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Household Products

Household chemicals have been heavily tested on rabbits and many other mammals, particularly rodents and dogs, for years... Applied directly to eyes and bare skin they cause atrocious injuries on living animals which have been monitored to assess the risk of their use in products we buy off the shelf.

Finished cleaners, glues, paints and other household products have all been tested in this way, as well as each of the chemical components listed on the label. The 11,547 rabbits tested in laboratories in 2014 weren’t categorised as having been used to develop household chemicals though – the last of the trials falling under this category in the UK took place in 2010. But what we can’t know is whether the experiments they endured contributed to these domestic products anyway. Toxicity tests for chemicals primarily used for non-household applications are still allowed, and the results can deliver the safety data needed for their use in products for the home.

In 2010, the Coalition Government pledged to end the testing of household products and their ingredients on animals, and this intention was confirmed in July 2011 by Lynne Featherstone (then Home Office Minister). But soon after the 2015 general election, Government diluted these plans to the point of having no effect on the aims of reducing, replacing or refining the use of animals in tests of this type.

Under the new rules, if more than half of a new ingredient is to be used in household products, it can’t be tested on animals. However, if more than half will be used instead in commercial chemical supplies, or in industry, or for completely different applications, testing is still legal.

The current policy allows all testing of biocides, pesticides and plant protection products; food contact materials, medical chemicals, products intended to be used in an industrial or institutional setting or by any ‘professional’. And if those products happen to end up being marketed for home use too, regulations won’t be a problem for manufacturers at all!

This is how companies across Europe, including UK manufacturers, will be able to comply with the EU Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulations, when applying to use new ingredients to bring updated or new household products to the market. All that’s required is to develop a chemical most of which will be used for non-household applications. How many of the chemicals available to buy for home use are only for use at home? Of course, every man made product that’s a component of domestic products is also widely used in business and industrial settings.

Our view is that it’s unacceptable to use animals during the development of new products when so many similar products already exist. We believe there’s only one way to ensure no further animals suffer during the development of domestic chemicals in the UK – a full ban on the sale of household products which contain new ingredients tested on animals. Without a full ban in place, experiments will continue to inflict pain and suffering upon our defenceless and voiceless animal friends.

Plenty of cleaners, deodorisers, conditioners, polishes and laundry products are already available which are effective and at Naturewatch Foundation we’ve compiled a list of the manufacturers which offer these under a Fixed Cut-Off Date, their commitment that animals haven’t been tested for their products after a specified point in time. You can order a copy of the guide and see for yourself that there’s no good reason at all for Government to enable animal testing for any new liquids, powders or sprays with so much choice already on offer.

Together with any donations, your purchase of the Naturewatch Foundation Compassionate Shopping Guide is a great way to support our continuing call for a full ban for household chemicals tested on animals.

We rely on your support to:

  • Appeal directly to Government to introduce a full ban on the sale of household products which contain ingredients tested on animals after a fixed cut-off date
  • Lobby for repeal of clause 24 of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, the Secrecy Clause, which prevents us from learning how chemicals that went on to be used in household products were tested, or to question the harm caused to animals through procedures conducted in secret.
  • To research and compile our guide to Household Products not tested on animals since a fixed cut-off date, the Compassionate Shopping Guide
  • To support a network of voluntary supporters who share information about the poorly understood animal testing regime in the UK, through events, presentations and the media.

If you’d like to help support our work, please email to find out more about volunteering, or make a donation by clicking here.


Thank you.