Damaging ingredients in toilet cleaners
Toilet cleaners usually contain chlorine bleach to kill off bacteria and microbes. Many mainstream toilet cleaner makers portray the toilet bowl as one of the dirtiest places in the house and we need to use these deadly chemicals to keep ourselves safe.
Chlorine bleach (aka sodium hypochlorite) is a corrosive chemical, toxic if ingested, an eye and respiratory irritant, can irritate the lungs and eyes, and in waterways can become toxic organochlorines, compounds rarely found in nature and which can take centuries to decompose. The industry says that chlorine bleach traces are present at such low concentrations in waste waters, that there is no real possibility of the formation of trace toxic by-products.
According to Lucy Siegle in The Guardian:
"But the real ethical issue centres around manufacture. Bleach is from the organochlorine family of chemicals, compounds rarely found in nature and which can take centuries to decompose. Greenpeace has called for a complete end to organochlorine production.
“Bleach does the job, but what is the job and is it necessary? As we live in the Age of Bacteria immunologist, Gerald N Callahan, sums up: 'Neither humans nor micro-organisms benefit from fully destroying the other. This is not a war, as it has often been described, even though we have an impressive array of weapons - bactericidal cribs and mattresses, toilet cleaners... If it were (a war), we would have lost long ago, overpowered by sheer numbers and evolutionary speed. This is... like a waltz that will last for all of human history. We must hold to our partners carefully and dance well.'"
Other Toxic chemicals
We have rated all the companies for their toxic chemicals policies. The companies which received a best rating had a policy because they had banned the use of parabens, phthalates and triclosan (see our feature on toxic chemicals for why we have chosen these chemicals) were:
Palm Oil in toilet cleaners
Some of the brands we reviewed are completely palm oil free across all products. They were: Bide, Greenscents and Planet Detox.
Greenscents was certified as palm oil free by the International Palm Oil Free Certification Trademark POFCAP.
Several others (Bio-D, Fill Refill, Miniml, SESI, Sodasan, and Splosh) scored our best rating for stating that all of their palm ingredients, including derivatives, were certified by the RSPO.
Animal testing and cruelty-free toilet cleaners
In October 2015, the UK Government banned the testing of ‘finished’ household products on animals and introduced a ‘qualified ban’ on testing the ingredients on animals. But it’ll make little difference to animal welfare. This is because no animals have been used for testing ‘finished’ household products in the UK since 2010. It’s usually the ingredients not the ‘finished’ products that are tested on animals.
Ethical Consumer rates all companies selling cosmetics on their animal testing policy. Companies will score a best rating if they have a policy not to test on animals, have a fixed cut-off date (a date after which none of their products or ingredients will have been tested on animals), and are not selling to markets, such as China, where animal testing of products is required by law.
The following brands scored best ratings for their Animal Testing policy: Astonish, ATTITUDE, Bio-D, Bide, ecoleaf, Ecozone, Fill Refill, Greenscents, Miniml, Planet Detox, SESI and Sodasan.
Those whose entire product range was certified as cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny were Astonish, ATTITUDE, Bio-D, ecoleaf, Ecozone, Fill Refill, Sodasan and Greenscents.
Ecover has been targeted for the animal testing of its parent company, SC Johnson.
Vegan toilet cleaners
Virtually all the toilet cleaners in this guide were either certified or marketed as vegan except for brands made by multinational companies at the bottom of the score table: Easy, Duck, Cillit Bang, Harpic and Domestos.
Organic toilet cleaners
Only two products in this guide were certified as organic, Greenscents and Bentley Organics. They are marked on the score table with [O].