The term "cleaning products" actually encompasses a wide variety of products: detergents, air fresheners, waxes for parquet or for car body shop products, and many others.
In all cases they are mixtures of chemical substances. Cleaning products present in the market and available to the general public, are heavily supervised by the Federal and European authorities. The different chemicals that go into them are regulated by the European regulations REACH-CLP.
If they are freely available to you, in their present known state, they do not pose a significant risk to the health or the environment, so long as the product is properly used and handled in accordance with the instructions on the label!
It is therefore necessary to be careful when using these products:
• Observe the safety instructions under all circumstances.
• Keep these products out of the reach of children.
• Wear the specified protective equipment (gloves, goggles, mask, etc.).
• Use your product only in required quantity!
Its use in excess is not more efficient and is sometimes dangerous.
If you use less of it, you may need to repeat the cleaning, which is an additional risk to your health or more pressure on the environment, and of absolutely no use.
• Use resources as appropriate: no need to descale a tap with concentrated acid or run the full cycle of a washing machine in order to clean one t-shirt.
• Do not mix products: chemical reactions may occur, strong explosive reactions between acids and bases, but also sometimes invisible reactions that release toxic compounds.
Finally, note that scientific knowledge is evolving. Some substances or products formerly considered harmless are meanwhile being considered as dangerous. The precautionary principle therefore applies equally at home, be careful, act in favour of the environment and your health: see www.vert-et-propre.be and www.ecolabel.be.
Most cleaning products are detergents.
Since 2011, there is a sectoral agreement on detergents which aims to increase the supply of products with reduced ecological footprint.
Given their use on a large scale and their effects on the environment, these products comply with additional specific requirements in terms of:
• impact on the aquatic environment;
• labelling to better inform the consumers.
According to the European REACH regulations, these mixtures of substances can be classified as hazardous and/or containing biocides (e.g. bleach).