By Alexandra Zissu, Editorial Director

Few product labels are more difficult to decode than those on conventional cleaning products. This is troubling because cleaners (even those labeled “green” ) frequently contain hazardous chemicals. The information—or lack thereof—on their labels can be the difference between health and illness. Unfortunately, large loopholes in federal law allow these toxic ingredients to remain largely secret. Cleaning product formulas are considered trade secrets, and true green and eco-friendly cleaners are few and far between. 

It’s up to consumers to separate the good from the bad and the ugly, and choose the safer cleaner options. It can be tricky without full ingredient lists, but here’s how you can decipher cleaning product labels:

Even if you see the full ingredients listed on a product, you should still be wary. These aren’t automatically safe.