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USDA Organic vs. ICEA Organic: What Do These Organic Labels Mean?

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USDA vs ICEAIf you walk through any supermarket, you’ll see products with all kinds of labels. Understanding what an organic label represents can help you make more informed food and laundry detergent choices. Organic Control Laundry Detergent is certified organic by the ICEA. U.S. consumers not familiar with the label may wonder how this compares to USDA Organic certification. What follows is some information regarding USDA organic certification and ICEA organic certification.

USDA Organic Laundry Detergents vs. ICEA Organic Laundry Detergents:

USDA Organic


  • Does not have a certification process for laundry detergents and cosmetics
  • Does not have a certified organic label for laundry detergents and cosmetics
  • Laundry detergents and cosmetics labeled organic are not certified by the USDA



ICEA Organic


  • Has a clear and stringent certification process for a laundry detergent to be deemed organic
  • Has a label to designate products ICEA Organic
  • Products labeled organic meet clear and specific standards



What is USDA Organic?

In order for a product to be certified USDA organic, producers must follow federal guidelines regarding soil, animal husbandry, pest control, and use of additive substances. If you are purchasing meat or vegetables, it is easier to understand how the organic certification applies to your product, as whole vegetable or animal products have been farmed in accordance with federal guidelines. However, when it comes to processed foods, in order for a product to be deemed USDA organic, the ingredients used in the product must be at least 95% organic. The product must be free of pesticides, and the products used must have been produced without the use of pesticides or chemical fertilizers. Genetic engineering, the use of dyes, industrial solvents, or irradiation is also not permitted. Any other ingredients must be from a specific list of approved ingredients. However, there are other designations. A product can be “made with organic” ingredients, meaning that the specified ingredient must be organic, or that 70% of the product must be organic. In this case, the product will not carry the organic seal. Detergents and cosmetics are not certified under these processes.

Laundry Detergents Never Carry the USDA Organic Seal

The USDA organic seal applies to food products only, so consumers purchasing laundry detergents, cosmetics, or other products won’t find any laundry detergent bearing the USDA organic seal. This means that, unless you contact a company directly, you won’t know what percentage of the laundry detergent derives from organic ingredients. In fact, consumer advocacy groups are worried that laundry detergents bearing “organic” on the label are not being held to any federal standard, and therefore it isn’t clear what consumers are purchasing when they see “organic” on the label.

What is ICEA Organic?

In order for a product to meet ICEA organic certification requirements, the product must be produced without chemical substances that have been deemed harmful to humans, animals, or the environment. The ICEA has a clear and stringent certification process for its organic detergents. Not only must products meet standards for organic ingredients, but products are also subjected to dermatological testing to certify that they are appropriate for sensitive skin. For instance, for a laundry detergent to be ICEA certified, it must be free of “at risk” materials, free of irritating or allergenic materials, and be just as effective as a conventional detergent. In addition, the packaging must be made from renewable, raw, and recyclable materials. Organic laundry detergents use vegetables harvested using organic practices. In many ways, the ICEA organic certification process is must more stringent regarding laundry detergent. Not only must the detergent meet strict organic certification standards, but the detergent must also be anti-allergenic and just as effective as other conventional detergents. Additionally, packaging must also show a respect for the environment. Much like the USDA organic designation for food, organic laundry detergent must only include substances from an approved list.

Is ICEA Approved by the USDA?

The USDA has established an “Organic Integrity Database” to help consumers identify international products that fall under the organic category. ICEA is on the USDA’s list of certified organic operations. This means that when you see the ICEA label, you can rest assured that the label is approved by the USDA as a certified organic operation.

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