Why Household Products’ Labels Have Hazard Symbols and What Do They Mean?

Harmonized criteria for products’ classification and labeling rules (see here) are some of the tools that the EU has imposed to protect consumers’ health and the environment. These rules oblige manufacturers and importers to package and then label their products according to the classes they fall into. 

However, consumers still know little about the labeling rules. Most of us can’t answer why and how some products have hazard symbols on the labels to warn about their potential dangers while others don’t. Sometimes the labels on seemingly harmless products can look pretty frightening. In contrast, the products which can irritate the skin or the eyes may tell no such information whatsoever. 

Knowing how to read product labels is an important skill. Thus, we’ve decided to dedicate a few blog posts to this topic. Let’s start from the very basics!

man with home care products in front of him

Hazard Symbols on the Labels of Household Products’ Packages

European Regulations on household products labeling are strict. They ensure that all the substances made for cleaning follow the uniform standards of information provision to the customers. Similar labeling, pictograms, and statements are mandatory. 

Interestingly, although ~70% of cosmetic and household products’ ingredients are the same, their regulations and labeling rules differ. Cosmetics, such as soaps or shampoos can be sold without pictograms or phrases highlighting potential dangers. So, although PROBIOTIC CRAFT’s dishwashing liquid is more gentle than a bunch of hand soaps available in the market, soap manufacturers don’t need to inform the customer about its potential harms.

However, EU law does not make a difference between petroleum-based and plant-based ingredients – the regulation is the same for everybody. Hence, pictograms will not help to answer whether home care are made from oil sub products or plants. You have to carefully go through all the ingredients to see that.

As you know by now, not all labeled products are potentially dangerous. Most of them can be safe and beneficial if you use them in moderation and correctly (following the instructions on the packages). Let us explain what “correctly” and “in moderation” actually mean by taking lemons as an example.

Correct Use

However, lemons can also be potentially harmful. Just think what would happen if you squeezed lemon juice directly into the eyes. A severe eye irritation or even eye damage may occur because of the improperly used “innocent” product. 

Since we only squeeze lemons into the food that we eat, we never think about the potentially harmful impact of this fruit. Similarly, if you only use household products to serve their primary purpose, you’ll experience only their positive effects. 

There are no requirements to label the lemons in the EU. But the regulation on household products makes the producers highlight the primary purposes of their products and inform about the harms of misusing them.

Moderate Amounts

Although lemons are considered healthy, consuming dozens of them at once and initiating intense heartburn or nausea would be unimaginably silly. However, nothing wrong happens when we squeeze a moderate amount of lemon juice into a glass of water.

Similarly, concentrated household products should be used responsibly. Thus, you don’t want to pour much product directly on your hands, rub it into the skin and then keep it for some time.

But suppose you follow the instructions on the package and dilute a few milliliters of dish soap or 20 milliliters of floor cleaner in 5 l of water. In that case, the concentration of cleaning solution becomes small, and there is no risk that it will irritate the skin.

For example, the pH of our floor cleaner and dishwashing liquid is approximately 7 when diluted. That’s like pure water, so such mixtures could not be irritating or all the more corrosive.  

Wrap Up

EU’s aim to provide customers complete information about the products they use everyday is genuinely attentive (although not always complete or thorough enough). 

Sadly, we observe some home care products’ manufacturers trying to avoid strict labeling requirements by not showing all the information they are obliged to. Intentionally misleading the customers is a morally wrong practice that is also harmful to all the businesses in the sector. Therefore, at PROBIOTIC CRAFT, we are trying to educate the customers instead of searching for ways to get around. Expect more detailed articles about household product labelings, ingredients, and regulations coming soon!