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Do you buy Arm & Hammer cleaning products? I used to.

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View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
16 June 2010, 2:55 PM
Still waiting to see what’s in their products besides baking soda

Do you buy Arm & Hammer cleaning products? I used to.

I have to admit, there's something strangely comforting about that old-fashioned image on the side of their baking soda box. I associated it with, I don't know, something wholesome, like making pancakes with my Dad on Sunday morning. And when I got old enough to buy products to clean my own home, those happy memories buried deep in my brain propelled me to the Arm & Hammer section of the cleaning product aisle, silently commanding me to hoist that yellow bottle of laundry detergent into my cart.

At some slightly more conscious level, I was thinking 'If they make cooking ingredients, their cleaning products have to be safe, right?'

Well maybe. But here's the thing: We asked Arm & Hammer to disclose the chemical ingredients in their cleaning products as required by a New York State law.

They refused.

Wow. Pretty strange behavior from a company that proudly touts its green credentials and markets its products to people like you and me.

Other companies filed their reports (Seventh Generation, Sunshine Makers, SC Johnson). But not Arm & Hammer.

So we sued them, alongside a handful of other cleaning product manufacturing giants. And for the past year they've been fighting us in court.

If they're going to keep marketing their products to people like me, people who want some assurance that we're not coating the insides of our homes with dangerous, toxic chemicals every time we clean, it would only make sense that they'd follow the law and provide officials with the full list of what's in their cleaning products. I'm not a chemist, but I'm pretty sure there are some ingredients besides baking soda in that bottle of Arm & Hammer Clean Shower.

Companies care about what their customers think. And cleaning product companies care a lot about what environmentally savvy consumers think: so-called green products are considered the fastest growing segment of the cleaning product industry.

So why not put your considerable influence to use? Let Arm & Hammer's parent company Church & Dwight know what you think. Add your name to the 10,000+ people who have signed a petition calling on them to follow New York's law. Have more to say? Send an email to the company's CEO James Craigie.

And until Church & Dwight and other manufacturing giants start following the law, you might consider making your own non-toxic household cleaners and sharing your newfound know-how with friends, family, and others in your community (some recipes to get you started are here.) Leigh Attaway Wilcox, a blogger and mother from Dallas, TX and Suzy Sikora, a naturopathy student from Flint, MI and others took the plunge last month by hosting Green Cleaning parties (a really fun concept developed by our friends at Women's Voices for the Earth).

The great folks at DallasMoms, The Blue Marble, GreenerPenny (by Mindy Pennybacker, the author of the fabulous Do One Green Thing), The Thin Green Line, Cheap Like Me, Going Green in 2010, and Chic Vegan are all helping to spread the word.

Now it's your turn! Get started by signing the petition.

What about the just plain box of baking soda? Is that okay? I find it the most amazing product - to clean everything including drains, cat box, put in laundry, eat/drink. Are you talking about that or the more complex expensive cleaning products I never use anyway? What about the laundry detergent? Is that on the no no list too? I don't think any other cleaning product in addition to simple baking soda is necessary - natural vinegar, lemon always safe and effective. Also generic BLEACH and amonia very good cleaners - kills germs. Is that okay? I know can burn but need to be careful.

MOST IMPORTANT thing to me is NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS AND NOT TESTED ON ANIMALS! Why torture a poor rabbit's eyes when we already know something is an irritant.

Well, because I am a nutritionist, I have received many times the videos and questions if baking soda (BS) is really good for cancer. And my answer is that is our healthy pancreas the one who makes the bicarbonate that we really need. I used to say I only use BS for cleaning, but once in an "organic" store in Mexico, we receive a shipment from the US, it was 6 times the price of regular BS. So I researched and found out that the BS that we use in cleaning products (and I wonder if also in over the counter medicine) is a chemical man made product! The US product came from a "natural" mine I think from Wyoming. How about that!
We consumers have so much to learn to really vote with our actions....

I will not use any products that I cannot see what is in it. So if Arm & Hammer won't list the ingredients then I will not use their products, period. So Anonymous you argument that we dont need to know the ingredients is one put out by someone who shoves their heads up where the sun does not shine because they are too lazy to want to know what is being introduced into their home enviroment. For your information I do ask what ingredients are in the food I buy at restaurants, dont tell me I leave and the restaurant has lost me as a customer. I value my health obviously you do not.

Isn't it the point of donating to Earth Justice--to support enforcement (through litigation) of our current consumer/environmental protections laws? After all, isn't it always the justice system that has to enforce our laws? Won't we stand up to make sure the environmental laws we work hard to get passed are actually enforced to protect our health? After all, what motivation would these corporations have to comply with a law that exposes their fraudulent claims, without the pressure brought by courts? One caviat is the possibility many will figure it cheaper to just pay the fine than to comply. Profit margins trump everything. Only if they believe that they'll lose credibility with consumers will they actually change their conduct. So let's hope the lawsuit get MUCH publicity!

That is a great idea. Destroy a company's credibility with a silly lawsuit. People who just wake up everyday and have families as employees with Arm and Hammer will lose their jobs to pay for this litigation. Just another anti-productive policy stance for our county. This is a horrible idea for our economy.

