Standards: The Citra-Solv Problem (But the Good News is…)

From baby products to household cleaners to cosmetics and personal care products, most reading this will have a good sense that they are aware of harmful ingredients in the stream of consumer products and the importance of label-reading.

But we can all fall prey to green-washing, marketing and what we may feel is convenience!

A recent study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), titled the Hall of Shame, reveals the unfathomable number of hidden and proprietary ingredients in household cleaners; and, in some cases, ingredients which can interact with environmental pollutants, creating harmful results.

This was the report for Citra-Solv*, a decades-old mainstay on the shelves of most health food stores, including HFFC. I have used it for years, carefully diluted and conservatively, to remove the awful smells from compost buckets, greasy stains from floors, and so on. The label on the product reveals three ingredients. But, according to EWG, the first ingredient, limonene, can interact with ozone pollutants and formaldehyde (a known carcinogen) creating particles which can cause severe lung damage when the product is sprayed.

More mainstream products, Simple Green, along with a store brand oven cleaner, are marketed, respectively, as “non-toxic” and “fume-free”, actually contain ingredients which can cause red blood cell damage, and an “unidentified substance known to the state of California to cause cancer.” This is just a sampling of the information sourced from this report. For a more thorough read and helpful solutions to everyday home applications, go to:, where you can also find ratings and reports on other categories of products. Some results may take you by surprise!

The EWG is just one among a myriad of consumer organizations working to take down the smoke screen of our corporate-driven marketing system. As someone with decades of history in this industry, I have relied on these sources to help with personal and professional choices.

My thanks to my co-worker, Daisha, for bringing this specific report to my attention, and for the continued information and feedback we get from our membership and customers!

*As of this writing, CitraSolv will no longer be available at the Co-op.
-Ruth Molloy