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Household cleaning products

Cleaning products (such as soap, washing-up liquid, washing powder, fabric softener, bleach and disinfectant) cannot be placed on the market unless they comply with requirements set out in the Detergents Regulations 2005.

Products must pass various biodegradability tests and be properly labelled to give consumers information about their content. The Regulations do not explicitly mention nano, but they cover all household and industrial detergents whether or not they contain nanomaterials.

Manufacturers and suppliers of cleaning products will also have to fulfil certain requirements set out in European chemicals law. For further information, see the REACH page.

How effective are current laws?

Some concerns have been raised, however, that the testing methods may not be suitable for nanomaterials (click here). Lots of work is being carried out to improve current testing methods for nano generally. For more information, see the Introduction to Law and Nano page.

The Regulations do not require the separate labelling of nano ingredients in detergent products. Some people argue that consumers have a right to know whether the products they buy contain nanomaterials, and that all nano-based products should clearly be labelled as ‘nano’.

Does the law make sure cleaning products containing nano are safe?

As well as the law described above, cleaning products containing nano will also be covered by the General Product (Safety) Regulations 2005 which state that products cannot be put on the market unless they are safe to use.

Although the general safety requirement is very stringent, some people are concerned that we don’t yet have proper risk assessment procedures to decide whether nano-based products are safe or unsafe. A great deal of research is being conducted to develop nano-specific safety testing methods. For further information, see the Introduction to Law and Nano page.

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