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ECOS Dishwashing Liquid – Safe or Toxic?

Written by Irina Webb

Seven hundred is an average estimation of how many days we spend doing the dishes in a lifetime.  Even with the help of dishwashers, people spend five and a half hours a week on washing the dishes.  On the one hand, the dishes become clean.  But on the other hand, we may get an allergic reaction, and even our long-term health may be impacted.  Washing the dishes is something we cannot stop doing, but we can stop using toxic dish soap.  Most dishwashing liquids consist of toxic petrochemicals with other toxic chemicals added to make them look attractive and smell nice.  This post will talk about ECOS dishwashing liquid Dishmate Dish Soap, a popular brand you can find in most grocery stores.  Keep reading to find out if ECOS dish soap is safe for you.

ECOS Dishwashing Liquid – Safe or Toxic? A photo of ecos dish soap.

Ingredients to avoid in dishwashing soap

Before we discuss ECOS, let us talk about the potentially toxic ingredients in dishwashing products that are better to avoid.

Fragrance, colorants, and ethoxylated ingredients

To begin with, as a mixture of multiple ingredients, fragrance may contain chemicals that may cause allergic reactions, endocrine disruption, and even cancer.  Thus, the EWG Skin Deep database gives fragrance a rating of 8 out of 10 (with 10 as most toxic).  To learn more about the unexpected pitfalls of fragrance, please visit my Is Natural Fragrance Safe? post.

Then, colorants may contain residues of heavy metals and of petroleum-based carcinogenic contaminants.  These chemicals are harmful not only to humans, but also to the environment and aquatic life.  If you would like to learn more about colorants, please check out my post Heavy Metals in Makeup.

Next, ethoxylated ingredients are those that may be contaminated with carcinogenic 1,4-dioxane.  To specify, you may recognize them by such words as PEG, Polysorbate, and ending “-eth” (e.g. Laureth-7).  Although it does not mean that your dishwashing liquid with these ingredients will cause cancer, I recommend avoiding it.  I believe carcinogenic substances should not be produced in the first place.

Read on to find out if ECOS dishwashing liquid has any of these concerning ingredients.  Also, you will discover what ECOS dish soap uses instead of the harsh preservatives we will discuss below.

Harsh preservatives

The preservatives that raise many concerns are benzisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, methylchloroisothiazolinone, and those that release formaldehyde.

First, benzisothiazolinone may cause an allergic skin reaction, and is very toxic to aquatic life (source).

Second, methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI) is fatal if swallowed, inhaled, or if it comes in contact with the skin.  To be fair, the small amount that they use in dish soap is not going to be fatal but, still, “fatal if in contact with skin” sounds quite disturbing.  In addition, MCI may cause irritation or an allergic reaction (source). 

Third, methylisothiazolinone (MI) is fatal if inhaled, and is toxic if swallowed or if it comes in contact with the skin, too.  Like MCI, MI may cause an allergic reaction (source). 

Further, formaldehyde-releasing preservatives are associated with widespread allergic contact dermatitis.  For instance, these preservatives include methenamine, quaternium-15, and DMDM hydantoin.  

To read more about the ingredients to avoid in dishwashing liquids, please head over to my post Non-Toxic Dishwashing Soap Guide.  In this guide, you will learn which dish soap brands are worst, bad, better, and best to use in your kitchen.

ECOS dishwashing liquid

First of all, I would like to point out that ECOS has reformulated its ingredients and is using better ones now.  I believe this is a testament to consumer power.  I applaud both ECOS and you, my reader, for contacting companies, asking them questions, and providing them with your feedback. 

So, the ingredient of the biggest concern – methylisothiazolinone – is gone now.  Yay!  With this said, let us look at the ingredients of ECOS Dishmate Dish Soap.

ECOS dish soap ingredients

ECOS Dishmate Dish Soap has 9 ingredients:

Water, Sodium Coco Sulfate, Cocamidopropylamine Oxide, Lauramine Oxide, Coco Betaine, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate, Citric Acid. 

