Detergents are chemicals, so their classification and labelling requirements are laid down in chemicals legislation. In addition to the provisions of chemicals legislation, the Detergent Regulation sets the requirement for more specific detergent package labelling on issues including the ingredient datasheet, the number of standard washing machine loads and the enterprise's contact details.
Detergent packages sold to consumers must have labelling providing information including the following:
- There must be detailed information about the detergent's ingredients (ingredient datasheet). The most common fragrances with potential to cause contact allergy must be listed if present at concentrations exceeding 0.01% by weight; this is compulsory regardless of whether the fragrance was added to the product as such or whether it originates from substances such as essential oils. This change makes it easier for consumers who are sensitised to fragrances to select a suitable detergent. All preservation agents added to the detergent must also be listed. Both fragrances and preservation agents must be listed using, where possible, the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) name.
- The package must provide the recommended quantities and/or dosage instructions to a standard washing machine load for soft, medium and hard water hardness classes and number of standard washing machine loads of 'normally soiled' fabrics that can be washed with the contents of the package (number of washes).
- The number of washes can be expressed either using a number or a symbol. In Finland water is usually soft, so there may be two numbers indicating the number of washes in a detergent package. The larger number shows the number of washes using the dosage for soft water and the smaller number that for medium-hard water. This is because less detergent is needed when using soft water than when using medium-hard water.
The first update to the Detergent Regulation also made it compulsory to include a website address from which the list of ingredients can be obtained. The ingredient information must primarily be provided using the INCI names. Perfumes are declared as a group using the word 'parfum' and colouring agents using the word 'colorant'. Essential oils are declared using the INCI name without listing the substances they contain. The most common fragrances with potential to cause contact allergy must, however, always be listed if present at concentrations exceeding 0.01% by weight. The website must include a link to the Commission website that provides a table of correspondence between INCI names and CAS numbers.
For industrial or institutional detergents not available for consumers the above ingredient data need not be provided in package labelling. Instead, it can be provided in the safety data sheet or technical data sheet. The packaging of detergents regarded as biocides, such as disinfectants, will be required to have special biocidal product labelling following a transitional period.
Specific provisions regarding detergent package labelling are laid down in Annex VII to the Regulation, as amended.