Ecover Talks Back About Dioxane

Posted on March 27, 2008 by Allie


Last week, The Organic Consumers Association released a report on carcinogenic 1, 4-Dioxane.  It’s been found in several major brands of personal care and household cleaning products labeled organic or natural.  The brands listed included one of my favorites — Ecover.

I was so disappointed!  Not only do I love Ecover products, but I’ve been recommending them on this site constantly.   Ecover was recognized by the United Nations for their achievements in protecting and improving the environment, so their products always seemed like a great green choice.

I contacted Ecover, and they were kind enough to send me their official statement on Dioxane:

“The Organic Consumers Association recently revealed in a study that traces of dioxane where found in various consumer goods. Dioxane is classified as “Category 3 – cancerogenous effects cannot be excluded”, i.e. effects which could occur after a lengthy exposure to high concentrations.

Ecover Dishwashing liquid contains 2,4 parts of it per 1.000.000 parts of product. That is merely above the detection limit of 1 part per 1.000.000 parts of product. Dioxane traces in detergents are minute leftovers of the production process of one single component, a plant based surfactant. To date, this ingredient does not have an equally efficient or more ecological substitute, although Ecover was able to gradually and substantially reduce its relevance over the years.

Substantial quantities of dioxane are found in the production of synthetic fibers, such as polyester, a fabric that is worn daily by roughly 85 % of the planet’s population.  Mainly produced by two US companies, the ingredient is also used in high dosages as a solvent in mass production, including the paper and cotton industry as well as the polymer industry for the production of PET bottles. It is therefore astonishing that the above-mentioned investigation turned a blind eye on such superabundant and well-spread sources and preferred to single out easy-to-research, mere minute traces of dioxine in detergents.
Several years ago, the European detergent industry put a limit on dioxane traces at 100 parts per million of surfactant. Ecover’s own criterion is set at half, namely 50 parts per million. This leads to values as low as the 2,4 parts detected in the Ecover product. The threshold for reporting the presence of dioxane in tap water in The Netherlands, a country with a stringent environmental legislation, is 3 parts per million parts of water. This means that, in the unlikely event, you drank an entire bottle of pure Ecover Dishwashing liquid you still wouldn’t reach that threshold!”

I’m still going to use Ecover products for certain things.  I love their dishwasher detergent tablets and I don’t think I’m ready to give them up.  They are still better than 99% of what’s out there.  But I’m probably going to switch to Dr. Bronners, a product that was found to be free of 1,4-Dioxane, in instances where it works just as well or better.


  1. Wow… indeed. I still applaud Ecover for what they make, their mission, and their products. I don’t think companies like Ecover, Arbonne, Shaklee, Kiss My Face and others are guilty of greenwashing… I do feel they are unfortunate victims to our reliance on petroleum. :/ bah… but knowing they live by transparency for their consumer base and strive to be healthy ~ for person and Earth ~ is pretty Rockstar.

    And cheers to trying Dr. Bronners in the future. I’ve heard good things about them too. Always up for trying new products that actually work while being safe for us all. :)

    Thanks Allie :)

    March 27th, 2008 at 2:09 am
    Comment by Ashley Sue
  2. oh gosh, I use Ecover too – washing up liquid and dishwaster tabs. I found the toilet cleaner didn’t actually clean toilets (not the extreme case toilets you get with three boys in the house) just made them smell disgusting. I think I will carry on though.

    March 27th, 2008 at 9:07 am
    Comment by Reluctant Blogger
  3. I find this so frustrating. I feel like I can do anything without being exposed to something that could potentially give me cancer! Sigh.

    March 27th, 2008 at 12:54 pm
    Comment by Rachel
  4. That is sad, I use a lot of Ecover products too. I won’t give up on them completely, but its definitely good to be aware of it. This has been a week of disappointments, between that whole thing and then finding out the bad stuff about the energy saving bulbs.

    March 27th, 2008 at 1:39 pm
    Comment by Danielle
  5. It’s interesting that they make the case that thier use of dioxane is not exceptional and it actually doesn’t sound like corporate white-washing. They make a good case.

    March 27th, 2008 at 5:15 pm
    Comment by mickey
  6. I was disappointed to see Ecover on the list. I use their dish washing liquid. I am going to switch to something else because I figure if I am making the effort to be as safe, healthy and earth friendly as possible, I may as well go all the way and purchase from a company that is at the height of purity. That said, I do agree that on the grand spectrum, Ecover is better than the majority of products…

    March 28th, 2008 at 3:24 am
    Comment by Petite Planet
  7. Yeah, I think Ecover is a great company and worth supporting. I really hope they work on developing a way to cut down on Dioxane in their products. But like Petite Planet says, if I’m going green, I’m going to keep striving for the greenest I can find.

    March 29th, 2008 at 1:02 am
    Comment by Allie
  8. Hi Allie,

    I have posted about your find here:

    Great work — contacting Ecover.


    April 7th, 2008 at 9:40 am
    Comment by Karin
  9. Thanks, Karin!

    May 1st, 2008 at 3:42 pm
    Comment by Allie
  10. [...] the whole Ecover/dioxane “scandal,” I decided I’d look for another laundry detergent option.  Honestly, I’m not too upset [...]

    May 1st, 2008 at 4:24 pm
    Pingback by Allie’s Answers » Blog Archive » I washed my clothes with nuts.

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