Quite a few of my friends who are into organic food and healthy lifestyles use Mrs. Meyer’s products. These products are available at almost every grocery store and are widely advertised on the Internet. Of course, I couldn’t pass this brand by, especially after hearing from many people that their products are natural and even organic. So, in this post, we will discuss Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning products and their ingredients. And you will see whether they are safe and whether what people say about them is true.
Do natural cleaning products and organic cleaning products exist?
Because of the high search volume for these items on the internet, it seems like a very legitimate question. Let’s give an answer to it.
Can cleaning products be natural?
To begin, the term “natural” has no legal definition, and, thus, its meaning may differ depending on the context. Even though a product may contain natural ingredients, such as extracts and oils, it does not mean that the whole product is natural. Additionally, if a label describes its ingredients as “naturally-derived,” it can be rather misleading. For example, Cocamide DEA which is considered a carcinogen is derived from coconut oil. Another example is Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), which can also be made from coconut oil. But what does the derivation process involve?
Firstly, coconut oil is turned into fatty acids that are used to derive lauryl alcohol. Then, lauryl alcohol is treated with sulfur trioxide gas or chlorosulfuric acid to produce Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. Finally, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is treated with carcinogenic ethylene oxide to make Sodium Laureth Sulfate. This process is called ethoxylation. As a result, carcinogenic 1,4-dioxane is produced and can remain in the final product. But you won’t find 1,4-dioxane on the label, because it is not an ingredient but an impurity that does not legally have to be disclosed.
So, are Mrs. Meyer’s products natural? We will find out as soon as we look at their ingredients.
Can cleaning products be organic?
Often people refer to cleaning products as “organic.” If you want to be sure that the product you are using is organic, you need to look for an organic certification, such as the USDA Organic logo. Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning products do not have an organic certification, so they are not organic.
As you may know, for a product to be certified “organic” by the USDA, at least 95% of its ingredients must be of agricultural origin and organic. Besides, the USDA has very strict regulations for the production, handling, labeling, and enforcement of all USDA organic products.
Thus, if you are looking for an organic laundry detergent, head to my post about two certified organic brands.
Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning products
The Mrs. Meyer’s products that we will talk about include household cleaners, laundry detergent, dish soap, and hand soap.
Mrs. Meyer’s household cleaners
To begin, here are the Mrs. Meyer’s Mint Multi-Surface Everyday Cleaner ingredients:
Water; Decyl Glucoside; [Fragrance: Mentha Viridis (Spearmint) Leaf Oil ; Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Peel Oil; Dipropylene Glycol; Methyldihydrojasmonate; 2,6-Dimethyl-7-Octen-2-Ol; Ethylene Brassylate; Amyl Cinnamal; Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil; 3,7-Dimethyloctan-3-Ol; Benzyl Benzoate; Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Peel Oil; Linalyl Acetate; Limonene]; Lauryl Glucoside; Sodium Citrate; Sodium Methyl 2-Sulfolaurate; Citric Acid; Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate; Methylisothiazolinone; Benzisothiazolinone (source)
Contains Fragrance Allergens
The ingredients I would like to draw your attention to are fragrance and preservatives.
Fragrance in Mrs. Meyer’s products
Above all, I want to praise Mrs. Meyer’s for disclosing their fragrance ingredients. Because manufacturers are not required to disclose the ingredients in their fragrance formulations, many times we see ‘fragrance’ on products’ labels as if it were just one ingredient. But it is not. That is to say, fragrance is a mixture of multiple ingredients, many of which can cause allergies. When you do not know what the ingredients are, you can’t make a fully informed decision about the product. Therefore, I applaud Mrs. Meyer’s for providing a full list of their fragrance ingredients. In addition, they also warn us that the products contain fragrance allergens.
For instance, the ingredients in the Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning products that may be associated with allergy are Amyl Cinnamal, Benzyl Benzoate, Linalyl Acetate, and Limonene. As for the other fragrance ingredients, even though their rating is 1 (with 10 as most toxic), they have limited safety data as indicated in the EWG Skin Deep database.
Preservatives among Mrs. Meyer’s ingredients
The preservatives I see in many household cleaners as well as in some Mrs. Meyer’s products are methylisothiazolinone and benzisothiazolinone.
