Clorox Sued Over Splash-Less Bleach That Doesn’t Disinfect
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Law360 (August 17, 2020, 5:02 PM EDT) — A California woman is suing The Clorox Co. in federal court, saying that it hides the fact that Clorox Splash-Less Bleach can’t disinfect surfaces by omitting the amount of active ingredient on its packaging.
In a suit filed Friday, Shana Gudgel said the company’s deception is worse now, during the COVID-19 pandemic that has consumers across the country buying up Clorox bleach and other products to disinfect surfaces and rooms that may have come in contact with the virus.
“When The Clorox Company first began selling its splashless bleach product without adequately disclosing that it wasn’t suitable for sanitizing or disinfecting it was deceptive advertising, but in the midst of today’s pandemic it is a more serious matter,” Gudgel said in the complaint.
According to the complaint, Clorox introduced its splashless bleach in response to consumers complaining about the regular bleach splashing when poured into a washing machine, and changed the formula to make the liquid more viscous.
But by adding ingredients to create the higher viscosity, Clorox changed the formula and altered the concentration of sodium hypochlorite, the active ingredient that disinfects, from between 5% and 6.5% to between 1% and 5%.
According to the suit, the lower concentration is not enough to sanitize and disinfect, as it needs a concentration above 5% to be effective against bacteria, fungi and viruses.
There is little difference between the packaging for regular Clorox bleach and its splashless variety, Gudgel wrote, leading to consumers buying the wrong one, and unable to properly disinfect things.
In addition, the splashless variety claims it’s “the same Clorox product you love” with “more power,” and “10x Deep Cleaning Benefits,” Gudgel wrote.
While the packaging for the regular bleach discloses the concentration of sodium hypochlorite, the splashless variety does not, she added, calling it a “cause for concern.”
While the splashless bleach does disclose that it’s not for sanitation and disinfection, Gudgel claimed this is only disclosed in small print on the back of the label.
With the company’s sales skyrocketing in response to the pandemic, the lack of adequate labeling and disclosures is dangerous, Gudgel said, with the similarity in packaging between the regular and splashless bleaches resulting in consumers wasting their money on a product that can’t disinfect.
A spokesperson for Clorox said the product was developed to be easier for consumers to use, based on feedback.
“Some of our bleach products are labeled as disinfectants and others are not,” the spokesperson said. “All disinfecting products are required by law to be registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) prior to being marketed or sold as a disinfectant. Labels for Clorox bleach expressly state whether the product should or should not be used for disinfecting purposes.”
Gudgel is seeking to represent all U.S. residents who bought the splashless Clorox within their states’ statutes of limitations, and brings claims under California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, Unfair Competition Law and False Advertising Law, as well as claims for negligent misrepresentation and unjust enrichment.
Representatives for Gudgel could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.
Gudgel is represented by Daniel Levinson and Juston Stockton of Levinson Stockton LLP, William Wright of The Wright Law Office LLP, and Daniel Faherty of Telfer Faherty & Anderson PL.
Counsel information for Clorox was not available.
The case is Gudgel v. The Clorox Co., case number 3:20-cv-05712, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
–Editing by Amy Rowe.
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