Greenwash Of The Week: Holy Cow Cleaning Product.


----------- Sponsored Links -----------
----------- Sponsored Links -----------

I came across this weeks Greenwash on the Organic Consumers website, and it involves a company using a fake “Organic” label on a cleaning product. Seems the company, Holy Cow Products, proclaims to make cleaners that “contain a blend of soaps (surfactants, emulsifiers, and lifters) which are derived from organic and natural resources and are biodegradable” They think their product is so good, in fact, that they made up their own version of the USDA Organic Certification label. Take a look:

And here is what the real USDA label looks like:

Now, your average person wouldn’t even notice that the label is a fake and just take the company at their word. This is the kind of Greenwash we need to look out for — don’t let companies get away with this kind of b.s.!

----------- Sponsored Links -----------
----------- Sponsored Links -----------


  1. Incredible how many of these are out there… kind of makes sense when you think about the number of dollars that go into product packaging development and marketing.

    Caveat Emptor has never been such valuable advice.

  2. I just bought a bottle of Holy Cow All Purpose Cleaner.

    Does anyone know exactly what ingredients ARE in this product and where it is produced?

    It readily lists what types of ingredients it does NOT contain. Isn’t there some law that warrants ingredient disclosure and what country the product is produced in?

  3. The only thing the two labels have in common is that they are both circular shaped. The official “USDA Organic” label pictured above, with a red circle and two shades of green font, is a label used by the USDA for food products and cosmetics. It has nothing to do whatsoever with cleaning products. The black and white information on the Holy Cow label simply states that this cleaning product meets the USDA standards and requirements for cleaning around food preparation areas. Quite a difference, wouldn’t you agree?

  4. Brent… David is right. The resemblance is so close it’s obvious that this is intentionally designed to mislead people.

    I also find it curious that the “USDA Certification” you have posted on your website is from some company that can’t be found by any online search. The address doesn’t come up on a Google map search and the email address is at Where did you dig this ‘certifier’ up?

    It’s also interesting that this “Certification” says that your cleaners “are suitable for use in all departments in facilities inspected by U.S.D.A Food Safety & Inspection Services (FSIS). This sounds a lot different than some kind of official USDA Certification.

    I also find it interesting that the document continues to say “All surfaces must be thoroughly rinsed with potable water prior to reintroduction of foodstuff.”

    It seems like there is little healthy or environmentally friendly about this stuff you sell. IMHO

    Good catch David!

  5. True, consumers are not stupid at all. They can see right through hidden agendas.

    Michael, if you need help searching for information you’re looking for, it is easier to just ask. The “certifier” that was “dug up” has more experience and knowledge than both you and I combined! Be happy to help you out.

    FYI, most people don’t like the taste of soap, so it’s best to rinse the soap off the surface before preparing food on it!

    Finally, it just so happens that Holy Cow is one of the most effective and environmentally friendly cleaning products ever created. You should try some soon. You’ll love it!

  6. Brent… The real problem here is that your not offering any evidence for the claims you make about your products.

    What do you put in your products?

    I read through the MSDS docs on your website and found that your product ingredients are not listed. I also found some concerning warnings in the first aid section. This is a quote from your website and describes the first aid procedures for your all-purpose cleaner:

    INHALATION: Remove victim to fresh air. If breathing does not returned to normal, GET MEDICAL ATTENTION.

    EYE CONTACT: Rinse Eyes in clear running water for at least 15 minutes lifting upper and lower lids periodically to assure complete rinsing. GET IMMEDIATE MEDIAL ATTENTION.

    SKIN CONTACT: Wash thoroughly with soap and water. If irritation results and persists, GET MEDICAL ATTENTION.

    INGESTION: If swallowed, promptly drink a large quantity (several glasses of milk, egg whites or gelatin solution. If these are not available, drink large quantities of water. GET MEDIAL ATTENTION IMMEDIATELY.


