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Biodegradability of Cleaning Products

When you do laundry or wash the dishes, what happens to everything that goes down the drain? This is a great question to be asking on World Environmental Health Day because we want to make sure what we do doesn’t negatively impact the world around us. It’s also something that the cleaning products industry spends a lot of time studying to make sure that this part of the post-cleaning process is safe for us and the environment.

How do cleaning product companies know what will happen? They do a lot of research, including using tools like ACI’s iSTREEM. This modeling system can help confirm if the cleaning product they’ve formulated will likely biodegrade when it washes down the drain.

It doesn’t stop there. You know those little packets that go in dishwashers and washing machines that have a film around them that dissolves in the wash? That needs to biodegrade too. How does that work?

The thin layer of film used in packets contains a liquid (detergent) but also dissolves in a liquid (water). A group of scientists took a look to see what happens to the film after it dissolves. After reviewing available research and conducting additional experiments, they found that after 28 days over 60% of the film, on average, was biodegraded and, based on modeling, within 90 days it would reach about 100%. Read the FAQ on their findings here.

So the next time you use cleaning products, from powders to liquids to packets, you can be confident that it will biodegrade when it goes down the drain.

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