As consumers we have a right to know what ingredients are in the cleansers we use in our homes, the same way we know the ingredients in packaged foods and personal care products (skincare, cosmetics, etc.) Arm & Hammer is not alone in hiding behind wanting to keep their formulas a "trade secret" - the company I am boycotting is SHAKLEE. They go so far as to make very extensive claims of being natural and even organic but then refuse to disclose any of the ingredients in their household products. They are not organic, they hope their customers just fall for the labeling. And we don't know whether they are natural or completely synthetic, either. This information is being kept secret because consumers would be horrified to find out what is in some of these is not to avoid competition, their competition could perform a chemical analysis and pretty much figure out what is in their products if they really wanted to duplicate them. They want their customers in the dark, and for their false claims to be believed!

I have used Arm & Hammer for a long time.My grandmother and mother trusted their products. I will now use vinegar and other natural ways. I know these are safe and natural. Thanks for the info.

I like the idea that Earth Justice sues for : mountaintop mining/oil spills/toxic dumps. Also for slaughtering wolves/turning the Grand Canyon into a mining operation.

Knowing what is Arm & Hammer isn't my first concern.

I'm interested in knowing: what do they inject into animals that might be eaten & what is it doing to our bodies. What are they feeding them so we don't end up having a disaster like 'mad cow' in England. (I was living there at the time).

If I feel as though Arm & Hammer is trying to hide something, I'll just change brands. There are lots of 'green' brands out there to choose from.

I must confess i find it bizarre that there is not an ingredient list, which i find on EVERYTHING in my home, due to consumer influence u now have more info on an avg menu than i will ever need or use god willing. i can't help but be reminded of "other sources" of contamination that only came out after YEARS of denial that A) there was any added ingredients and B) it was harmful.(THINK tobacco,teflon,and thats just one letter of the alphabet.) So just trusting them to do the right thing .....ummm no..... take a look at how well that has served us with deep water oil wells...i'm just sayin

Dear Anonymous,

There would be no need to sue Arm and Hammer if it followed New York law and disclosed the ingredients in its products. Seventh Generation and other companies don't seem to have any problem disclosing their ingredients. Arm and Hammer's reputation won't be "sullied," if it discloses its ingredient list and that list does not contain toxic or harmful chemicals. It's endangering its own reputation by NOT following the law. It is not a "waste of time and legal resources" or "frivolous" to enforce the laws that protect the public health. It should not be necessary for groups like Earthjustice to pay for the cost of analyzing all cleaning products when the ingredients are already known by the manufacturers. Personally, I want to trust Arm and Hammer and hope that they will cooperate with the state soon. We need all of the good, healthy products we can get.

You could not be a bigger scumbag to sue for such a silly and useless purpose. Keeping ingrident lists private is a matter of business necessity; primiarly because the concern of counterfeit products on the market or illegal reproduction. Which Arm and Hammer has been a victim of.

What a waste of time and legal resources. Why didn't you just pay a chemist to analyze the ingridients rather sullying a company's resources and reputation on a frivolous lawsuit? If you found something toxic you could have had cause to initiate the lawsuit. Instead, beacuse the company didn't want to give an ingridient list to you, you sued. Loser.



If I ONLY KNEW what was in ARM & HAMMER ODOR&DIRT ELIMINATOR FOR CARPET & ROOM EXTRA STRENGTH WITH OXY-CLEAN - I would be able to CALL poison care and control and find out if my cats recent medical ailments are caused by it and I MIGHT be able to get treatment for him.

I believe that there is something VERY TOXIC in this product and should NOT BE USED AROUND ANIMALS or SMALL CHILDREN.

IF ARM & HAMMER had AGREED to disclose the information IN THE FIRST PLACE they would not be in the trouble they are in now with lawsuits.

It is ARM & HAMMERS negligence by not listing what is IN their products OR there is something IN their products that they do not want consumers to know about.

WHY ON EARTH should a consumer have to PAY a chemist to get an ingredient list WHICH IS REQUIRED BY LAW to be provided by ARM & HAMMER???


I like your idea of paying a chemist to analyze the ingredients but first of all you should learn how to spell "ingredient".
Your tirade about "loser" and all that makes me think you're the CEO of the company hiding behind the name Anonymous. Earth Justice has a proven record of being a valuable organization and the company Arm & Hammer is sullying it's own reputation by not being forthcoming. What are people going to do? Use the list to make their own baking soda???

You stated yourself you know that baking soda is within the product. But, you are looking for all the ingredients. That is concerning. You don't ask a restaurant what the recipe is to a meal you enjoy, probably because it is implied trade secret.

I couldn't care less that you are insulting my grammer. I have no stake in this debate other then that of a citizen who doesn't want to pay the judges and court system to worry about such a simple problem that again you could rectify with a chemist to prove yourself, THEN, sue.

Regardless, I won't change my mind and neither will you till your lawsuit is resolved. Have fun being a hippie and wasting peoples time for the next couple years in court. Your lawsuit sounds like a waste of time and a hinderance on the productivity of our Nation. I hope you lose.

I want some assurance that we're not coating the insides of our homes with dangerous, toxic chemicals every time we clean, it would only make sense that they'd follow the law and provide officials with the full list of what's in their cleaning products

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