About the detergent rules

The aim of the Detergents Regulation is to reduce the environmental risks associated with detergents and cleaning products and to improve the information on the content of the product that is given to consumers.

The Regulation concerns all products used for cleaning fixed surfaces, clothing, textiles and household effects. It is the area of use that determines whether a product is a detergent or a cleaning product, not the chemical content of the product. The product need not contain surfactants or soap; it is enough that a mixture of, say, alcohol and water will mean the product is regarded as a cleaning agent. Windscreen washer fluid and other car care products are counted as cleaning products, as are rinse aid for dishwashers and fabric softener for cleaning textiles.

If you import a product into the EU, and if you market a product under your own brand, you are also considered to be the manufacturer.

The Regulation in brief

  • Detergent for consumers which contains more than 0.5 grams of phosphorus per wash may not be sold. As of 1 January 2017, dishwasher detergent containing more than 0.3 percent by weight of phosphorus per wash may not be sold to consumers.
  • All surfactants found in detergents and cleaning products shall be easily biodegradable.
  • The contents declaration shall be shown on the packaging for consumer products.
  • The information on the packaging shall be in Swedish.
  • The rules on information do not apply to products for professional use where the need is met by a safety data sheet.
  • Manufacturers shall submit fact sheets to medical staff where necessary.
  • The manufacturer must publish a complete list of the substances included on a website which is accessible and free of charge for all. Its web address shall be easy to find on the packaging.
  • In the case of washing machine detergent, the dosage instructions shall be shown on the packaging.

Requirements regarding biodegradability

Surfactants contained in detergents and cleaning products shall be easily biodegradable. If you manufacture a mixture, it is important that you contact the supplier of the raw materials and request written information stating that the surfactants contained in the product fulfil the requirements in the Regulation. A manufacturer of a cleaning product containing surfactants included in products for professional use may apply to the Swedish Chemicals Agency for an exemption from the requirement for the product to be easily degradable. Surfactants which are at the same time active substances in biocidal products are exempted from the requirement to be easily degradable.

Contents declaration on the packaging

If the detergent or cleaning product contains any of the following substances in concentrations of over 0.2 percent, this must be stated on the packaging (see Annex VII to the Regulation):

phosphates, phosphonates, anionic/cationic/amphoteric/nonionic surfactants, oxygen-based/chlorine-based bleaching agents, EDTA/NTA and salts made from these, phenols and halogenated phenols, paradichlorobenzene, aromatic/aliphatic/halogenated hydrocarbons, soap, zeolites, polycarboxylates.

The weight percent range for an approximate concentration shall be given on the labelling on the product: < 5 percent, 5-15 percent, 15-30 percent and > 30 percent.

If the product contains enzymes, disinfectant, optical brighteners, preservatives and perfume, this must be stated on the packaging. Allergy-causing perfume substances over 0.01 percent by weight shall be stated using their individual so-called INCI name; that is to say, the international designation for substances in cosmetic products. 

Go to the European Commission’s website.

Dosage information

Washing machine detergent shall have dosage instructions on the packaging for different types of water hardness and for a 4.5 kg wash. The number of washes covered by the amount in the packaging shall be stated on the packaging and the text shall be in Swedish.

Fact sheet for medical staff

The manufacturer shall be able to submit on request a special fact sheet to medical staff. A fact sheet of this kind shall state a contents declaration in full, and the concentration of each ingredient shall be stated in the concentration intervals < 0,1 , 0.1-1 , 1-10 and > 10 percent by weight.

The ingredients shall be stated in descending order of concentration. The chemical name and CAS number shall be given as well as the information on the INCI name and designation according to the European Pharmacopoeia concerning medicines, if such information exists. 

Go to the Medical Products Agency website for information on the Pharmacopoeia.

The manufacture/importer shall, as in the past, submit product information to the Swedish Poisons Information Centre.

The Swedish Chemicals Agency participates in activities within the EU supervision network CLEEN (the Chemical Legislation European Enforcement Network), including those activities relating to detergent and cleaning products.

Go to the CLEEN website.