This post may contain affiliate links, which means that if you click on the affiliate link and buy an item, I’ll receive commissions.

1,4-Dioxane In Cosmetics and Personal Care and Cleaning Products


how to avoid 1,4-dioxane in cosmetics and personal care and cleaning productsA lot has been written about 1,4-dioxane in cosmetics and personal care and cleaning products, which is used in a great many products, including shampoos, baby washes, and even toothpaste.  Here is a summary of some of the information related to this toxicant and most importantly how to avoid it.


  • It is not an ingredient so do not look for it on product labels; rather, it is an impurity or a hidden ingredient or an unwanted byproduct.


  • Some manufacturers voluntarily disclose that their products are not contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, but most probably do not.


  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not conduct pre-market safety testing of new products or chemicals. To the FDA, a cosmetics and personal care products manufacturer must provide safety testing paid for by the manufacturer itself.


  • 1,4-dioxane in cosmetics and personal care products is found as a result of ethoxylation, a method used to reduce the risk of skin irritation to harsh petroleum-based ingredients.


  • The ethoxylation process requires the use of the cancer-causing petrochemical Ethylene Oxide, which produces 1,4-dioxane in cosmetics and personal care and cleaning products.


  • Vacuum-stripping method, an inexpensive method, can be used to remove 1,4-dioxane from the final products but a lot of manufacturers fail to do so.


  • 1,4-dioxane is considered a chemical “known to the State of California to cause cancer” under Proposition 65.


  • The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has rated 1,4-dioxane at 8 out 10 (10 being the worst).


  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified 1,4-dioxane as “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”


  • A 2016 report by the Department of Health and Human Services National Toxicology Program (NTP) found that 1,4-dioxane is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity from studies in experimental animals.”


  • 1,4-dioxane is suspected as a kidney toxicant, neurotoxicant, and respiratory toxicant, according to the California EPA.


  • 1,4-dioxane is also a significant groundwater contaminant, according to The Environmental Working Group. Most in-home water filters, including activated carbon filters, don’t remove 1,4-dioxane effectively. Reverse osmosis filters are better, removing a significant portion of the chemical from tap water, yet, fall short.  To read more about water filtration, visit here.


  • The FDA has stated that: “Skin absorption studies demonstrated that 1,4-dioxane readily penetrates animal and human skin from various types of vehicles.”


  • The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has agreed that the presence of 1,4-dioxane, even as a trace contaminant, is cause for concern.


  • The lifetime exposure to small doses of 1,4-dioxane in cosmetics and personal care and cleaning products combined with other carcinogenic toxins may produce synergistic effects, meaning the impact of 1,4-dioxane gets amplified by another carcinogenic toxin.


  • It is nearly impossible to prove that a specific case of cancer was caused by a specific product in the judicial system.


  • According to the 2008 Organic Consumer Association and EWG study, 46% of personal care products and 57 percent of baby soaps are contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, and not much has been done since then.


  • The Organic Consumer Association has conducted an independent test of the presence of 1,4-dioxane in cosmetics and personal care and cleaning products.  The cumulative results for 2007-2010 were formerly located at but the study is no longer available.


What can we do to avoid 1,4-Dioxane In Cosmetics and Personal Care and Cleaning Products


To avoid 1,4-dioxane in cosmetics and personal care and cleaning products, avoid products with ingredients identifiable by the prefix or designations “PEG,” “eth” (such as “myreth,” “oleth,” “laureth,” “ceteareth,” and “polyethylene)” “polyethylene glycol,” “polyoxyethylene,” or “oxynol.” Those ingredients may be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane.


The examples include:


PEG-100 Stearate

PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil


Ceteareth-6 Olivate


Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) (but not Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)


Compiled from the following sources:

Let's start creating a healthy home today!

I read labels for you

When you join the I Read Labels For You community, you'll receive weekly emails with inspiration, exclusive content and coupons to gain clarity and confidence to create a healthy home. Plus, you'll get the FREE guide: "5 Powerful Steps to a Non-Toxic Home You Can Take Today!"

"I find your knowledge so helpful, to the point and like a gold mine. You have saved me so much time and have taught me so much. Toni

Powered by ConvertKit

5 thoughts on “1,4-Dioxane In Cosmetics and Personal Care and Cleaning Products”

  1. Pingback: Molly's Suds Laundry Detergent Review | I Read Labels For You

  2. Hi, I’m interested in whether you have a reference for this statement, “The levels of 1,4-Dioxane in many cosmetics and personal care and cleaning products are 1,000 times higher than those found to cause cancer in laboratory animals.” I’m not doing this to pick on you, I’m just really alarmed by this statement and I’d like to learn more. Thank you!

    1. Hi, Kelly:

      Thank you for pointing this out. I do not see any supporting evidence for that statement anymore so I deleted it. I think that might have been the case in the 1980s. Since then and probably since 2008 tests by Organic Consumer Association (which has been deleted, I wish I had downloaded the pdf), according to the FDA manufacturers have made improvements to their manufacturing processes by using vacuum stripping process. ~Irina

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top

Join our community today for inspiration, exclusive content, and vouchers to create a healthy home.  Plus, you'll learn the top 5 safest shampoos, chosen out of 112.

I hate spam, too!  Your email address will NEVER be shared or sold.