Think Simple Green Is A Good Eco-Friendly Cleaner? Think Again…

Emily Wilson

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According to a new report by Women’s Voices for the Earth, Simple Green contains the chemical ethylene glycol butyl ether or EGBE, which is on California’s list of toxic ingredients. Sweet! So glad that Simple Green advertises itself as a non-toxic cleaning product! According to the report, from SF Gate:

…produces reproductive problems, such as testicular damage, reduced fertility, death of embryos and birth defects. People exposed to high levels of EGBE for several hours have reported nose and eye irritation, headaches, vomiting and a metallic taste in their mouths, studies show.

Well that would sure make me feel better about using their environmentally friendly non-toxic cleaner. Luckily I don’t use (nor ever have) their products and I hope they change the formula soon because I am sure a lot of people do use the stuff. A full list of the products with this toxic ingredient can be found at SF Gate, and you might be surprised at the list. Take a look when you get a chance and make sure you are not using any of them in your home.

26 thoughts on “Think Simple Green Is A Good Eco-Friendly Cleaner? Think Again…”

  1. That is disturbing. I actually still have some simple green I use(I won’t anymore) my parents used it growing up for just about everyting and use it religiously washing my car, degreasing items and such that might get washed into storm drains and such thinking I was doing something relatively “good” or at least better.

    I have since switched to the eco-friendly products of Shaklee corporation. The company is quite amazing and has been doing “green” things before green was cool(50 years now). I love the company so much I became a distributor just to get the word out and get more people to convert. Find out more info at:

  2. That’s good to hear. I don’t like Simple Green also because they actually run animal tests. At least they don’t hide the fact. The datasheet on their website reveals that they test their products on rabbits. With so many other greener products out there (or make your own), I don’t see any reason to use Simple Green.

  3. Cindy,

    That is good to know as well. I had no idea they ran animal tests for Simple Green. I am not even going to finish the bottle I have, thanks for sharing.

  4. Did they say anything about their animal testing though? What did they say about the above mentioned chemical? Clorox bleach has been around for 50+ years but that doesnt make it good for you.

    I have used simple green and watched my parents growing up and always thought it was a better alternative and maybe it was in its day but with so many other alternatives out there its hard to continue using it.

    Also, even if it was as safe to drink as water, if they still did animal testing then I would not support the company in any way.


  5. I urge anyone to contact Simple Green directly. I called them to confront them about the ingredients in their formula and not only did they offer a very valid explaination, they offered to send me the data to back those claims up. After looking further into it I found out that they have been in business for over 30 years and that the product is used all over the world safely. Who do you trust? I know that sodium by itself will burn you and chloride is toxic if you inhale it, but the two together make table salt. So much for a single chemical being “bad”.

  6. Cory – So the studies are false and everything Simple Green uses in their products are non-toxic? When very basic safe ingredients can be used to clean with, why have chemicals at all? For them to advertise “non-toxic” when in fact there are toxic ingredients in their products, you have to wonder. You also have to wonder how they made it on a thoroughly researched list of products that contain that chemical. For my money, I will choose to use 100% non-toxic cleaners as they are available everywhere for reasonable prices.

  7. You reading directly from Simple Green’s site, so its really hard to tell. Here is a clip from a study done at UMASS that mentions simple green, seems conflicting to me:

    A key ingredient of Simple Green is butyl cellosolve, a substance considered toxic by the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. In lab tests, the liquid has destroyed red blood cells and caused minor birth defects in animals. When absorbed through the skin or inhaled, it has caused irritation around the eyes and noses of humans and headaches.

    Concentrations of the solvent in household cleaners are not thought to pose an immediate danger to people. But LeBlanc believes products should not be labeled as “green” if they contain ingredients that are considered to be toxic by the federal government.

    Manufacturers of Simple Green, the California-based Sunshine Makers, stand by their claims, which they say are backed by more than $3 million in testing. On the Simple Green Web site, the Material Safety and Data Sheet reports that analysis by federal environmental standards “revealed no toxic organic or inorganic constituents.”

    “It gets so confusing for customers,” LeBlanc says. “We’re faced with an industry that does a poor job of training and a good job of marketing. Cleaners in stores are not as safe as cleaners that I have in my lab, and that is sad.”

  8. Snake venom is natural, does that make it okay & non toxic. You guys should look further into what you’re talking about. They don’t test on animals and haven’t since the 1980’s which is required by OSHA for workplace safety. Simple Green has actually been used in oil spills & clean ups to save the lives of animals. You should really look into it yourselves.

