As well as food, clothes, and cosmetics, you’ll need to look out for other household items, like cleaning products and even toilet rolls. You’d be surprised which items can hide animal ingredients, so you should always check, even if it seems innocuous. The good news is that vegan options for household products are common.

Similarly to cosmetics, you should remember that just because the item displays the word ‘vegan’ on the label, it does not mean that the product is vegan. Vegan is not a protected label and only means that the ingredients contained in the product are not animal-derived. Even in this instance though, it is still common that the brand tests its products on animals, meaning that the item labeled ‘vegan’ is not vegan at all. Similarly, an item can be marked ‘cruelty-free’ and still contain animal ingredients. Remember:

Vegan: Contains no animal-derived ingredients.
Cruelty-Free: Not tested on animals.

For a household product to be vegan, therefore, you should make sure that it is not tested on animals and it does not contain any animal ingredients. Unlike cosmetics, it is still not common to find household products labeling themselves as vegan, so you will have to check the ingredients more often. On the other hand, you’ll often find cleaning products that are not advertised as vegan but are.

The best advice I can offer is to first establish whether or not the brand tests on animals, sites like Ethical Elephant are good for this. You should then check out the ingredients to make sure there are no red flags, some common ones to look out for are:

  • Lanolin: Comes from sheep’s wool
  • Caprylic Acid: Comes from cow’s milk
  • Oleyn alcohol: Comes from fish
  • Beeswax/honey: Comes from bees.

Though somewhat separate, it is also worth pointing out that not all alcohol is vegan. Some cheaper wines can contain milk as a thickener, and some beers are filtered using isinglass, that comes from fish scales. The Barnivore website or app is an easy way to check that what you’re drinking is vegan.

This can all sound a bit daunting, but you will find reliable products and brands over time. If you struggle to find options near you, there are plenty of online stores that sell only vegan items, though they do tend to be a bit more expensive. Alternatively, cleaning products and items like toothpaste are easy to make for yourself. For example, you can find a simple recipe for an all-purpose cleaning solution here.

You don’t need to go for products that specifically market themselves as vegan, since many regular household products will be vegan. In particular, many options marketed as ‘eco-friendly’ or ‘natural’ tend to be vegan. This will all be a bit of a pain at first, but give it a couple of shopping trips and it will become second nature. You’ll make a mistake here and there, but over time you’ll develop a good sense of what is most likely to be vegan and what you need to check.