Why We Don't Include 1,4-dioxane in our Laundry Detergent

Bright blue socks rest below a wire hanger on a white background.

We made a laundry detergent that’s safe for you and the planet. 1,4-Dioxane is one thing we left out: here’s why.

Foamy water seen from above.

You’re probably not going to find 1,4-Dioxane on a label, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. You might not have even heard of it before. If it doesn’t sound familiar, don’t worry—you’re not alone: it’s not commonly seen written this way. 1,4-Dioxane is a clear liquid compound that disappears in water. For a long time, it’s been pretty widely used as a solvent in the manufacture of other chemicals; things like ink and adhesives, shampoos, soaps, detergents and many cleaning products. It’s irritating to the skin, eyes, and respiratory system, and is a possible cause of not only cancer, but damage to the liver and kidneys.

To understand this toxic chemical a bit better, it helps to know that most beauty, personal care, and home cleaning products these days don’t have 1,4-Dioxane as an intentionally added ingredient outright. In many cases, it’s created as a byproduct of the manufacturing processes used to produce certain cleaning ingredients. How does that look on a product label? Ingredient lists that contain sulfate-based ethoxylates or ethoxylated surfactants and polymers, such as Sodium alkyl ether sulfate, Sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES), Laureth-6, Laureth-7, and polyethylene glycols (PEG … are very likely containing 1,4-Dioxane in trace amounts—or more.

High levels of 1,4-Dioxane found in the environment may come directly as a result of waste discharge from manufacturing sites. It can also enter the water supply through trace amounts from soaps, detergents, and personal care products when we use them every day. The add-on effects can become significant and widespread this way. Long Island, with its 7.5 million residents, was reported to have the highest exposure to 1,4-Dioxane in the country. When products containing trace amounts of 1,4-Dioxane are used frequently on a daily basis, the toxin enters the water supply, gets accumulated, and is difficult to filter out.

It sounds scary. And yes, the health risks are well documented. But in some places, the research surrounding this toxin is finally starting to pay off.


As a result of the report of high levels on Long Island, near the end of 2019 Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York signed a bill banning the chemical in all but trace amounts within beauty and personal care products. New York state has started to receive pushback from cleaning companies asking the governor to delay the ban, meaning progress could be slowed, but we hope it’s only a matter of time before other states follow suit. It’s time to clean up the future.

In the meantime, we’re here to help: check back here for more information, updates, and stories, and feel free to reach out to our team with any additional questions.

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