Inspired by the wisdom of ancient Greece and motivated by clean, healthy living, ECOS was born.
Over 50 years ago, our founder Van Vlahakis made a commitment to create safer cleaning products that protect the health and wellbeing of both people and planet. That continues to be our mission today.
Can conscious cleaning help clean up the earth?
Absolutely. We’ve spent five decades perfecting clean manufacturing and sustainable business practices, so that what’s good for you is positive for the planet, too. We see every aspect of our business as an opportunity to make our planet a little greener – and there’s no step too small along the way.
Journey to a Climate Positive Clean
We believe that saving the planet starts with small acts. That every action, big or small, has the power to lead to a more sustainable world. That’s why we’re intentional in every step of our business, from where a product is sourced, to how it’s made, to where it ends up, because we don’t just want to be neutral – we’re here to leave a positive impact on the planet we all call home.
1953 – The American Dream
Our founder Van Vlahakis arrives in NYC from Greece with $23 in his pocket. His homeland and its pure, non-toxic approach to cleaning will provide future inspiration for the creation of ECOS.
1967 – An entrepreneurial spirit
After several years working as a chemist in the cleaning products industry, Roosevelt University alum Van Vlahakis recognizes the negative health effects of the harsh chemical ingredients used in most cleaning products. He starts his own safer, greener cleaning products company in his garage in Chicago and opens his first facility in Bensenville, IL.
1977 – Welcome to California
We open our first West Coast facility in Huntington Beach, California, to meet the demand for safer cleaning products in the growing environmental movement.
1988 – The ECOS family grows
To help reduce shipping distances and minimize our carbon footprint, we add our first East Coast facility in Westwood, New Jersey.
1990 – ECOS Laundry Detergent becomes our flagship product
2008 – ECOS is recognized by the U.S. EPA for environmental safety
We earn the EPA’s highest level of recognition in the Safer Detergents Stewardship Initiative for the use of safer surfactants that are non-polluting and help protect aquatic life.
2010 – Green greetings from Illinois
We unveil our newest Midwestern Division facility in Addison, Illinois, equipped with the largest commercial solar panel array in the state.
2010 – ECOS receives California’s highest environmental honor
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger bestows on us the Governor’s Environmental & Economic Leadership Award (GEELA), recognizing our efforts to conserve resources, protect the environment and bolster local economies.
2011 – ECOS opens its doors in the beautiful Pacific Northwest
We locate our new Northwestern Division in Lacey, Washington, to reduce shipping distances to the northwestern U.S. and Canada, bringing us one step closer to carbon neutrality.
2012 – Van’s green legacy makes it to the silver screen
A Green Story, a major motion picture about ECOS founder’s life and work, premieres.
2012 – ECOS receives the U.S. EPA’s award for 100% renewable energy
The EPA’s Green Power Leadership Award recognizes our leadership in the use of renewable energy, helping advance the market for green power and the development of renewable electricity sources.
2013 – It’s good to go home
We return to our roots in the beautiful country of Greece, opening offices in Athens, expanding our international reach and reducing our carbon footprint.
2013 – ECOS becomes carbon neutral
We achieve carbon neutrality by switching all our facilities to 100% renewable energy and dramatically reducing our transportation emissions. In the process, we offset over 28 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions every year.
2014 – Continuing the family legacy
After Van Vlahakis’ passing, his daughter Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks is named President and CEO.
2014 – ECOS raises its minimum wage to $17, one of the highest in the industry
True sustainability means not just protecting the environment but also supporting workers, their families, the community and the economy.
2015 – ECOS receives TRUE Platinum Zero Waste certification
Each of our four facilities across the U.S. diverts over 95% of its waste from landfills and incineration by reducing, reusing, recycling, and most of all rethinking our approach to waste.
2016 – ECOS opens its new corporate headquarters in sunny Cypress, CA
Our flagship manufacturing facility officially opens its doors on Earth Day. The Cypress building runs on 100% clean energy and includes a solar panel garden – perfect for our HQ’s sunny Southern California location.
2016 – ECOS becomes water neutral
A new sustainability milestone is reached! After years of dedication to reducing our water use and supporting water restoration programs, we achieve the final step in the trifecta the trifecta of sustainable manufacturing (carbon neutral, water neutral and zero waste).
2017 – ECOS celebrates 50 years of environmentally conscious cleaning
We celebrate our 50th anniversary with local leaders and community partners at each of our facilities and by investing in a more sustainable future as we establish the Vlahakis Organic Chemistry Lab at Roosevelt University in Chicago, where students research green chemistry and products based on renewable resources.
2018 – ECOS is recognized as a Top Workplace
With a collaborative culture, a sustainable mission, exceptional benefits and a supportive work environment, we earn recognition in the Orange County Register’s annual list of top workplaces.
2020 – ECOS is named U.S. EPA Safer Choice Partner of the Year
Thanks to our innovations in the development of safer products, the U.S. EPA names ECOS its Safer Choice Partner of the Year for the fourth time.
The Wonders of Clean Chemistry
What if some of the most amazing discoveries in green science were yet to be made? It’s that notion that motivates our green chemists to constantly search for what can come next – from improving our formulas to discovering brand new ones. And more importantly, we believe in sharing that cutting-edge research with you every step of the way.
Sustainable chemistry is circular chemistry.
Sustainable chemistry takes into account the entire lifecycle of a product or formula, from design and manufacturing to use and disposal. It’s a holistic approach to product design that seeks to maximize both human and environmental health, and we’ve been pioneering the field for over 50 years. Our green chemists are constantly pushing the boundaries of sustainable chemistry because we believe in the power of science to improve human life and save the world.
