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Clorox: Making a Stink about Scents

cloroxLaundry bleach has a very distinctive strong smell that some people like and other people hate. No wonder that major bleach manufacturers like Clorox have come out with scented versions of their liquid bleach.

They now make “Citrus Blend” (far right), “Fresh Meadow,” and “Mountain Fresh” scents in addition to regular.

There is one key thing, however, they don’t tell you on the label about the scented versions. They contain less than half the active ingredient of regular bleach.


“The scented bleaches contain a sodium hypochlorite concentration of 2.75%. Clorox Bleach – Regular Scent has a sodium hypochlorite concentration of 6%.”  –The Clorox Company

The label for the scented versions conveniently omits the ingredients statement that appears on the regular version: 

Clorox ingredients

When asked in an email why there was a lower percentage of bleach in the scented versions and why it was not listed on the label, the company did not respond. [But see below for lengthy explanation received after this story was posted.]

The label on the scented version does indicate that it should not be used for disinfecting purposes, however.

So, if your whites smell better but look a little more dingy these days, now you may know why.

UPDATE:  Harold Baker, also known as “Dr. Laundry” at the Clorox Company sent Mouse Print* a response to the scent issues raised above on February 22, 2007:

I wanted to briefly comment on some of the details you point out in this post, and hopefully shed some light on the “why” behind some of the differences in our products, and dispel any misconceptions.

What is the bleach level in scented bleach products?  As you point out in your Mouse Print quote, from a Clorox Company source, it is 2.75% sodium hypochlorite.  This is less than the 6.0% found in our Clorox®Regular-Bleach.

Why isn’t this displayed on the label? Are you trying to hide it from consumers?  Actually, if you check the store shelves, you will find that unless any consumer product is registered with a Government entity, it will NOT list specific amounts of any formula ingredient.  Clorox® Regular-Bleach is a registered disinfectant therefore the active ingredient statement you displayed is required by EPA.  The scented versions are not registered disinfectants and therefore do not list formula ingredients. Look at other laundry products: liquid or powder laundry detergents, stain and soil removers, even fabric softeners do not list specific ingredients on their labels. Most products are mixtures of 6-20 ingredients which would require a lot of label space to spell out.  So at best you will see general description, like surfactants or enzymes, rather than very long technical names which are meaningless to the average consumer.  How would this information help them decide whether to purchase and use a product?  Believe me as a formulator, I would love it if my competitors would list out their ingredients so I could duplicate it more quickly and get it to market.   The only other reason to have specific ingredients would be for safety.  In fact, all consumer companies share this information, on a confidential basis, with Poison Control Centers to insure appropriate treatments are followed in emergencies. 

Why wouldn’t all Clorox bleach products have the same bleach level?  The Clorox Company has a slogan “We begin and end with the consumer”.  This means that we spend a lot of time monitoring consumer needs and developing products that meet their desires.  Consumer use situations and preferences vary and if you want to be successful in the marketplace, one listens carefully, develops and tests carefully and then markets EACH product to a target group.  So some consumers want strong, disinfecting bleach, while others want less bleach odor or more control of the product.  It is our job to find the best way to deliver those needs to be the #1 bleach company that consumers trust. [PRODUCT LISTING OMITTED by Mouse Print*]

So hopefully, you better understand that there are good reasons to sell a variety of bleach products with different actives levels.  We know this is true and if you check the store shelves you’ll find a number of competitors that try to copy our products.    

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John Morrell Cooked Ham: Where’s the Beef?

john morrell ham small

Remember Clara Peller?  Some two decades ago, this cranky senior citizen was featured in television commercials for Wendy’s where she criticized competitors’ skimpy hamburgers by shouting “Where’s the beef?” [see commercial]

Well, we may have to contact John Edward (the psychic medium who speaks to the dead) to summon Ms. Peller and have her rephrase the question to “Where’s the ham?”

This package of John Morrell Cooked Ham above was quite a bargain — only $2.50 for a pound. It looks very lean. It says it is 96% fat free. What could be bad?

Under “Cooked Ham” there are more words that finish the actual name of the product: “and Water Product.”  And below that is yet a further explanation:

*MOUSE PRINT: “35% of Weight is Added Ingredients”

What’s added? According to the ingredients statement, it also contains water, dextrose, salt, and five types of sodium. But could over one-third of this product really be water and additives?  MrConsumer asked John Morrell for an explanation, and got this response:

The ham and water product is 35% added ingredients of ground ham shank and ham. This is not 35% of added “other ingredients” or “water and chemicals”.

Huh? What happened to the water listed right there on the label…twice?  So MrConsumer asked how much water was in the product. The response: “Cured in a solution of 79% water.”

We are not making progress. So MrConsumer asked again, “In my package there is 16 oz (1 pound) of ham product. What percentage of the contents of that package is water?”  Their response:

You have 1# of meat as the pkg states. When the ham is processed and cured it will weigh more then 1#. It is allowed to “drain” until the ideal weight of 1# is reached. So the meat is 1# but the solution is drained to get to that weight. Does that make since now?

No, it still doesn’t make sense, so MrConsumer thought he should consult the Department of Agriculture which probably had a standard of identity for “Cooked Ham and Water Product.” (A standard of identity sets out a legal definition of what has to be in a food product to use a particular product description.)

As it turns out, cooked ham can be sold under four different names: “cooked ham”, “cooked ham with natural juices”, “cooked ham, water added”, and “cooked ham and water product — x% of weight is added ingredients.”  As you go down the list of names, less and less real meat protein (“minimum meat PFF percentage”) has to be in the product. For cooked ham and water product, the minimum meat PFF is less than 17%. [See: http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~lrd/9CF319.html ]

The technical definition of PFF is quite complex, so MrConsumer asked the Department of Agriculture to put it in plain English and indicate whether the “less than 17%” rule meant the product could really have less than 17% ham. The answer from the USDA (received seven weeks after asking):

The protein fat free percentage (PFF) is the meat protein content indigenous to the raw, unprocessed pork cut expressed as a percent of the non-fat portion of the finished product. The number “17” refers to the percent meat protein (determined by Laboratory analysis) that is present in the non-fat portion of the finished product. This number does not denote the amount of real ham in a product.

Got it?  MrConsumer still doesn’t and he gives up.

So let’s toast Clara Peller with some ham flavored water at being much better at getting answers to “where’s the beef” than MrConsumer is about finding out “where’s the ham.” 

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AMEX Blue Cash Card: Up to 5% Cash Back*

Amex 5% Recently, Citibank announced that its dividend reward credit cards would stop paying 5% back on everyday purchases made at supermarkets, drugstores and gas stations as of mid-October, and instead only rebate 2%.

Rebate card junkies might then have gotten their hopes up after seeing this American Express Blue Cash Card application promising “up to 5% cash back.”

Not so fast.


amex 5% detail

Translation: You will only earn 5% back on purchases at supermarkets, drugstores, and gas stations (“everyday purchases”) after you have first put $6500 of purchases on the card each year, and the 5% rebate will only apply to subsequent “everyday” purchases.

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