    • Is it “obvious” that Cory works for Simple Green? What, now we demonize people for trying to add balance to a discussion? I think Cory is suggesting that we take responsibility for being informed, rather than jumping on a knee-jerk bandwagon.

  9. I have a vested interest in green companies and the truth of what they do as I hate where the world stands today with all the pollution and hazardous situations. It’s my college education, Masters in biology, bachelors in chemistry that makes me respond, and it’s everday consumers without proper education in biology and chemistry that concerns me the most.

    I contacted Simple Green as well after that article and they still claim that while they once did animal testing they don’t anymore. But to help point something else out – the field of toxicity testing has changed. Governments around the world have found non-animal testing methods ..even based on calculating toxicity of products based on previously established toxicity of the ingredients. So just because one has the toxicity data on their Safety Sheets doesn’t necessarily just mean they still test on animals. Try asking the company yourself.

    Also, everything in dangerous in high enough quantities. Everyone praises vinegar, but vinegar (additional flavor enhancing impurities aside) is just 5% acetic acid in water. have you looked at the hazards of pure acetic acid? Why is a dilute form of one ok, but the not the other for consumers?

    I was also outraged by the fact that Simple Green had EGBE in it, but I choose to contact the company and they linked me to a variety of California EPA documents as well as EPA documents – all available on their respective websites, which better explain the hazards of EGBE. Let me just say, it’s not as cut and dry as these articles make it.

    The media always hypes up the latest “problem” they encounter. Everyone knows this. Try educating yourself a little instead of just jumping on the band wagon.

    After learning more about the true test results of that chemical, I know can make an educated decision whether I should use Simple Green or not. I for one don’t think they are a bad company, but there are greener options out there.

  10. Hmmm…I need to educate myself. So I am to believe the studies they provide but not any others? And no matter who discusses EGBE, every study says it is toxic…some just say less so than others. And yes, you can make your own choice of course…I choose to not use it, as do other people here.

    “It”™s my college education, Masters in biology, bachelors in chemistry that makes me respond, and it”™s everday consumers without proper education in biology and chemistry that concerns me the most.” – Sorry but I don’t think we “everyday consumers” need any education in biology to want to avoid any substance that is toxic or potentially toxic…there are plenty of alternatives out there that are not.

  11. They say they use it on nonmammals like fish only to test because they use it to clean marine life not too bad in my book. I would prefer testing on rapists and pedifiles but I have to admit that even as a vegan I have had an ahi or two. I think my moral compass is okay with simple green because it was given to me I’ll finish it but then I’m back to vinegar,baking soda, and lemon.

  12. I am about to throw up – on Simple Green’s doorstep. I feel offended and stupid to think that Simple Green was eco friendly. It’s worse because they deliberately try to portray their product as such. Moreover, as a vegetarian, I am disgusted that they use animal testing. I feel ashamed and stupid. I wrote them a polite letter of concern. I will probably throw out the big bottle I just bought and will start making my own cleaner – out of natural and cheaper ingredients. This world can be a sad place. It is full of people and companies – and politicians – that lie soley for the purpose of getting rich – with stinky, torn, smelly – and diseased 100 dollar bills.

  13. Health Information10,12,13
    Although some glycol ethers, specifically ethylene glycol methyl ether (EGME) and ethylene
    glycol ethyl ether (EGEE), cause adverse reproductive effects and birth defects in laboratory
    animals, EGBE does not show the same pattern of toxicity as these other glycol ethers. Human
    experience and animal studies have shown that EGBE is unlikely to cause adverse health effects
    when products are used as directed. Skin contact with EGBE before it is diluted in commercial
    formulations should be avoided. Airborne concentrations of EGBE should be maintained below
    permissible exposure limits.14

