Natural Products Association Sets Standard for Natural in Home Care Products

WASHINGTON (February 11, 2010) -- As demand for natural products continues to rise, the Natural Products Association (NPA) is extending its natural seal and standard to include home care products, such as household cleaners, laundry detergents, concentrated and ready-to-use hard surface cleaners.

Until now, there was no standard definition of the term “natural” used by the home care industry. Now, an easily identifiable seal will help consumers discern which products are natural. Shoppers can expect the seal to begin appearing on certified home care products in the coming months.

A number of products that are mainly synthetic are being positioned as natural. This leads to significant consumer confusion about the category and products people are choosing," said Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at the NPA. "To provide the consumer peace of mind in the marketplace, the new natural standard for home care will inject integrity into natural for the person who matters most, the consumer" he said.

The standard comes amidst growing consumer confusion about what makes a product natural. A recent national survey* found that natural ingredients are important to consumers and that there should be standards:

- 78% of those surveyed said there should be regulations/standards for natural home care products

- 72% believe it’s important that ingredients in home care products are natural

- 73% are more likely to purchase a home care product if they knew it was certified as natural

The Natural Certification Program and Seal of Approval:
Under the new program, products must follow strict guidelines set out by the NPA to merit bearing the seal. The criteria include, but are not limited to:

  • Product must be made up of at least 95 percent truly natural ingredients or ingredients that are derived from natural sources, excluding water
  • No ingredients with any suspected human health risks
  • No processes that significantly or adversely alter the natural ingredients
  • Ingredients that come from a purposeful, natural source (flora, fauna, mineral)
  • Processes that are minimal and don't use synthetic/harsh chemicals
  • Non-natural ingredients only when viable natural alternative ingredients are unavailable and only when there are absolutely no suspected potential human health risks
  • Transparency and full disclosure of ingredients

The full set of criteria can be found on the Natural Products Association website at A sheet of FAQs about the program follows this release.

The formation of the home care standard is the second of its kind from the NPA. In May 2008, the NPA established a standard and seal for natural personal care products, such as lotions, balms and shampoos. More than 340 products have currently been approved and certified.

The NPA standard is science-based and was developed by a team of experts from the association as well as natural products manufacturers and retailers. The advisory panel drew from a variety of sources, including relevant international standards, third-party organizations, existing research, and years of experience in the field. Advisors to the association are the leading natural home care suppliers, manufacturers and retailers, including Green Works (r) natural cleaners, Seventh Generation (r), J.R. Watkins (r), Cognis (r), Trilogy Fragrances (r), Aubrey Organics (r), Eco-Me (r), PCC Natural Markets (r) and Sun & Earth (r).

Other Information

Natural Products Association Standard and Certification Program for Home Care Products -- FAQs

Natural Products Association Standard and Certification Program for Home Care Products -- High Resolution Seal

* Based on a national online survey of 1,002 consumers with partner Braun Research on Sept. 17, 2009, about natural home-care products. The findings have a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.


The Natural Products Association (NPA), founded in 1936, is the largest and oldest non-profit organization dedicated to the natural products industry. The Natural Products Association represents more than 10,000 retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors of natural products, including foods, dietary supplements, and health/beauty aids. As the leading voice of the natural products industry, the Natural Products Association's mission is to advocate for the rights of consumers to have access to products that will maintain and improve their health, and for the rights of retailers and suppliers to sell these products.

Natural Products Association Natural Standard for Home Care Products - FAQs


Have NPA-certified Natural Home Care Products been tested on animals?

No. NPA-certified Natural Home Care Products are NOT permitted to be tested on animals.

What ingredients are required to be revealed?

Per CSPA Voluntary Ingredient Communications Program, all NPA-certified Natural Home Care Products support transparency and full disclosure of ingredients. The NPA certified home care products require ingredient labeling to follow personal care conventions (INCI) for labeling.

Does the NPA natural certification contain requirements for recyclable packaging?

The current standard for NPA-certified Natural Home Care Products encourages, but does not require, member companies to maximize their use of recyclable and PCR materials in packaging.

What processes are ingredients allowed to undergo?

NPA-certified Natural Home Care Products are minimally processed.

  • An illustrative list of allowable processes follows:
    • Amination of Alcohols and Acids
    • Distillation of Essential Oils
    • Esterification or Transesterification
    • Etherification of Glycerin
    • Extraction
    • Fat-Splitting of Oils
    • Fermentation
    • Glucosidation of Fatty Alcohol
    • Hydrogenation of Oils
    • Hydrogenolysis of Methyl Esters
    • Hydrolysis of Complex Proteins
    • Oxidation with Hydrogen Peroxide
    • Protein Fragment Acylation
    • Saponification of Oils
    • Sulfation of Fatty Alcohol
    • Sulfonation of Non-Alcohols

Are any synthetic ingredients allowed in NPA-certified Natural Home Care Products?

Synthetic materials are allowed only when:

  • no equivalent, commercially available/viable performance/value natural material exists
  • they present no human health or environmental risk in the product
  • the synthetic material does not appear on the list of Prohibited Ingredients
  • their total weight percentage does not exceed 5% of a formula, not including water
  • abide by allowed processes for the NPA natural standard

Are synthetic colors/fragrances allowed in NPA-certified Natural Home Care Products?