    I’m no expert in household cleaners so I picked a well known green brand for comparison. I found all their product ingredients listed and below is a sample from the first aid section of their MSDS sheet for the Seventh Generation ‘Free & Clear Natural All Purpose Cleaner’.

    Eyes- Flush eyes with water immediately after contact. Call a physician if irritation persists.

    Skin- Not Applicable

    Inhalation- Not Applicable.

    Ingestion- Drink 4-8 ounces of water or milk immediately. If prolonged nausea or pain occurs call a doctor.


    I imagine it’s impossible to make a cleaner that doesn’t make you sick when you drink it or splash it in your eyes but I have an increased respect for Seventh Generation for publishing the facts to back up their claims.

    The world of social media is a great place to promote brands. Here is your moment to shine. Instead of making any more claims would you please provide some evidence to back them up?

  7. Michael – Guess he isn’t going to tell you the ingredients, so don’t bother anymore. It’s our job to point this kind of crap out to consumers.

  8. Michael, you are correct as you stated that it is “impossible to make a cleaner that doesn’t make you sick if you drink it or splash it in your eyes”. If that were to happen, one would only hope that the cleaner would be either of the two you mentioned above…Holy Cow or Seventh Generation, since both are extremely safe and non-toxic products.

    FYI, the first aide instructions referenced above from the MSDS sheets for both Holy Cow All Purpose Cleaner and from Seventh Generation All Purpose Cleaner are essentially the same instructions. They state that if one splashes either of the products in the eye, rinse with water…if ingested, drink water or milk immediately (or gelatin or egg whites as additional options). Although Holy Cow carries an extremely low health risk of 1-0-0 on the MSDS (about the same as water), the folks that create the Holy Cow MSDS lean toward the side of cautiousness. Therefore, instructions regarding inhalation and skin exposure are added to include suggestions of proper ventilation and rinsing of the skin.

    Although very protective of the formulation, Holy Cow contains a blend of soaps and surfactants, each one derived from natural and organic resources, that work extremely well together to make a unique and extremely effective cleaner. A natural fragrance derived from a Frecia flower is added to create a pleasant scent. There have been many advances in surfactants derived from plants and plant materials in very recent years to make this possible. In fact, the Holy Cow Glass Cleaner contains surfactants that are 100% plant derived-an accomplishment that very few if any others have achieved.

    Happy cleaning!

  9. Thanks David… yeah I was just going to add a compliment to him on his spin doctoring.

    I’ll now just cross my fingers that this rises high on the SERP for the keywords “Holy Cow Cleaning Products” 🙂

    Thanks for playing Brent.

  10. Hi Leslie,

    Yes, all Holy Cow cleaning products are manufactured in the USA. There are shipping warehouses on the West Coast and in the Midwest for distribution to the US and to Canada.

  11. It’s a circular symbol that says Meets USDA food and safety standards. No where on the bottle does this product even claim to be a completely organic product, aren’t there better things to go ape shit about than attacking a product that is affordable, actually works and, while not completely organic at least takes the environment into consideration?

    1. Actually, no, there aren’t better things to do. That’s the purpose of this site – to encourage people to buy ACTUAL green products and not fake ones. Why buy something that is trying to fool you into thinking it is something that it’s not, when companies out there make real products that are actually green? Sorry, that’s a poor argument.

  12. I appreciate hearing both sides of the argument. Truthfully, I think the Holy Cow advertising is a bit shady…That’s my opinion. I wouldn’t encourage anyone to purchase it and being a Vermont resident and attempting to support local business, my loyalty is towards Seventh Generation. It also works and I feel confident using it around my child as I can read what all ingredients are and their company is accessible and forthcoming with inquiries.

    I do prefer to know both sides or at least the opinions of those involved in a debate. In most instances, the truth is found somewhere in between. On this one, the scales are tipped a little. I won’t be purchasing Holy Cow without a complete list of ingredients. Being cautious as an argument is a load of bull…Represent your products honestly and transparently…

  13. I saw this product in the store and could not find ingredients on the label. I try to not purchase products with unknown ingredients so I guess I will not be buying this.Bummer.

