Green cleaning’s a passionate topic for many a MNN-reading neatnik, since harsh chemicals can cause health problems ranging from asthma to toilet seat dermatitis. Yet go into any mainstream supermarket, and you’ll see shopping aisles full of less-than-green cleaners that don’t even disclose their ingredients.

Now, environmentalists in New York are fighting in court to find out what’s behind those labels. Nonprofits including American Lung Association in New York, Sierra Club, and Women’s Voices for the Earth are pointing to a 1971 New York state law “to force such manufacturers and Procter & Gamble Co. and Colgate-Palmolive Co. to reveal just what makes up such household staples as Ajax, Ivory soap and Tide,” reports the Associated Press.

In response to the green-minded lawsuit, named-and-shamed companies have started voluntarily disclosing the ingredients in their products — and claiming that mandatory disclosures aren’t necessary. However, environmentalists point out that voluntary disclosures are insufficient, especially since “some components can be listed simply as ‘fragrance’ or ‘dye.’” And if you read my post earlier today, you know that “fragrance” in personal care products can include any of 3,163 ingredients — some of which are hormone disruptors and toxic chemicals!

A win for the environmental groups in New York could lead to nationwide regulations on cleaners. Earthjustice has more details on this lawsuit — including a copy of the lawsuit itself (PDF). In the meantime, stay clean safely by sticking to greener cleaning products that come with full ingredient disclosure -- or make some green cleaning products of your own on the cheap!

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