From our Greek origin story to our eco-conscious certifications, ECOS gets plenty of questions from curious customers. What does ECOS mean? How are our products “plant-powered”? Why do we choose to list all ingredients on our labels? How do we make ECOS products with safer ingredients? What do certifications like Leaping Bunny, EPA Safer Choice, and TRUE Platinum Zero Waste really mean?
It’s important to ask questions before you use any products. However, it’s particularly important to ask questions before using products around your family and home. We’re happy to answer any questions you have!
Discover the answers to some of our most frequently asked questions below.
The word “ecos” (οίκος) means “home” in Greek. In Latin, it means habitat or environment. Our mission is to create products that are safer for your ecos and the ecos of our planet. We chose ECOS as the brand name for our first plant-powered laundry detergent back in 1990.
The term “eco-conscious” means we consider the impact each product has on the environment. We think about our impact at every step of the development process – from the initial stages of research to the final stages of production in our sustainable manufacturing facilities. For example, we assess the environmental and human health impact of every raw material and ingredient, selecting only those that meet our stringent safety and sustainability criteria, and we actively track and reduce our carbon intensity through energy-efficient technologies, renewable energy sources, and carbon offset programs. Backed by 55+ years of eco-conscious cleaning product experience, we continue to develop innovative formulas with the goal of minimizing impacts on the environment. Being eco-conscious is about more than just certifications – like being the first manufacturer to achieve LEED Zero Carbon, LEED Zero Energy, and LEED Zero Waste certifications. We were founded with the mission to protect the health and wellness of people, pets, and the planet, and we continue to offer eco-conscious cleaning products to help move closer to that goal every day.
We use the term “plant-powered” because our surfactants are derived from plants. Surfactants are the active agents that provide the cleaning power in our formulas. Our surfactants are made from plant sources such as coconuts, potatoes and beets.
ECOS products are made without many ingredients found in conventional cleaning products that can harm people and the environment, such as dyes, optical brighteners, formaldehyde donors, ammonia, chlorine bleach, phthalates, parabens and phosphates. Our products are also pH balanced and have readily biodegradable formulas, and they are never tested on animals.
We’re committed to delivering the safest cleaning products that perform well for you. That’s why we partner with the U.S. EPA’s Safer Choice program. Safer Choice certification means that every ingredient in the product is the safest in its class and that it has met high standards for performance. Over 120 ECOS products are certified Safer Choice, and we’re very proud to have been named the U.S. EPA’s Safer Choice Partner of the Year seven times. For more information about Safer Choice, please visit the EPA website.
The prefix “hypo” means “low”; this means hypo-allergenic products have low allergenic potential. This is verified by a repeat insult patch test, commonly called RIPT, in which human subjects are repeatedly exposed to our products and monitored to ensure that there is no irritation. These results are then reviewed and approved by a dermatologist. It’s important to keep in mind that our hypoallergenic products are unlikely to cause an allergic reaction, but since everyone is different, it’s possible for some individuals to have a reaction.
We list our ingredients on our labels because it’s important for your health. Although disclosing ingredients isn’t required in the cleaning products industry, we believe you have the right to know what’s in the products you buy. That’s why we supported California’s Cleaning Product Right to Know Act, which was signed into law in October 2017. It requires that all cleaning products sold in California list all intentionally added ingredients online by January 1, 2020, and on the product label by January 1, 2021. You can find the ingredients in any ECOS product on the label and at ecos.com.
It means we LOVE animals and we never, ever test on animals or use any animal ingredients in our products. Leaping Bunny is the internationally recognized gold standard for cruelty-free designation. It certifies that our products and ingredients are not tested on animals, either by us or by our suppliers. We’re proud partners with Leaping Bunny!
We only use raw materials that have been proven safe through rigorous advanced lab testing, not animal testing. Many of our ingredients meet the high standards used in personal care products like shampoos and lotions.
Using ingredients that come from renewable sources helps us protect our planet’s resources. Many of our surfactants are made from coconuts, which are a sustainable, renewable resource. Once coconuts are harvested, the tree will continue to provide more coconuts for decades, supporting up to three generations of farmers. Petroleum-based ingredients, on the other hand, are not sustainable; once we use up all the earth’s petroleum sources, they’re gone forever.
Yes, ECOS laundry detergents are highly concentrated – just one ounce in a high-efficiency (HE) machine, or two ounces in a standard machine, gets clothes wonderfully clean. By making our formulas concentrated, we ship less water and more active ingredients in every bottle, reducing our carbon footprint and giving you the most value for your money.
The word “surfactant” comes from a combination of the words “surface,” “active” and “agent.” Surfactants are active agents that reduce the surface tension of water to penetrate deep into stains and carry particles away with them in the rinse water.