Let us talk about each of them briefly.

Water in ECOS dish soap

While water may sound innocuous, please know that the presence of water provides a breeding environment for microbial and fungal growth.  Therefore, the presence of water indicates the need for preservatives.

Preservatives in ECOS dishwashing liquid

As I mentioned previously, ECOS Dishmate Dish Soap used to have methylisothiazolinone as one of its preservatives.  With it gone now, there are two preservatives in the formula – phenoxyethanol and ethylhexylglycerin.

First, phenoxyethanol has a rating of 2-4 out of 10 in the EWG, with skin irritation being the primary concern.  On a positive note, it is not registered as an environmental toxin.

From a safety point of view, phenoxyethanol is better than some of its alternatives, such as formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, parabens, and methylisothiazolinone.  However, the American Society of Contact Dermatitis lists it among allergens even in concentrations as low as 1%.  The main reason I am cautious about phenoxyethanol is its manufacturing process.  Please, read my post about phenoxyethanol in skin care to find out more about it.

The second preservative in ECOS dish soap is ethylhexylglycerin, and the EWG rates it at 2 out of 10.  Many manufacturers of natural and green personal and skin care products use it now.  It is popular because it is derived from plants or grains.  And yes, the American Society of Contact Dermatitis added it to its list of allergens in 2014 but only if used in concentrations of 5% or greater.  I use and recommend products with it.

Surfactants in ECOS dishwashing liquid

There are four surfactants in ECOS Dishmate Dish Soap: sodium coco-sulfate, cocamidopropylamine oxide, lauramine oxide, and coco betaine.

First, sodium coco sulfate is a coconut-based synthetic detergent.  Although the EWG rates it 1 out of 10, it does not have any data on it. 

On the other hand, the PubMed database shows only one result for its health information search.   According to this study, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Panel (trade association established by the industry) deemed it safe in the concentration described in the safety assessment.  However, the assessment is based on a study of an entire group of surfactants, not specifically this one.  The point is that there is not much data here.

Second is cocamidopropylamine oxide, another coconut-based synthetic detergent with insufficient safety data.  Thus, the EWG rates it 1 out of 10, with limited safety data.  Additionally, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Panel’s report states that it is not an allergen.  As for the long-term health effects, we do not know much about them. 

Next, EWG rates lauramine oxide 1 with limited data.  Besides, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Panel found it non-allergenic and non-mutagenic.  

Lastly, like the previous surfactants, the EWG rates coco betaine 1 with limited data.  The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel found it non-allergenic. 

In conclusion, the ECOS surfactants are safer than most surfactants in dishwashing liquids and even in shampoos.  It is because they are not carcinogens, allergens, or endocrine disruptors.  However, similar to the majority of surfactants, they lack long-term safety data. 

Tetrasodium glutamate diacetate and citric acid in ECOS dish soap

To begin with, a chelating agent, tetrasodium glutamate diacetate serves as a water softener in this ECOS dishwashing liquid formulation.  Further, the European Chemicals Agency reports no notified hazards for this substance.  

Finally, citric acid functions as a pH adjuster and is safe in small concentrations for this purpose.  If you would like to know about the interaction of sodium benzoate and citric acid in cosmetic products, please head over to my post Sodium Benzoate & Citric Acid Myth.

Are ECOS dishwashing liquid ingredients safe?

As you can see, ECOS Dishmate Dish Soap is not your safest product.  A lot of ingredients lack long-term safety data.  However, the safest options are normally made with saponified soap that might not work well with hard water.  If you prefer to be on the safe side, you might want to wear gloves.  Wearing gloves will also allow you to use hotter water, which will help with breaking down grease so you can use smaller amounts of the dishwashing liquid.  In addition, wearing gloves will prevent any potential skin absorption of any chemicals in ECOS dishwashing liquid.

On the other hand, ECOS is not the worst dish liquid either.  Specifically, it does not contain any ingredients from my “ingredients-to-avoid” list.  Besides, I have checked to see if ECOS Dishmate Dish Soap ingredients are on the State of California Proposition 65 list, in the Endocrine Disruption Exchange database, and on the Environment Canada Substance List, and none of the ingredients came up.

