Is it legal to advertise soft washing as "eco-friendly?

April 13, 2022

Are you legally allowed to advertise soft washing as "eco-friendly?

There's a great deal of misinformation published, whereby a variety of products are marketed for their supposed "eco-friendly" attributes. Attributes that often do not stand up to true scientific scrutiny.

New UK laws: the Environment Act 2021

The Environment Act was passed into law on the 9th November 2021 and came into full effect in January 2022.

Few of us will have the stamina to slog through the dense text of the actual government bill, so click here for a readable overview.

What does "eco-friendly" really mean?

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, being eco-friendly means being "designed to have little or no damaging effect on the environment".

Sounds good, but some reports suggest that as much as 40% of environmentally friendly claims may be purposely misleading and inaccurate, for which the generic name is "greenwashing".

Wikipedia states: "'Greenwashing', also called 'green sheen', is a form of manipulative spin in which green PR or green marketing is deceptively used to promote the perception that an organisation's products, aims or policies are environmentally friendly."

Wikipedia goes on to state: "Environmentally-friendly processes (also referred to as eco-friendly, nature-friendly and green), are sustainability and marketing terms referring to goods and services, laws, guidelines and policies that claim reduced, minimal, or no harm upon ecosystems and the environment."

A common area of confusion is whether eco-friendly also means non-toxic. The answer is No. Eco-friendly refers to a product or process that reduces, minimises or is completely harmless to our environment. Whereas the term "non-toxic" applies to products that lack ingredients that cause actual harm to living organisms.

Our reading of this particular legislation suggests that although softwash biocides and other chemicals are clearly toxic (i.e. they are designed to kill unwanted organisms), they could still be regarded as eco-friendly if they meet the criteria of offering reducedminimal, or no harm to our environment. (but see the next section for the bad news ...)

Click here for legal info about greenwashing

Click here to read the latest (2021) UK government guidance about making environmentally friendly claims for products and services

So can softwash biocides be advertised as "eco-friendly"?

Unfortunately not. Now we have to look at yet another piece of legislation to understand exactly what the official guidelines for advertising biocides are:

Click here to read the HSE Advertising Requirements for Biocidal Products

The HSE defines a biocide as "a chemical substance, mixture, or micro-organism intended to control any harmful organism in a way that is not purely physical or mechanical".

So this legislation appears to cover all soft washing chemicals based on sodium hypochlorite, ddac, bac, etc.

What words are you not allowed to use to promote soft washing? 

The UK HSE (Health & Safety Executive) have identified the following terms that they deem to be misleading and tell us must not be used when advertising biocides and their applied uses (e.g. soft washing).

This legislation appears to target everyone involved in soft washing, from manufacturers and distributors to cleaning contractors who soft wash customer's properties.

These advertising terms have been decided to be unacceptable:

  • low-risk
  • non-toxic
  • harmless
  • natural
  • environmentally friendly
  • animal friendly
  • any similar terms ...

What about Benz Softwash biocides and cleaning chemicals?

  • Click here to learn more about the eco-friendliness of soft washing
  • Bio Cleanze & Perma Cleanze are fully biodegradable, do not bio-accumulate, and have zero impact on the wider environment outside of the colonisation they are designed to control.
  • Lightning Cleanze and Tornado Cleanze have fully biodegradable surfactants and the active ingredient, sodium hypochlorite, breaks down upon contact with organic matter into water and a tiny amount of salt. They do not bio-accumulate.

  • Oxy Cleanze is not classified by the GHS/CLP (Globally Harmonised System / Classification, Labelling & Packaging of substances and mixtures) as toxic or harmful to the environment. Its chemical composition as an inorganic compound means that it cannot be tested for biodegradability (as is also the case for sodium hypochlorite). It is not harmful to the environment given the very small quantities that are used to treat oxidation stains and calcium carbonate (limescale) removal.

Click here to read government guidance on making environmental claims for products and services (including a video about their "Green Claims Code")

So the lesson to be drawn from the increasingly complex legislation is to avoid making "eco-friendly" claims for your soft washing business.

By stating in your marketing materials only scientifically verifiable facts that are in line with government rules and legislation, all will be well.


Click here to get more practical soft washing how-to tips

How to find answers to most soft washing questions: Simply enter a relevant "keyword" or short phrase (e.g. keyword for above link = "how to") into our in-site Search Engine (the magnifying glass icon on main menu) 

You can order Benz Softwash chemicals & equipment online or by phone:

GB (England, Scotland, Wales)

Phone: 0800 70 74 222 


Ireland and other countries

Phone: 00353 214 622 978


Lines open Monday - Friday, 9am – 5pm

Please note: The above numbers are for orders only (click here for tech support)

We sincerely wish you great success in your soft washing business, 

Ben, Leo, Fiona, Stevie & Anthony


Click here to explore the extensive range of Benz Softwash cleaning chemicals & equipment

Benz Softwash Bio Cleanze DDAC biocide & Benz Softwash Lightning Cleanze SH sodium hypochlorite biocide

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