Temporarily. Completely natural fragrances and colorants will be required within two years from launch of the standard. Synthetic fragrance and colors without suspected human health or environmental risk will be allowed for a maximum of two years after the launch of the standard.

Are any preservatives allowed in NPA-certified Natural Home Care Products?

The safety of consumers is of utmost importance to the NPA and its member consortium. Delivering natural products, free from microbial contamination, is paramount to ensuring consumer safety. At present, every effort is made to formulate products that do not require the use of preservatives. For some products, however, that is not possible; in these cases, a choice has been made to use the most environmentally friendly and safest preservatives in the smallest concentration possible to be effective.

Are NPA-certified Natural Home Care Products hypo-allergenic?

No. There is no defined methodology to test for allergic reactions in home care products, nor does the FDA regulate use of the term "hypoallergenic." Consequently, the NPA does not position NPA-certified Natural Home Care Products as hypoallergenic. These products contain safe and effective ingredients and do not contain petroleum-synthesized fillers that may irritate the skin. A list of ingredients for each NPA-certified Natural Home Care Product is available on individual product labels.


Which member companies comprise the NPA steering committee that developed the Natural Standard for Home Care Products?

Green Works ® natural cleaners, Seventh Generation ®, J.R. Watkins®, Cognis®, Trilogy Fragrances®, Aubrey Organics®, Eco-Me®, PCC Natural Markets® and Sun & Earth ®.

The US government certifies products as ‘organic’ with its USDA Organic standard. Doesn’t the US government have a similar accreditation for ‘natural?’

No. The US government does not have a standard certification for “natural” products. Because consumers want to know what products are truly natural, the NPA has developed the Natural Standard for Home Care Product (similar to the Natural Standard for Personal Care Products that it launched in 2008) in order to help consumers identify which home care products are truly natural.

What is the process to have my products certified as natural through the Natural Certification Program for Home Care Products?

Review the Natural Standard Website and related program materials including the information about the certification steps. This includes reviewing the NPA Natural Standard and Allowed List of Processes and Ingredients to determine if your products fit the criteria established in the Natural Standard.

The next step would be to assemble the required company and product documentation (see the application packet) and program templates and submit your materials per the instructions in the application packet.

Details available at

How long does the certification process take?

Depending on the completeness of the materials submitted, generally the certification process will take between two to four weeks—once the association has received ALL necessary company, product line, product and ingredient information necessary for the third-party review audit. Providing additional details, such as International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) nomenclature and/or Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) numbers for your ingredients, will help facilitate the audit review and may shorten the time necessary to complete the certification.

The program says that to qualify for natural certification, a company’s home care brand must offer at least 60 percent natural products. Can you please explain this requirement?

The 60 percent requirement pertains to your natural home care brand. Sixty percent of your company’s entire natural home care brand must meet the criteria for natural certification, even if you are seeking natural certification for less than 60 percent of this brand. We require that firms submit information regarding their eligible products with their application. Usually, this takes the form of product labels and/or spreadsheets with ingredient declarations for the products that are not applying for certification.

All my home care products are natural. Can I get my company certified or do I still need to have each product certified?

The association’s certification for home care products is a product certification program, not a company certification program. Therefore, the program certifies products only and you must submit appropriate documentation for each home care product you want to be certified as natural.

What information do I have to submit for each product that I want to be certified?

The program application packet specifies what company, product and ingredient information must be submitted for certification. Company-specific information, such as the executive summary of the company's organizational structure and the site quality summary only needs to be submitted once. Product-specific information, however, such as product labels, quantitative formulas, master batch and manufacturing records, ingredient specifications and COAs, must be submitted with each product. Sample spec/tech sheets and matrices can be viewed here.

If I use the same formula for several products, that is, spray cleaner that are different colors or scents, do I still have to pay a certification fee for each certified product?


What if I use the same SKU for more than one product? Do I pay the certification fee for each certified product?


If I have the same product in several different sizes, do I still have to pay a certification fee for each SKU of that product?

No, however you do need to submit documents on the different sizes to ensure that they are indeed the same formulation.

My operation is very small and the fees are too high, but my products would qualify for certification. Do you have a sliding or cheaper rate for small companies?

There is no quantity discount for the certification of multiple products through the program. The program fees cover both the cost of the third-party review audit and licensing for the use of the logo for each product certified for two years. Keep in mind the value the natural certification would bring your company. You would have the opportunity to put the Natural Seal on your certified products as well as having your certified products listed on the Natural Products Association Web site. There has been tremendous consumer outreach for this program, resulting in high consumer and retailer recognition of the program seal and confidence that a product bearing the association’s Natural Seal is in fact natural. There is, however, a sliding scale regarding association membership.

How do I know what raw materials and processes I can use?

Become familiar with the Natural Standard and Allowed List of Processes and Ingredients to determine what ingredients and processes are allowed or prohibited.

What if I have a question about a specific ingredient? What if my product has a natural ingredient in it that isn’t on the “Illustrative Positive” list?

If you have a question about a specific ingredient that is not on the Illustrative “Allowed” list or in the Natural Standard under the “Prohibited” section, please contact the Natural Products Association at [email protected]

Do you have a separate list of “Allowed Synthetics?”

Not at present, but it is currently in development.

I am not a U.S.-based business. Can I get my products certified?

Yes. If your company’s products meet the criteria for natural certification we will certify your products for the NPA Natural Seal in the United States.

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