Identification) Regulations, and Hazardous Substances (Classification) Regulations, which regulate the identification, classification and management of hazardous substances.
- Weights and Measures Regulations, which regulate weights and measures guidelines for packers and importers of packaged goods.
- CIPAC, WHO, FAO, OECD Guidelines, which are guidelines covering pesticide products issued by the Collaborative International Pesticides Analytical Council, World Health Organization, UN Food and Agriculture Organization, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
- As well as other regulations applicable for particular products or product types.
What is the SC Johnson Greenlist™ process?
It’s our ingredient selection program. We created our Greenlist™ program back in 2001 to help us make the best products we can while protecting human health and the environment.
It includes a four-step evaluation process of every ingredient’s potential impact human health and the environment to help product developers make the best ingredient choices for our products. All the ingredients we review are legal to use, and are often used by other companies. But we take additional steps to evaluate them according to our own high standards.
The Greenlist™ program is grounded by a rigorous, ongoing effort to collect best-in-class data about ingredients and their impacts. It has been reviewed by numerous experts over the years, including a new peer review in 2017.
You can learn more about the SC Johnson Greenlist™ program here.
Aren't natural products better?
Not necessarily. "Natural" or home remedies are not necessarily safer, effective or lower in allergens. In fact, many natural products undergo limited or no scientific testing compared to the extensive toxicological evaluations that companies like SC Johnson require for their product formulations.
Why use additives like dyes, preservatives and fragrances...why not just use the basic ingredients a product needs?
Dyes, preservatives and fragrances provide valuable benefits. Dyes can be an important visual cue that helps you know you are using the product you intended to use. Or for products such as candles, dyes can help you match a color to your home décor. Preservatives prevent the growth of microbes as products sit on store shelves or in the home, helping the products last longer and perform better, without becoming spoiled. Finally, many people associate a fresh fragrance with a clean and welcoming home, and they specifically seek out products that offer this added benefit.
What is d-Limonene and do you use it in your fragrances?
d-Limonene is an essential fragrance material that is distilled from the oil extracted from citrus peels. Many of our fragrances do contain small amounts of d-Limonene. There are some concerns about using d-Limonene because it can sometimes cause skin sensitivity or allergies on contact. d-Limonene is one of the EU 26 allergens, which is a list of common fragrance components that can potentially cause a skin reaction in individuals who are already allergic to those materials.
However, consistent with the IFRA standards, we require that fragrance ingredients only be used at concentrations that have not been shown to result in allergic responses in people who are not sensitive to these materials. And, where required by law, where d-Limonene is used this is clearly stated in the ingredients list on the label of the relevant product.
What are glycol ethers and do you use them in your fragrances?
Glycol ethers are a family of ingredients. While some glycol ethers have been demonstrated to cause reproductive harm, that’s not true of the whole ingredient family. SC Johnson ONLY allows fragrances with glycol ethers that live up to International Fragrance Association standards and our own SC Johnson standards.
What are parabens and do you use them in your fragrances?
Parabens are a family of preservatives that are widely used in cosmetics. Some of our fragrances contain small amounts of parabens to preserve the fragrance and formula. While a small number of people have allergies to preservatives, they play an important role. Without them, many products would not last more than a week or two before being contaminated by bacteria, mold or yeast. So, we believe adding preservatives in the smallest effective quantity makes sense. We only use parabens that live up to International Fragrance Association standards and our own SC Johnson standards.
What are phthalates and do you use them in your fragrances?
Phthalates are actually a large family of ingredients that have many uses. Our fragrance palette does not include phthalates. In 2008, we began requiring our suppliers to phase out phthalates from the fragrances they supply for SC Johnson products.
What are synthetic musks and do you use them in your fragrances?
For many years, musk for fragrance was extracted from the glands of male musk deer. But in recent decades, synthetic musks have replaced natural musks for ethical and economic reasons. Polycyclic and nitromusks are two types of synthetic musks. SC Johnson fragrances do not use nitromusks, which have been linked to reproductive issues. We do use polycyclic musks (for example, Galaxolide and Tonalide), which are commonly used in household products and cosmetics and are not classified as either toxic or bioaccumulative, meaning they are not known to build up in the environment.
That said, some recent studies have detected these polycyclic musks in blood and mother’s milk samples. When we see new information like that, we take extra care in our analysis of an ingredient, but we have not yet seen any scientific indication of adverse effects of polycyclic musks at the levels in our fragrances. As in the case with all our ingredients, if new scientific information emerges about polycyclic musks, we will evaluate the science and where appropriate make changes to our fragrance palette.