Canadian Facts about Soaps and Detergents

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Soaps and detergents keep your family healthy and safe

Soaps and Detergents encompass laundry detergents, dishwashing liquids and personal cleansers. Medical science has long confirmed the important relationship between cleanliness and health. The regular use of soaps and detergents is fundamental to the health of our society and the well-being of its people. These products help prevent contagious diseases, improve the endurance of the things we use them on, and make our environments more pleasant.

The following diseases and infections occur less often when soaps and detergents are used regularly and according to label directions:

Soaps and Detergents

How soaps and detergents are regulated in Canada

Ingredients that make up soaps and detergents are regulated under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) by Environment Canada and Health Canada. CEPA is “An Act respecting pollution prevention and the protection of the environment and human health in order to contribute to sustainable development.” The brochure “Assessing Chemicals in Canada for Risk: Protecting the Health of Canadians and their Environment” describes how processes under CEPA scientifically consider, in a comprehensive way, chemicals that are used in Canada and how they are managed to protect the health of Canadians and their environment. On December 8, 2006, the government announced a comprehensive plan for chemicals. For more information on this process, go to this excellent website: Chemical Substances.

Under CEPA, the New Substances Notification Regulations ensure that all new ingredients (substances) are assessed for their potential to harm human health or the environment. These regulations are also applied to new substances used in products regulated under the Food and Drugs Act.

The new Act – the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act and the Consumer Chemicals and Containers Regulations, 2001 regulate the way these products are packaged and labelled.

Antimicrobial hand soaps that claim to kill harmful bacteria or germs are regulated as (antiseptic) drugs by Health Canada’s Therapeutic Products Directorate (TPD) because they are treated as disinfectants. Before these products can be sold to consumers, the manufacturer must present substantive scientific evidence of the product’s safety, efficacy and quality, as required by the Food and Drugs Act and Food and Drug Regulations. Antimicrobial hand soaps must also be assigned a Drug Identification Number (DIN), which is displayed on the product’s label. For additional information, visit Health Canada’s Consumer Product Safety webpage.

For more information on antimicrobial hand soaps, see our Disinfectants and Sanitizers page.

The Soap and Detergent Association of Canada (SDAC) represents the interests of member companies who produce and/or distribute laundry detergent and laundry aids, automatic and hand dishwashing detergents, fabric conditioners, specialty cleaners and disinfectants, and bar and liquid soaps for personal cleansing.