Have you ever wondered what makes your dish soap smell like lemons or your moisturizer smell like vanilla? It’s often many things but it’s very rarely actually lemons or vanilla in your product.

Welcome to the strange world of ‘fragrance’.

Clorox has just announced they will disclose the ingredients in the fragrances of its cleaning products; Clorox makes products such as bleach, Pine Sol and Tilex.

Check almost any cleaning product or personal care product and you’ll see ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’ in the ingredients list. While corporations are legally obliged to list their ingredients, the chemical blend that makes your product smell nice is actually considered a trade secret. They don’t have to reveal the ingredients in fragrance.

Many fragrances include worrying ingredients that can adversely affect our health. The International Fragrance Association has listed over 3000 chemicals that can be included in ‘fragrance’ blends, including musk ketone (on our toxic ten list), styrene (a study earlier this year found it to be “at a minimum, reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen”) and phthalates, a known endocrine disrupter and has been linked to asthma.

Luckily, it’s becoming easier for consumers to find safe alternatives that are either fragrance free or list the fragrance chemicals on the label. In addition to the Clorox announcement, SC Johnson, for instance, the makers of products such as Windex, Pledge and Ziploc, also discloses the chemicals they use in fragrance. SC Johnson also has eliminated a wide range of problematic chemicals from its products including triclosan, bisphenol-A and phthalates.

This increased disclosure of ingredients and elimination of toxic chemicals in popular cleaning products is the result of the public’s push for greater transparency and accountability. It is a great step forward and we hope more companies will make the same moves.

Take action! Sign our petition asking for stricter government regulations on toxic chemicals, download our toxic ten shopping guide and find out more about toxic chemicals.