Enzymes are complex molecules that are found in nature that speed up chemical reactions. We use several types of enzymes in some of our formulas, and each has a specific function. Proteases break down protein stains (like cheesy eggs from breakfast); lipases break down fats, oils and grease; and amylases break down starches (like potatoes or grass stains)
We don’t use any dyes in our ECOS products. The production and use of dyes can harm both environmental and human health. Commercial dyes contain compounds like benzidine, which is known to be carcinogenic, or cancer-causing. Most dyes bioaccumulate (become concentrated in the body) and are not readily biodegradable in the environment. Dyes almost never help a product work better; they’re simply added for visual appeal. We make our products using a principle that’s fundamental to green chemistry: Don’t use unnecessary additives.
No, we don’t use optical brighteners in our ECOS laundry detergents. Optical brighteners are artificial (or synthetic) ingredients that are often added to laundry detergents to make laundry look “brighter.” They do this by leaving a pigment (like a dye) on the fabric’s surface. This is not only damaging to delicate clothes, but it’s also bad for the environment. Optical brighteners aren’t biodegradable and are often toxic to aquatic ecosystems.
Yes, we use essential oils in many of our ECOS products! Essential oils are plant oils with a wide range of properties and scents. These oils can come from leaves, roots, peels, bark or flowers. To make an essential oil, plant components are steam distilled or cold pressed to extract the oils. They can also be chemically extracted, but we only use non-chemically extracted essential oils. Essential oils can be organic if they come from organic plants, but not all essential oils are organic. We use a blend of both. Essential oils have a variety of wonderful aromatherapy attributes. Lavender is said to be naturally calming, and lemon can be uplifting. Parsley fights bad odors. However, essential oils can also be irritants. Many people have allergies to specific essential oils.
A natural fragrance, on the other hand, is a mixture of oils and chemicals that are naturally derived or sourced. Not all the ingredients contained in the mixture are essential oils. This creates all kinds of great fragrance opportunities. While most natural fragrances contain at least some of the plant scent they’re creating, some have none at all. For example, our almond natural fragrance is almost entirely made of natural benzaldehyde, which is made from the pits of cherries. Natural fragrances have other great benefits, like enabling us to remove irritants.
Fragrances are blends of several ingredients that come from a wide variety of sources, including essential oils. Some natural ingredients like fruit don’t contain essential oils (except citrus, which contains essential oils in the peel). To create our beautiful signature scents that don’t have an essential oil in nature, we use a blend of natural ingredients. Creating signature fragrances from natural ingredients also allows us to remove any allergens that many essential oils contain. For example, linalool, an allergen found in lavender oil, can be removed when blending a signature fragrance.
We source all our raw materials locally where possible and from the regions where each plant grows indigenously. Most of our lavender essential oil is sourced from the highest-quality lavender fields in the world—Provence, France. Many of our surfactants start as coconuts in southeast Asia, where they are native. The bamboo used in our ECOS treeless paper products is grown in China. This ensures not only the highest-quality ingredients but also protects natural resources and helps prevent deforestation.
Yes, we use only 100% recyclable bottles, caps and packaging.
Greywater is wastewater, like the water from your washing machine when you do a load of laundry. Greywater can be filtered and reused, and it also contains nutrients that nourish the growth of plants. But greywater’s biggest enemy is conventional household cleaning product ingredients like chlorine, sodium, phosphates, artificial dyes and bleach that can harm the environment. ECOS products are made with safer ingredients that are greywater safe and readily biodegradable, so your greywater will be safer for the environment no matter where it goes.
Yes, our products are in a pH balanced range. It’s important to have a balanced pH, which means that the pH of the product is specifically targeted for its application and is within a safe range for use and gentle on skin.
Formaldehyde was one of the first preservatives used in cleaning products, and it has been identified as a known carcinogen, or cancer-causing agent. Many companies do not intentionally add formaldehyde, but it can still be present in formulas. Some chemicals called “formaldehyde donors” can break down and degrade over time into formaldehyde. By purchasing products with all ingredients listed on the label, you can see formaldehyde or formaldehyde donors, such as such as dimethyl-dimethylhydantoin (DMDMH), imadazolidinyl urea, diazlidinyl urea, sodium hydroxyl or methyl glycinate. We do not use formaldehyde or formaldehyde donors in any of our ECOS products.
1,4-dioxane is a manufacturing byproduct that is a known carcinogen, or cancer-causing agent, and it has many other negative health effects. The U.S. EPA has identified 1,4-dioxane as a chemical of high concern for review. Ethoxylated surfactants such as sodium laureth-6 and ethoxylated alcohols, which can contain 1,4-dioxane, are manufactured by a process known as ethoxylation. This process takes a plant oil (such as coconut or palm oil) and reacts it with ethylene oxide to create a surfactant (cleaning agent). The problem is that during this process a compound known as 1,4-dioxane is also created. While it may not be intentionally added to a formula, it’s always present in formulas that use ethoxylated surfactants. We do not use ethoxylated surfactants in any of our ECOS products.
