1,4-Dioxane: What You Need to Know About This Carcinogenic Chemical
January 30, 2023

1,4-Dioxane: What You Need to Know About This Carcinogenic Chemical

Have you heard about the 1,4 Dioxane NY State ban in cosmetics, personal care, and cleaning products? Did you know that 1,4 Dioxane is a solvent and probable human carcinogen present in many popular laundry detergents? Here is what you need to know.

What is 1,4-Dioxane?

1,4-Dioxane is a toxic and potentially carcinogenic chemical used as a solvent and stabilizer in various industrial processes. It can be found in personal care and cleaning products such as shampoos, soaps, detergents, or toothpastes.

1,4-Dioxane presence can only be detected by lab testing as it results from a chemical process called ethoxylation.

Ethoxylation is used to make certain ingredients in personal care and cleaning products milder and less irritating to the skin. The process involves the addition of ethylene oxide, a toxic chemical, to other ingredients to create new compounds known as ethoxylates. Some common examples of ethoxylates found in personal care and cleaning products include sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES) and polyethylene glycol (PEG).

The addition of ethylene oxide can result in the formation of small amounts of 1,4-dioxane, as a byproduct. This is why many consumers and organizations are concerned about the use of ethoxylated ingredients in personal care and cleaning products and are advocating for the use of alternative, safer ingredients.

In Europe,1,4-Dioxane is not banned but regulated by the European Union (EU) through the EU's cosmetics regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009. According to this regulation, 1,4-dioxane is not allowed to be used as an ingredient in cosmetic products.

New York State banned 1,4-Dioxane

Effective December 31, 2022, New York state passed a law limiting the amount of 1,4-Dioxane that can be present in household cleaning, personal care, and cosmetic products in the state. 

New York established a maximum allowable concentration of 2 parts per million of 1,4-dioxane in household cleaning and personal care products (a threshold which will lowered to 1 ppm by the end of 2023) and 10 ppm limit for cosmetics.

Just to give you an idea, here is the amount of 1,4-dioxane contained in popular brands:

1,4-Dioxane contents in parts per million (ppm)*

1,4-Dioxane parts per million (ppm)
Dawn Dish soap 3.6
Tide Original​ Laundry Detergent
Gain Original Laundry Detergent 10
Victoria’s Secret (Love Fragrance Wash)
Neutrogena Rainbath Shower and Bath Gel 
Pantene Pro-V Nature Fusion Shampoo
Herbal Essences Platinum Shampoo

* Data from 2019 Consumer Shopping Guide


Which products have been affected by the ban?

The New York ban on 1,4-Dioxane impacted a wide range of personal care and cleaning products sold in the state. Some of the brands and products who were found to contain high levels of 1,4-Dioxane and that were affected include:

  • Johnson & Johnson: Several of Johnson & Johnson's baby shampoo and bath products, including Johnson's Baby Shampoo
  • L'Oreal: Several of L'Oreal's popular hair care and styling products, including Garnier Fructis shampoo and conditioner
  • Procter & Gamble: Several of Procter & Gamble's laundry detergents, including Tide and Gain
  • Unilever: Several of Unilever's personal care products, including Dove body wash and Suave shampoo.

    How to avoid 1,4 dioxane?

    Companies are not required to disclose the list of ingredients they use whether it is on their website or their packaging.

    To avoid 1,4-dioxane, you can look for products with certification from organizations like EWG Verified or check for 1,4-dioxane-free certifications on the product label. Avoiding products with "PEG," "polyethylene," and "polyethylene glycol" in the ingredients list can also lower exposure risk. 

    At ekologicall, our mission is to help you transition to a more healthier, simpler and sustainable lifestyle. We carefully curated our products and provide the full list of ingredients. For instance, Meliora cleaning products are made without ethoxylated ingredients, therefore they do not contain any 1,4-Dioxane.