    When used improperly, EGBE can cause eye, respiratory tract and skin irritation. It may cause
    moderate corneal injury and the eye may be slow to heal. Repeated skin exposure may cause
    irritation and even a burn. EGBE should not be ingested. Intentional ingestion of EGBEcontaining
    products can be toxic to humans.15
    Inhalation may cause headaches, hemolysis (red blood cell breakage) and secondary effects to
    the kidney and liver. Human red blood cells have been shown to be significantly less sensitive to
    hemolysis than those of rodents and rabbits.
    EGBE inhalation exposure in laboratory animals has been found to reduce body weight gain and
    food consumption in addition to hemolysis. After exposure was discontinued, these effects in
    animals disappeared. EGBE does not cause adverse reproductive or birth effects in animals,
    unless exposures are so high that they cause significant material toxicity.
    When EGBE is ingested and metabolized in animals or humans, it is broken down into
    butoxyacetic acid (BAA), which can cause hemolysis. Humans are less sensitive to the hemolytic
    effects of BAA seen in rats. Humans could not achieve blood concentrations high enough to
    cause hemolysis when EGBE is used as directed.
    In the most recent inhalation studies, rats and mice were exposed to EGBE in air for their
    lifetimes. These studies found “some” evidence of cancer in mice and “equivocal” (uncertain)
    evidence in rats. The increase in tumors was thought to result from the hemolytic effects and
    irritation that would not occur in humans when EGBE is used as directed. In June 2004, the
    International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) announced that its experts’ review found
    inadequate human evidence of carcinogenicity and limited animal evidence of carcinogenicity for
    EGBE. EGBE is now classified as a Group 3 substance, which is not classifiable as to its
    carcinogenicity to humans.16

    Also, after extensive review of EGBE toxicity and exposure data, the Environmental Protection
    Agency (EPA) removed it from its list of Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) in November 2004.
    The EPA concluded that the Reference Concentration (RfC) expected for EGBE presents no
    appreciable risk with lifetime exposure, even for susceptible individuals.

  14. “As of 2013 2-butoxyethanol has been removed from Simple Green all-purpose cleaner, and has an NFPA/HMIS rating of 0/minimal for Health, Fire, Reactivity, and Special.[5] The company stands by its safety, stating that it is backed by over $3 million in safety testing.[2]”

  15. This article is pseudoscience crap.

    1) Laws are not a way to measure the safety of anything. You should never appeal to a substance being outlawed as a justification for not using it. Governments, are run by people who are not scientists or even scientifically inclined. California, has so many substances listed as harmful or carcinogenic while there is little or no data to substantiate this belief. We have literally outlawed cannabis for the last 6 generations because of the belief that it was harmful, but the data and evidence show it was never harmful.

    2) Simple Green does not even contain ECEB the compound you are claiming is toxic. It contains the MCI/MI compounds for antimicrobial powers, which would be toxic if you swallowed huge doses of it or if it comes into contact with your eyes for long.

    3) We should stop getting medical or scientific information from blog writers and instead go directly to the sources themselves. You can look up the ingredients of simple green, and you can research the specific chemicals themselves. This is how I know this blog author just straight up lied in their article. Ask a chemist or a pharmacist about these substances instead of someone who thinks California law’s are a good way to judge actual toxicity (something we can measure, and demonstrate through experiment or data).

    – Jacob Chacko (an engineer)

  16. I’ve been practically bathing in Simple Green at full concentration for 5 years. We use it to clean wind turbines. I’ve worked with people who have been all-but drinking it for 20 years (and even some who have mistaken it for gatorade). I have had it in every membrane of my body that isn’t covered by underpants. Cuts, mouth, nose, ears, eyes… you name it. There are some technicians who snark about “the green lung”, but they’re just allergic to cleaning in general. We order it in 55 gallon drums. Yes- it dries out my cuticles and nails, but it beats the alternatives: brake and carbon brush dust, high density grease, gearbox oil, coolant, hydraulic oil.
    The SDS on this cleaner is 1 page long, so about 20-30 pages shorter than the dozens of other chemicals you’ve been using.
    You might be convinced that Simple Green causes irritation, but in my world, it’s the LACK of this cleaning agent that actually causes hazards.
    Dawn cleans baby ducks, but it’s got petroleum solvents. I’m NOT suggesting anyone should bathe a baby duck in Simple Green.
    But, if you think the whole world will somehow manage to clean and degrease machines with apple cider vinegar, maybe you are meant to be an online journalist.
    By the way, apple cider vinegar burns- so don’t bathe the baby ducks in that, either.

  17. Which alternatives? Are you a schill for a competitor? And then there is DuPont whose motto used to be “Better things for better living through chemistry” and dropped the last two words because ignorant people were afraid of chemistry, the raw materials we have learned about and learned how to manipulate through scientific method; or were given to us by God to discover, subdue and utilize to our advantage or demise depending on your point of view or moral standing.

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