Methylisothiazolinone has a rating of 4-7 out of 10 in the Skin Deep database and is associated with contact allergy. (By the way, the EWG seems to be making a lot of changes to their ratings recently. For example, Methylisothiazolinone’ rating used to be 7 and now it is 4-7.) Moreover, the American Contact Dermatitis Society named this ingredient Contact Allergen of the Year for 2013. Further, lab studies on the brain cells of mammals suggest that MI may be neurotoxic.
As for Benzisothiazolinone, the Skin Deep database rates it at 3-6 (used to be 6). The European Union’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) considers benzisothiazolinone safe for use as a preservative in cosmetics products up to 0.01% with respect to systemic toxicity. However, the SCCS states that Benzisothiazolinone is a known sensitizer. So far, there is no information on what may be safe levels of exposure to benzisothiazolinone in cosmetic products from the point of view of sensitization. Until safe levels of exposure have been established, the use of benzisothiazolinone in cosmetic products as a preservative or for other functions cannot be considered safe in relation to sensitization (source).
Certainly, the preservatives in Mrs. Meyer’s products are not the best choices and do not add to their safety. Therefore, if you use Mrs. Meyer’s cleaner, please wear gloves.
Mrs. Meyer’s laundry detergent
Next, let us look at the ingredients of one of the Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning products – Lavender Laundry Detergent:
Water; Laureth-7; Lauryl Glucoside; Sodium Methyl 2-Sulfolaurate; Fatty Acid, C8 – C18 And C18 Unsatd.; [Fragrance: (Coumarin, Geraniol, Limonene, Linalool); Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil ; Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil ; Linalool; Geraniol; Geranyl Acetate; Coumarin; Phenethyl Alcohol; P-Methoxybenzyl Acetate; Hexyl Salicylate; Camphor; Pinene; Limonene; Lavandula Hybrida Oil; Dipropylene Glycol; Linalyl Acetate; Limonene; Pinus Palustris Oil; Eucalyptol]; Sodium Citrate; Subtilisins (Protease) Enzyme Blend; Amylase Enzyme Blend; Mannanase Enzyme Blend; Lipase Enzyme Blend; Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate; Glycerin; Calcium Chloride; Sodium Chloride; Sodium Sulfate; Potassium Hydroxide; Methylisothiazolinone; Benzisothiazolinone (source)
Contains Fragrance Allergens
We can see that the preservatives we discussed above are here, too. Also, there are some additional ingredients in fragrance that are associated with allergy. Besides, there is an ethoxylated ingredient in this laundry detergent.
Fragrance ingredients of concern
Besides limonene that we talked about before, there are such concerning ingredients as Coumarin, Geraniol, and Linalool. They are rated between 2 and 5 in the Skin Deep database (with 10 as most toxic), have fair research data, and pose a risk of allergy and immunotoxicity. I hope the day will come when Mrs. Meyer’s products will include unscented versions.
Ethoxylated ingredients in Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning products
The ethoxylated ingredient in Mrs. Meyer’s detergent is Laureth-7 with a rating of 3 and limited data in the Skin Deep database. Because it is the second on the ingredient list, its amount is quite high.
To clarify, here is what I do not like about ethoxylated ingredients. They are created through the process of ethoxylation in which carcinogenic ethylene oxide is reacted with other ingredients to make them less harsh on the skin. As a result, carcinogenic 1,4-dioxane is created and can remain in the end product as a contaminant. In addition, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) studies show that 1,4-dioxane can penetrate human skin. As consumers, we do not know if there is any residue left in the products we use. However, I do not believe products that we use on bodies or at home should be made with carcinogenic chemicals because they are not good for the environment and workers. That is why I don’t recommend Mrs. Meyer’s products – or any other products for that matter – that contain ethoxylated ingredients.
Mrs. Meyer’s dish soap
To continue, these are the ingredients of Mrs. Meyer’s Rose Dish Soap:
Water; Sodium Lauryl Sulfate; Lauryl Glucoside; Lauramine Oxide; Polysorbate 20; [Fragrance: (Citronellal, Geraniol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Linalool); Rosa Damascena Flower Oil; Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Sweet Orange) Peel Oil]; Glycerin; Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice; Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate; Citric Acid; Methylisothiazolinone; Benzisothiazolinone; Sodium Chloride (source)
Contains Fragrance Allergens
As you can see, the dish soap ingredients also have methylisothiazolinone and benzisothiazolinone preservatives. In addition to some concerning fragrance ingredients mentioned above, there is Hexyl Cinnamal. The Skin Deep database rates it at 3 (with 10 as most toxic), because it may cause allergy and immunotoxicity. Moreover, there is Polysorbate 20 which is an ethoxylated ingredient.
Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap (H3)
Finally, these are the ingredients in one of the other Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning products – Rose Liquid Hand Soap:
Water; Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine; Sodium Methyl 2-Sulfolaurate; Glycerin; [Fragrance: Rosa Damescena Flower Oil; Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil; (Citronellal, Geraniol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Linalool)]; Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil; Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice; Disodium 2-Sulfolaurate; Citric Acid; Sodium Chloride; Potassium Sorbate; Sodium Benzoate (source)
The fragrance ingredients contain some of those that we discussed above – geraniol, hexyl cinnamal, and linalool. On the other hand, it is great to see that not all Mrs. Meyer’s products have methylisothiazolinone and benzisothiazolinone preservatives. We will talk about the ones used in the hand soap further. Also, there are surfactants in this product that I want to discuss.
Preservatives in Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap
The two preservatives used in Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap are Potassium Sorbate and Sodium Benzoate.
Both Potassium Sorbate and Sodium Benzoate are food-grade preservatives. You can see them in processed non-organic food. Again, that does not mean that they are safe to eat. However, I believe that they are much safer than methylisothiazolinone and benzisothiazolinone. In fact, they are on my approved list of preservatives. I recommend products containing them on my blog. By the way, the absence of preservatives in a product is concerning too and sometimes even dangerous. You can read more about that in my post about WaterWipes baby wipes.
As a matter of fact, Sodium Benzoate may cause an allergic reaction in some sensitive people if used in concentrations over 5% (source). However, according to the Ingredient Glossary, there is less than 1% of sodium benzoate in Mrs. Meyer’s products.
Note that Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap contains citric acid, too. If you are concerned about the interaction between sodium benzoate and citric acid, please check out my Sodium Benzoate & Citric Acid Myth post.
Surfactants in Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning products
The first surfactant is Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine. It is rated 1 (with 10 as most toxic) and has limited data in the EWG Skin Deep database. Nonetheless, in my opinion, it should have a higher rating for the following reasons. Firstly, “with limited data” means that there are not enough safety studies. Secondly, it is a close relative of cocamidopropyl betaine which was named the Allergen of the Year in 2004 from the American Contact Dermatitis Society. In my post about the safety of cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine, you can learn about the chemical used to produce this ingredient, and also why it is considered a sensitizer.
In conclusion, I believe Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap is not bad. That is to say, it is an improvement over a lot of other hand soaps you can read about in my Non-Toxic Hand Soap guide. However, you can do better if you want to.
Grove Collaborative and Mrs. Meyer’s products
Grove Collaborative is an online store for those seeking non-toxic products. Currently, they send Mrs. Meyer’s products for free if your order exceeds $20. After a brief look into the Grove Collaborative, I can tell you that not all their products meet my safety requirements. Thus, it’s not one of those companies where you can say that all the products are toxic, or all are safe. Hence, if you seek help in determining their products’ safety, book a consultation with me.
Mrs. Meyer’s vs. Branch Basics
Just as some of Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning products, Branch Basics uses glucoside surfactants. These surfactants are considered mild and, hence, are common in baby shampoos and washes. Check out my research into glucosides to make your own decision about their safety.
As for other ingredients in Branch Basics, they are the safest I have found in a household cleaner. In fact, Branch Basics can be used as a body wash, pet wash, dish soap, wood floor cleaner etc. Plus, it will save you money! How? Well, you can learn about that in my comprehensive Branch Basics Safe Cleaning Products Review. This post also describes some ways to use Branch Basics around your home with peace of mind regarding its safety.
Conclusion about Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning products
In short, to answer the question posed in the title as to the safety of Mrs. Meyer’s products, unfortunately, I do not recommend them. However, there are noticeable changes in their products, which I attribute to consumer power. Therefore, thank you, my reader, for being active in the consumer market and affecting manufacturers’ decisions.
The first change in Mrs. Meyer’s products as I mentioned above is the disclosure of their fragrance ingredients and warning us that there are allergens among them. Another change is that Mrs. Meyer’s no longer claims that it has natural cleaning products.
As always, I emphasize the importance of looking at the ingredients. Your Savvy Consumer Superpower Prompt Sheet will help you estimate a product’s safety in a matter of seconds. Please feel free to visit my IRLFY Shop to check out the products I approve of and recommend. I am especially fond of these non-toxic cleaners that won’t break the bank and give you peace of mind.
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