Seventh Generation has listed ingredients on its home care product labels since it began making them in 1990. We do this because we believe that consumers have a right to know what ingredients are used in the products they buy, and because we are proud of the care we take in our ingredient choices.
As our formulas have improved over time, so too has our communication about them. For example, where we once described our ingredients simply as "plant-based surfactants," we now describe them using International Nomenclature for Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) names, familiar to most consumers as the ingredient names used on cosmetic products like skin creams and shampoos.
The origin of ingredients is often of concern to consumers, particularly the origin of ingredients that contain the element carbon. Carbon can be obtained from either plant oils or from petroleum or other fossil fuels. Because oil from plants can be harvested each year, but oil from petroleum takes millions of years for nature to make, Seventh Generation uses as many ingredients from plant oils as possible.
Often, oils taken from plants need to be modified before they can be used effectively in a product. Seventh Generation uses five terms to communicate if an ingredient is from a plant oil, and how much it has been modified, if at all. These terms (Natural, Plant-Derived, Plant-Based, Plant-Modified Synthetic, and Synthetic) are defined as follows:
Ingredients that are derived from plant oils without any chemical modification are considered by Seventh Generation to be natural. These ingredients are listed on the product label without any further description. An example of a natural ingredient used in Seventh Generation products is an essential oil used as a fragrance, lavendula angustifolia (lavender).
Some ingredients obtain their carbon exclusively from plants, but have been modified from their state found in nature to provide functional performance. Seventh Generation refers to such ingredients as plant-derived. For example, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) contains carbon derived exclusively from coconut oil or palm-kernel oil that is modified with sulfur and oxygen (that come from nature) to produce a cleaning agent. Because all the carbon in the SLS that Seventh Generation uses is from plants, Seventh Generation refers to SLS as plant-derived.
Sometimes a plant oil is minimally modified with carbon from other sources to improve its performance. When carbon in the modified plant oil is mostly (more than 50%) from the plant, Seventh Generation refers to the ingredient as plant-based. An example of a plant-based ingredient is lauramine oxide, which contains an average of 12.5 carbons from plant oils, and two carbons from natural gas or petroleum.
When most (50% or more) of the carbon in an ingredient is from sources other than a plant, Seventh Generation identifies the ingredient as plant-modified synthetic. ppg-10-laureth-7, used in Seventh Generation automatic dishwashing products, is a plant-modified synthetic.
Finally, if the carbon in an ingredient is derived exclusively from petroleum or natural gas, the ingredient is synthetic. An example of this is methylisothiazolinone, used as a preservative in many household and personal care products.
Many ingredients do not contain carbon. Typically, they are found in nature as minerals. Seventh Generation considers a mineral used without any chemical modification to be natural, and is listed on our product labels without any further description or with the description, mineral. Sodium chloride is an example of this. If the mineral has been processed to form an ingredient, it is referred to as mineral-derived or mineral-based. Sodium percarbonate, used as a stain-removal agent in Seventh Generation Laundry Powder, Automatic Dishwashing Powder, and Automatic Dishwashing Pacs, is described as mineral-based. Sodium hydroxide, used to adjust pH in Seventh Generation laundry liquids is described as mineral-based.
Please read labels carefully before you buy a product, and if you have questions, be certain to ask the manufacturer. We believe you have a right to know what is in the products you buy, and we will continue to communicate this information to you on our product labels an on our website as clearly as we can.
Some of our product formulations require the use of a preservative, which helps prevent microorganism growth (see list below for products using a preservative). Currently there are no natural preservatives that have been proven safe and effective in cleaning products like ours. However, we have been working to improve the authenticity of our preservative system and are diligently searching for a wholly natural preservative system.
We have transitioned from the synthetic (petroleum-derived) preservative hexahydro-1,3,5-tris (2-hydroxyethyl)-s-triazine (THT) to another synthetic preservative which is a combination of methyl-4-isothiazolin-3-one and 1,2-benzisothiazolin-3-one (MIT/BIT). The reason for this transition was that THT is a formaldehyde donor and formaldehyde is an allergen and known carcinogen when inhaled, however it is not a carcinogen when applied to the skin, the most likely route of exposure from a cleaning product. MIT/BIT is a synthetic preservative, however it is not a formaldehyde donor, is biodegradable, and has been proven to be non-irritating at the use level in our products.
We believe it is important for you to know what preservatives we are using, and to understand why. While we know that this transition to MIT/BIT as our new preservative system does not solve all of our authenticity challenges, we feel confident this is the best option for us at this time, and that it is both safe and effective for you and your family. Please stay tuned as we continue our search for a safe, effective and natural preservative system. (this does not account for the preservative used in Baby Wipes or in Hand Wash which are different)
Which Seventh Generation products have preservatives?
Seventh Generation's Natural Dish Liquid, 2X Concentrated Laundry Liquids, Delicate Care Laundry Liquid, Fabric Softener Liquid, Hand Wash, Baby Wipes, All Purpose Cleaner and Glass Cleaner require a preservative.
Our relationship with CleanWell company
When we set out to bring to market EPA registered disinfecting cleaning products made from essential oils, we knew we had our work cut out for us. In the hunt for disinfectants that met our strict standards, CleanWell Company was a natural fit. The CleanWell™ scientific team was the first to discover how to blend thyme oil to kill 99.99% of household germs. Just like us, they're dedicated to providing healthy ways to care for our families and homes. And just like us, they won’t compromise to get the job done.
The results of our partnership are our Seventh Generation Disinfecting Cleaners. They have the tough cleaning power you expect from Seventh Generation, along with CleanWell™ patented disinfecting technology. We are proud to partner on this streak-free formula that easily cleans and deodorizes your home and other important places with the disinfecting power of thymol, a component of thyme oil, which is obtained from the common garden herb thyme.
The rewards of this approach are clear: A botanical disinfecting household cleaning solution that kills 99.99% of household germs* botanically on hard nonporous surfaces.
Want to learn more? Visit CleanWell Company on the web!
*Refer to label for details.