Is Mrs. Meyers safe? Or toxic? You’ve probably figured out that one of my pet peeves is companies and products that claim to be ‘natural’, but in reality are not. Mrs. Meyers Clean Day unfortunately falls into that category. While claiming to be natural, healthy and ‘aromatherapeutic’, Mrs Meyers Clean Day products actually contain a number of unsafe and dangerous ingredients including endocrine-disruptors and cancer-causing chemicals. There are so many better and safer options out there. Please don’t buy into the marketing scam that promotes Mrs Meyers Clean Day as this wonderful, safe, organically scented cleaning line. Because it’s a bunch of bull.
The History of Mrs Meyers Clean Day
The company was NOT founded by a sweet little old lady named Mrs. Meyers. It was founded by a woman named Monica Nassif, a corporate marketing consultant and executive founder of the Caldrea Company. Ms. Nassif started Mrs Meyers as a lower-cost spinoff of Caldrea, and decided to name the company after her mother, Mrs. Thelma Meyers—her back story was too good to pass up. Thelma was married to Vern, and they raised 9 children in a tidy little farmhouse in Iowa. Thelma looks like the perfect grandmother, and her association with the brand, however tangential, meant that the brand would seem more ‘home spun’ to consumers. As a former corporate marketing executive, Ms. Nassif knew the importance of a “story line” to hook consumers, even if it had little to do with the product itself. And she knew how to use that story to sell products, even marking them up 30% more than competing brands.
The products were branded in a typographically quirky, retro and “authentic” way by Werner Designs. The branding is actually reminiscent of that old hippie stand-by Dr. Bronners–and trust me, that’s not a coincidence. If you’re curious about how Werner helped build Mrs Meyers into the “beloved” brand it is today, just take a look at their Mrs Meyers case study. The packaging of Mrs Meyers is a huge factor in its success:
“We know anecdotally that the packaging is so loved that our consumers tend to leave the bottles out on the counter. Stylists in all media prop it into magazines, catalogs and TV, giving us free publicity.” Ariel Carter, Senior Designer.
The packaging design says “quirky”! “homespun”! “hipster”! and eco-friendly all at once. In fact, the packaging and promotion of Mrs Meyers Clean Day is considered among the great advertising campaigns of recent years. Werner Designs and Hanson Dodge Advertising was able to convince consumers, through packaging, a “faux” back story about a sweet old lady and ‘relatable’ advertising that a run-of-the-mill, synthetically-fragranced product line owned by SC Johnson was PRACTICALLY HOME-MADE in its authenticity. Not.
Wait–SC Johnson Owns Mrs Meyers?
Yep. Mrs Meyers was acquired by SC Johnson in 2009. For a while, Mrs Meyers continued to be produced in their Minneapolis factory, but in 2014, SC Johnson announced that production would be moved to their main production facility in Racine, Wisconsin.
SC Johnson is the manufacturer of the toxic medley of Raid, Glade Plug-Ins, Scrubbing Bubbles, Off! bug repellent and Drano. The company continues to test their products on animals. So you might thing “Well, I’m not buying THOSE products, I’m buying Mrs Meyers, which is safe, right?” Not so fast.
The Dangerous Chemicals in Mrs Meyers Clean Day Products
The reality? According to the company website, Mrs Meyers Clean Day contains such lovely ingredients as benzisothiazolinone, PEG-2 Cocomonium Chloride, methylisothiazoline (linked to nerve damage by the NIH), phenoxyethanol, Sodium Caprylyl Sulfonate and sodium methyl-2 lauryl sulfate (can create cancer-causing nitrosamines and cause acute aquatic toxicity) and the ever-so-discreetly-named “fragrance”.
As you may know, when you see a product with the ingredient “fragrance” in it, you HAVE ask yourself: where did that smell come from? Upon first glance, it seems clear that Mrs Meyers is trying to send the message that their fragrance is all-natural. After all, why else label their products with such natural and clean-sounding scents as Basil, Lavender, Honeysuckle, Lemon Verbena, and Geranium? Unfortunately, their scents are far from all-natural in origin.
When asked what was in their fragrance, the company responded: “Our fragrance compositions use a combination of natural essential oils and safe synthetic ingredients. This allows for the most pleasing, quality, and intriguing scents – inspired by the garden – that you’ll want to use again and again. This approach provides consistent performance, quality, and safety in every bottle. All fragrances are phthalate-free.”
Okay, so no phthalates. That’s good. I already discussed the dangers of phthalates in a recent blog post. But what about that phrase “safe synthetic ingredients”? What could THOSE be? Unfortunately, the company won’t say. I wonder if it’s because one of the biggest selling points of their products is their NATURAL scent–and if they were to reveal that they use synthetic fragrance, we’d all know the truth behind their Basil and Verbena scented hand soaps. Not so natural after all.
My guess is that their scents come from glycol ethers, as with many SC Johnson products. (This ingredient, by the way, isn’t eco-friendly either, for the record.) Whether the ingredients are truly “safe”, as the company claims? I guess you’ll just have to trust the company to do your research for you, since “fragrance” is actually a protected trademark, and companies are under no obligation to tell you the exact components. We know companies never lie to us, right?
Oh, and for the record? I loathe lack of transparency from the companies I buy from. But you probably already knew that.
What Products do I Trust?
(and yes, some of these are affiliate links- i make a few cents if you click on my link and buy the products-thanks!)
- All-Around-Awesome-Clean-Everything-in-Your-House-Cleaner: Young Living’s Thieves Household Cleaner ($22 wholesale, $28.95 retail). Every single ingredient in this fantastic smelling concentrate scores a 1 on the Environmental Working Group’s list of dangerous ingredients (1 is great, 10 is the worst). You can purchase this cleaner wholesale by becoming a member or retail without becoming a member. I purchased some glass refillable spray bottles on Amazon and use this cleaner for my kitchen, my bathroom, my tile floor and everything in between. One bottle lasts about 4 months, even when I use it to clean my whole house.
- Kitchen Cleaner: Fit Organics’ cleaner.
- Hand Soap: I bought a set of foaming hand pumps (one for each bathroom!) and some castile soap on Amazon. I then added some essential oils such as Citrus Fresh, Lavender or Lemon and voila–inexpensive, non-toxic, awesome and refillable. Not interested in DIY? I like Oregon Soap Company’s Organic Castile Foaming Hand Soap.
- I hope this post helped you learn something new, and I look forward to your comments!