Seventh Generation has debuted a downloadable label-reading guide that helps consumers understand ingredients in common cleaning products.

The company's label-reading guide contains a searchable and browsable list of ingredients that explains what each ingredient is, what it is used for, and what effect it has.

A search for Alkyl Dimethyl Benzyl Ammonium, for example, tells me that the chemical is a preservative, surfectant, foam booster, or skin-softening agent used in kitchen, bathroom, and surface cleaners. The chemical is corrosive to the skin, irritates the eyes, and is toxic to fish.

Seventh Generation's widget is available for Windows Vista and also comes as a mobile phone app, so consumers can look up ingredients while shopping at the grocery store.