Additionally, it is important to note that the Design for the Environment, an EPA partnership program labels ECOS dish soap as safe for people and the environment.  This means that the concentrations of chemicals used in the formulation were assessed and deemed safe based on the knowledge we have at this point.

Conclusion about ECOS dishwashing liquid

All-in-all, if you are a fan of “traditional” dishwashing liquid that produces a lot of suds and breaks down grease well, use ECOS Dishmate Dish Soap – Free & Clear.  Especially, if you use hard water, saponified soaps will not help much with breaking down grease.  So, considering the alternatives, ECOS is not a bad product at all. 

Nevertheless, I recommend going for the unscented version because of the “natural fragrance” in the scented ones.  Please read my post about natural fragrance to find out why I am not a fan of natural fragrance as an ingredient.

Finally, you can find many non-toxic options for home and personal care in my shop.  Also, consider booking a consultation with me for further assistance with healthy living.  Or better yet, get instant access to the lists of the safest products in many categories by joining the Savvy Consumer Circle, where you can interact with like-minded savvy consumers.  (We are starting our second year, and 100% of its members who signed up when we launched renewed their membership. So, we must be doing something right!) 

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18 thoughts on “ECOS Dishwashing Liquid – Safe or Toxic?”

  1. Have you looked into any of the crystal spray deodorants?

    How can I set your blog as the recipient of all of my Amazon purchases? I’d be happy to switch my settings, but I think I need your link.

    1. Hi, Kamila! Yes – I have looked into crystal spray deodorants and I do not recommend them. Crystal spray deodorant contains potassium alum, which is a form of aluminum. More about aluminum is in this post here. Have you seen my list of deodorants my husband likes?
      As for Amazon, please bookmark any page of my blog, such the ones above, as Amazon. When you want to shop on Amazon, open my blog page and click on the Amazon link on the bottom of the right panel. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

  2. Unlike the old Ultra Dishmate, there is no label of “1, 4-Dioxane free” shown on the new Ecos dish soap bottle. Does this mean they are no longer free of 1,4-Dioxane? I am hesitating to buy the new one.

    1. As a consumer, we never know for sure. That’s I try to avoid ingredients that may contain 1,4-dioxane altogether. Check out this list of dishwashing liquids here. Thanks. ~Irina

  3. I am disappointed to find out here that Ecos is now the maker of my favorite Dishmate. I’ve tried Ecos laundry detergent and the scent makes me gag. Of course I bought it from Costco. I don’t think Costco can truly carry anything I approve of.

  4. It might be good to look into the ingredients that are labelled as “plant derived”. Simply because something was made from plants does not make it safe. There are manufacturers that make SLS (a carcinogen) out of coconut oil. Does that make it less carcinogenic? Obviously not.

    1. Cocamide DEA derived from coconut oil is on the California Proposition 65. By the way, SLS has not been classified as a carcinogen. ~Irina

    2. Have you checked out ecover zero fragance free dishsoap. I have been researching ingredients but am not sure about it

        1. Ecover unscented dish soap DOES HAVE methisothiazolone!!!!! I just got a call back from the company today after seeing a review on Amazon that stated it is lying on the label. The rep for Ecover said that the manufacturer adds it!!! And they don’t put it on the label. She said she will for sure bring up to her higher ups the need for transparency. I almost bought a 6 pack on Amazon and now know to stay away. Please spread the word!!! How many other companies are lying about ingredients due to obvious loopholes??

  5. What is the current status on the MI in Ecos dishmate free and clear liquid? I was recently diagnosed with the MI allergy so I bought it because it was not listed. But I definitely react to it? Thanks.

    1. Had to look up MI allergy….that’s me!! everthindg getting worse….down to having no clean clothes or dishes, without dizzy/nauseous, and now vertigo/vomiting with cardboard boxes. Just trying to find a place in Florida where I can get MCI/MI testing. learned much today. Thanks. sami

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