We care deeply about where our ingredients come from. From coconuts to lavender, we’re sourcing our ingredients where they’re indigenously grown and working to create a sustainable, ethical supply chain that supports local farmers and communities.
Our Foundational Ingredients
Get to know some of nature’s best and brightest. These key ingredients are the foundation of many of our products.
Coconut oil is pressed from the inside meat (copra) of the coconut and is the raw material used to make many of our surfactants. The hard outer shell of a coconut preserves the copra and keeps it especially pure. The resulting surfactants have excellent cleaning properties and are exceptionally gentle. You can find surfactants that are made from coconuts usually by the “coco” in their name, such as “Sodium Coco Sulfate.” Coconuts are also highly renewable—a single coconut tree can produce over 50 coconuts annually and will produce fruit for up to 80 years.
This superfood is packed with antioxidants and also makes for an excellent source of cleaning power. Beets have the highest sugar content of any vegetable, and this sugar is used to create surfactants. Alkylpolyglucosides, or APGs, are surfactants made from sugars, and you can find them with names that include “glucoside,”such as decyl glucoside.
Made from fermented natural sources, vinegar has been used for cleaning since ancient times. We use vinegar for its powerful ability to cut through grease and stains in our household cleaners. In our window cleaner, vinegar helps to make sure nothing but a streak-free shine is left behind.
Minerals are naturally occurring materials from the earth’s core. From calcium chloride to sodium carbonate, we use minerals for the awesome boosting effect they have on performance. Minerals can help lift stains, remove hard water scale, and help both surfactants and enzymes work better.
Vitamin E can be found in many fruits and nuts, such as avocados, sunflower seeds and almonds. It’s a powerful antioxidant that calms skin and reduces inflammation. It also makes our hand soap distinctly soothing; you’ll feel the difference each time you wash.
Good, Clean Chemicals
Sometimes chemicals get a bad rap. The truth is, not all chemicals are cut from the same cloth. Here are some of the good, clean chemicals we use.
Solvents – Stabilizers
Solvents are chemicals that break down solutes and allow them to become part of a homogeneous solution, effectively stabilizing our formulas. They also can assist in breaking down the oils contained in the soils you’re trying to clean up.
Water Softeners – Efficacy Helpers
Water softeners bond to and hold onto metal ions, preventing everything from discoloration to hard water build-up.
pH Adjusters – Fine Tuners
We use pH adjusters so that all our products are pH balanced in a range that is safer for you and your family.
Surfactants – Cleaning Agents
Surfactants are the active agents that do the heavy lifting of soil and stain removal. Surfactants bust through water’s strong surface tension, ensuring that soils can be carried away.
Natural Fragrances & Essential Oils – Scents
Our natural fragrances include a mixture of essential oils and chemicals that are all naturally derived and sourced to improve your sensory experience.
Preservatives – Freshness Maintainers
Preservatives are used in our formulas to ensure that our products stay fresh and free of bacteria. In the absence of refrigeration or preservatives, water promotes bacterial growth. So, the more water we have in a formula, the higher the “water activity” and the more important preservatives become. Preservative chemistry has seen a lot of innovation in the last decade, and we’re constantly working to find the best and safest preservatives to use.
Enzymes – Deep Clean Boosters
Enzymes can provide a deeper fiber-level clean than most surfactants are able to do alone. We use enzymes to effectively break down protein stains, fats and starches.
Safer Ingredients lead to EPA Safer Choice
You’ll find the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Safer Choice seal on over 140 of our products. When you see the Safer Choice seal on a product, it means it passes the EPA’s rigorous standards for performance, safety and innovation.
We’ve been named the U.S. EPA’s Safer Choice Partner of the Year four times, including most recently in 2020.
Research and Development
By the time you bring an ECOS product home, we’ve dedicated hundreds of hours to testing and perfecting it. Every product formula undergoes rigorous efficacy, performance and safety testing in our state-of-the-art research and development labs as well as with trusted third-party testing labs.
We became carbon neutral in 2013 across our entire operation, largely in part by switching to 100% renewable energy and dramatically reducing our transportation emissions.In the process, we offset over 28 million pounds of CO2 emissions each year.
We achieved TRUE Platinum Zero Waste certification in 2015, meaning we actively reduce, repurpose and recycle over 95% of our manufacturing and office waste so it doesn’t end up in a landfill or incinerated.
We’ve been water neutral since 2016, after strategically reducing our water consumption, implementing concentrated formulas and restoring over 12 million gallons to critically endangered habitats each year.
Source local, ship local
We source ingredients and raw materials locally whenever possible and account for all of our transportation emissions. Our four U.S. factories are strategically located throughout the country to minimize carbon emissions from shipping.
A culture of small acts that make a big difference
We offer industry-leading sustainability incentives to our employees, including solar and electric vehicle bonuses. We also account for and offset each employee’s commute to work and business travel.
Materials & packaging
Our bottles are made from post-recycled consumer plastic, and our Innovation team is constantly working to create more sustainable packaging, like our new ECOSNext Liquidless Laundry Squares.
Built for sustainability
Our four U.S. factories were strategically built across the country to minimize carbon emissions from shipping. It’s just one more way we take into account the whole life cycle of our products.
Restoring water to critically endangered habitats
Water is critical to all life – and while we love to make safer products for people, we also want to keep wildlife safer, too. That’s why every year, as part of our commitment to achieving water neutrality, we restore 12 million gallons to critically endangered habitats. It’s the equivalent of about 600 swimming pools.