The Difference Between Natural and Organic

What is the difference between "natural" and "organic" cleaning products?  Both give the impression that they are better for us and contain only ingredients “naturally” derived and therefore safe for us to use in our homes, right?


Unfortunately, the use of the word “natural” on cleaning product labels is not regulated. These products can contain GMOs (genetically modified organisms), Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (an artificial surfactant that can cause skin irritation, endocrine disruption, etc) and other ingredients that clearly are not “natural” or safer for the environment.

For example, here is the ingredient list for Earth Friendly's Dishmate (hand dish) product, copied from their own website:

Ingredients: Water, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Coco-Sulfate, Cocamidopropylamine Oxide, Phenoxyethanol and Methylisothiazolinone (synthetic preservatives), Natural Fragrance.

If you can't read the ingredients and understand what they are, you are in trouble!  The only thing "natural" about this Earth Friendly dish product is the perfume!  

Here is another example from Seventh Generation's Laundry Detergent, again copied from their own website::

Ingredients: Water, laureth-6, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), sodium citrate, glycerin, oleic acid, boric acid, sodium hydroxide, calcium chloride, protease, amylase and mannanase (enzymes), benzisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone (synthetic preservatives)

How can Seventh Generation advertise their laundry detergent as "natural" when they include ingredients such as SLS, enzymes, and synthetic preservatives?  Unfortunately many consumers are fooled by a nice looking "earthy" label without ever reading the ingredients on the back.

Certified USDA Organic products on the other hand are very different. Products with the certified USDA organic symbol on them have had to go through a rigorous process to ensure they meet strict standards, do not contain harmful chemicals (like SLS), and must be compromised of at least 95% or higher organically produced ingredients.

Unlike the unregulated "natural" products, all of the certified organic products have to be audited, inspected, and approved by third party agencies such as the prestigious Oregon Tilth Company (OTCO). 

Big difference, right?

So the next time you head to the store, stay clear of “natural” cleaning products, and only purchase cleaning products with the Certified USDA Organic seal on them.

Remember, “natural” really means nothing!