Parabens are a class of synthetic preservatives regularly found in commercial cleaning and personal care products. Studies have shown that parabens mimic estrogen in the body, which can have potentially harmful effects. When a product lists its ingredients on the label, you can see if it contains parabens such as methylparaben, butylparaben or polyparaben. We do not use parabens in any of our ECOS products.
Phosphates are chemicals that are really damaging to the environment, particularly aquatic ecosystems. Phosphates lead to over-blooming algae that eventually kill all the fish in an aquatic system. This is called eutrophication, and once this occurs, it’s irreversibly damaging. We do not use phosphates in any of our ECOS products.
Our products are tested in our state-of-the-art ECOS R&D labs and by third-party labs as well. In our labs, we conduct performance testing to make sure that the product can withstand all temperature and physical conditions that it is expected to encounter during storage and use. We also ensure that every product has the highest level of efficacy and works great. Our products are then sent out to third-party labs for a variety of tests such as preservative efficacy, performance, biodegradability, toxic risk, hypoallergenic repeat insult patch testing (RIPT) and analytical composition.
Almost all our ingredients are GMO-free, and we’re working closely with our suppliers to find GMO-free sources for our ethanol and enzymes, which are not considered GMOs but may be derived from GMO sources.
No, ECOS products do not contain corn. However, ethanol (the ingredient that makes products dry quickly) is derived from corn.
Yes, all our product formulas are gluten free.
Yes, all our product formulas are vegan.
Yes, our ECOS products are safer for pets. In fact, we have an entire line of ECOS products specifically formulated for pets! We offer grooming products, a pet stain and odor remover and specialty pet care items.
We recommend that our products be used within two years from the date of manufacture to ensure the best-quality product. You can find the date of manufacture by looking at the lot code located on the back of the bottle or package. The first six characters indicate the date of manufacture; for example, “200326420055-10” means it was manufactured on March 26, 2020 (20=the year 2020, 03=the month of March and 26=the 26th day of the month). Many factors determine shelf life; over time, oxidation can cause a harmless color shift and ingredients can start to separate, which can decrease effectiveness. You can increase shelf life by storing the product in a cool, dry place away from sunlight.
Because ECOS products are made with many plant-powered ingredients, color and body (thickness) of the products can vary. The good news is that this doesn’t affect how well they work.
Yes, once the product has thawed it’s perfectly fine to use. In our R&D labs, we freeze-thaw test all our products to make sure they perform just as well after thawing. We recommend that after thawing you shake the product well before using, as it may start to separate after freezing.
ECOS Dish Soap is formulated to be low-foaming to use less water while still working well. It performs great in grease cutting in third-party testing.
ECOS All-Purpose Cleaner is a great general cleaner that works well on non-porous or sealed surfaces where streaking is not normally an issue. Use it on wood surfaces like furniture and floors, walls, porcelain and ceramic, linoleum, laminate, concrete and stone surfaces like marble and granite.
ECOS Window Cleaner works best for surfaces that are clear or reflective because it dries quickly and prevents streaking. It works great on glass, mirrors, windows, clear plastics like plexiglass and metal surface like stainless steel (but for a deeper clean and polish, try ECOS Stainless Steel Cleaner + Polish).
No, ECOS Dish Soap Almond doesn’t contain almonds; it contains natural benzaldehyde, which can be extracted from fruit pits like cherry pits and is used as artificial almond flavoring, which is safe for most people suffering from nut allergies. However, we recommend that those with nut allergies consult their allergist before using this product. For those with sensitive skin or allergies, ECOS Dish Soap Free & Clear is a great choice.
Yes. While organic produce may not have any pesticide contamination, it still has soil residue and debris that ECOS Fruit + Veggie Wash or ECOS Organic Fruit + Veggie Wash can help remove.
The best way to use ECOS OxoBrite depends on the type of front-loading machine you have. We recommend following the owner’s manual on where to add bleach. Some machines have a harder time dissolving OxoBrite than others; if that’s the case with your machine, you can dissolve a scoop (or more) of OxoBrite in a cup of warm water and put it in the bleach dispenser. We don’t recommend keeping any remaining mixture for later use but instead dissolving just as much OxoBrite as needed for each load.
Yes, our products are safe for septic systems, except for OxoBrite and One-Step Disinfectant Cleaner, which contain forms of hydrogen peroxide that kill bacteria – both good and bad. Septic systems need a good mix of healthy bacteria to work well. If hydrogen peroxide is added, it can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in the septic system.
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