  14. I don’t think that if a company chooses to keep its product recipe a secret that it is intentionally a bad company trying to deceive the consumer into faulty organic claims. You’re not gonna eat the stuff, right? There are many copycats out there that would try to duplicate the product and make a profit off a anothers idea. Anyone hear of Wal-mart, Walgreens, Randalls, or any of the numerous companies that produce generic (cheaper) copycats of an original product?

  15. I found this article while searching for Holy Cow’s website. I bought a bottle of this and was using it while cleaning. After done I realized EVERYTHING had a film over it. So I went to call the company and it was disconnected. Their website is also not loading. Not sure if its just my computer or if they are out of business? I was really disappointed that I have to reclean everything I just cleaned. I’m new to buying organic so I didn’t realize the USDA labels. I have used the stuff before and really liked it. That was about 6 or 8 months ago though.

  16. I really liked this product it worked really well, but I had not noticed the fake label. Either way, they’re out of business anyhow.

  17. Yes, thanks a lot. You ran out of business the only effective product I’ve ever found. Now I can’t find it, and as for Jaime’s response, once I couldn’t get Holy Cow, I tried 7th Generation on the same task – doesn’t work.

  18. Huh? What effect do you THINK this kind of jumped-up baloney has on a small business in a very depressed economy? It was by far the most effective cleaner I ever found, and I never tried drinking it, so who cares about your stupid label issue. The business was in Rocklin, CA, near Sacramento, which has among the highest foreclosure and unemployment rates in the country. Congratulations.

  19. Dawn… shame on you.

    Freedom of speech and conscientious product choices don’t collapse business. Bad business decisions collapse business. These are things like misleading customers, over-leveraging credit, and taking on too much risk. I don’t know which set of factors collapsed Holy Cow.

    The Sacramento area (my home too) is an excellent example that rapid growth is unsustainable. Areas like Rocklin took the brunt of the hit because there was too much risky speculation and rapid housing construction.

    The true roots of the economic collapse can be found by looking at those who borrowed too much without knowing the real risk. This turned out to me most of us who got taken to the cleaners by those smart enough to see how the scheme worked.

    Blaming your fellow citizens for being careful shoppers is just shameful.

  20. Well, the owners had the opportunity to prove their products by going to the right place for certifying it.

    So Brent, if you want to defend this product as organic that many of us loved and are disappointed, why don’t you prove it the right way that it is really organic and get back into business?

    I don’t think you went out of business because you wanted to keep the cost low, I am pretty sure you went out of business because you can’t prove to everyone that the product is 100% organic or non-harmful (no harmful chemicals or harmful natural products either). Too bad!

    As a business owner, and if i were walmart or any other big company, I am going to be after you for all claims, you just did not want to cough up the money for proving what you have, too bad buddy. You certainly dont know how to do business.

  21. getaclue,

    I think I can help you with your quest.

    Big or small, companies typically fail due to their business choices. I suspect one of the bad choices that helped in this business failure was withholding a disclose of the ingredients to their buyers. This was my primary concern, but I still agree with David the labeling could have been misleading buyers.

    The ability to freely speak out and up about anything is the basis of freedom and America. We all have the right to the freedom of speech. In fact I’d argue that forums like this are ideal for grass roots efforts to bring the truth to light and for people to come together.

    I don’t think anyone was advocating not buying american products or from small business. Not sure where you got that. I always advocate shopping local and buying from small business.

    Do you have a clue now?

  22. SO if they are out of business, what do you all use to clean oil or grease? My husband has oily skin (despite clean diet) and it makes our sheets oily on his side. I was cleaning them with Holy Cow for years and it worked very well. Want to stick with something non-toxic. It’s the first and only product we’ve been able to use without any reactions on his skin. We loved it. Don’t want to use Greased Lightening or anything like that. Any suggestions?

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *