Detergents and cleaning products have contributed to great improvements in human health and hygiene over the last several centuries. As with all widely used products that provide wide-scale benefits to consumers, we need to be attentive to the risks. Some potential concerns include:

  • How do we assess the risks to human health from using detergents?
  • How are consumers or workers exposed to laundry products? What levels are safe?
  • Do detergents lead to skin irritation, allergies or sensitization?
  • Do products containing enzymes raise any special concerns?
  • Are fabric softeners, like Lenor, safe for people with sensitive skin (including infants)?

These are questions that P&G scientists address every day in their commitment to ensuring consumer product safety. Following a tiered approach, researchers assess detergent ingredients from the available data and lab tests before being tested on human volunteers (P&G has committed to not testing on animals unless legally required). The sections below provide information on the methodologies, types of tests and results of decades of research that ensure the safety of P&G products to human health.

  • Human Health Risk Assessments

    Human Health Risk Assessments (HHRA) are intended to select ingredients during product development that are safe for workers and consumers. It is a tiered process that progresses from the use of short-term tests (acute oral and dermal toxicity, skin and eye irritation, mutagenicity and sensitization potential) to longer-term (chronic) tests. If an ingredient at any point indicates an unacceptable risk, it will be removed from the product formulation. HHRAs are an important tool in guaranteeing consumer product safety.
    Find out more on P&G’s human health risk assessment process .

  • Quantitative exposure assessment

    To determine the risk, an exposure assessment needs to be established. This involves determining how consumers or workers can be exposed and the level or volume of the exposure. P&G scientists draw up exposure scenarios which establish the numerical values that influence the exposure assessment.
    Find out more about P&G’s research on quantitative exposure assessments .

  • Detergents and skin irritation, allergies and sensitization

    Laundry products are sometimes perceived as a source of skin irritation, allergies and sensitization. To follow up available exposure data and lab research, P&G scientists have tested on human volunteers for a wide range of skin compatibility issues under real use and exaggerated conditions. The results, verified by independent panels of dermatologists, show that P&G’s laundry detergent products (including those containing enzymes) do not pose concerns about skin irritation, allergies or sensitization.
    Find out more on the different tests addressing consumer product safety concerns on skin irritation,allergies and sensitization .

  • Enzymes in laundry detergent

    Enzymes have been used in detergents since the 1960s to efficiently remove certain stains. They have allowed detergents to make great strides in sustainable washing, working better at removing stains, in smaller volumes (compaction) and at lower wash temperatures. But are enzymes safe for human health? Could they cause allergies or raise skin sensitization concerns?
    Learn more on how P&G researchers are ensuring that enzymes are safe for human health.

  • Skin Compatibility of Lenor Fabric Softener

    A widely-held misperception is that fabric softeners can cause skin problems (irritation, rashes, sensitization, allergies…). P&G scientists have tested Lenor fabric softener on human volunteers to check its skin compatibility. Even under highly exaggerated conditions, not only was Lenor compatible with all types of skin sensitivities, it was even found to be beneficial for certain skin types (due to reduced friction on skin from softened fabrics).
    Find out more about the various skin testing procedures and results for Lenor fabric softener.

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Illustrations from P&G's Science-in-the-Box website can be used freely for educational, non-commercial purposes provided that the source will be published as follows: "Obtained from (P&G website)"


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