Reduction of 1,4-dioxane in household cleaning products

New York regulators require consumer brands to begin limiting the amount of 1,4-dioxane in personal care and cleaning products (S.4389). For any household cleaning product distributed or sold in New York State, the level of 1,4-dioxane cannot exceed 2 parts per million (ppm) by December 31, 2022. This requirement is further reduced for not to exceed 1 ppm by December 31, 2023.

What is 1,4-dioxane and how does it affect consumer products?

Commonly found in cleaning products such as dish soaps and laundry detergents, 1,4-dioxane is a by-product created during the manufacture of ethoxylated chemicals.

1,4-dioxane is of concern to human and environmental health due to its status as a known or suspected carcinogen by a number of authoritative bodies, including California’s Proposition 65 list, the National Toxicology Program, the US Environmental Protection Agency and New York’s Environmental Protection Agency. Regulation S.4380. As a result, the sale of household cleaning and personal care products containing 1,4-dioxane will be extremely limited and regulated.

Although most personal care and cleaning products contain less than 5 ppm, this is above the New York S.4380 requirement of 1 ppm. Manufacturers must take steps to ensure their products meet the new standards before the regulatory deadlines of 2022 and 2023.

Reformulate cleaning products with natural and sustainable ingredients

Our scientific experts have developed several clean, compliant product formulation alternatives to help meet 1-4-dioxane requirements and market changes.

Considering the need to reformulate to comply with 1-4-dioxane legislation, current producers of cleaning products will need to review the use levels of ethoxylated surfactants in their formulations as well as the levels of 1,4-dioxane in the specific qualities of surfactants they purchase. .

At Univar Solutions, we can help you work with our vendor partners to provide this information. If this exercise determines that a product needs to be reformulated, reformulation strategies include lowering the level or replacing the ethoxylated surfactant with another type of surfactant. However, it can be difficult to achieve the same performance at the same total surfactant level due to the efficiency and effectiveness of ethoxylated surfactants. New solutions to consider include new grades of ethoxylated surfactants with lower residual 1,4-dioxane levels, some of which are produced from naturally occurring ethylene oxide. Another approach to lowering overall surfactant levels, including ethoxylated surfactants, is to introduce high performing enzymes into formulations.

Surfactants to consider for 1,4-dioxane concentrations


• Ether sulfates
• Ammonium Lauryl Ether Sulfates (ALES)
• Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfates (SLES)

• Alkoxylates

• Alcohol ethoxylates
• Alkylphenol ethoxylates (APE)
• Polysorbates
• Block copolymers
• Phosphate Esters

Start with the Consciously Clean Formulation Kit

Univar Solutions’ Conscientiously Clean formulation kit, a set of lab-tested and quality-approved starter formulations developed by Univar Solutions’ Home and Industrial Cleaning Solutions Center in North America.

These cleaning formulas highlight several key ingredients and formulation techniques to help you comply with 1-4-dioxane regulations. Applicable to a variety of cleaning products, the Conscientiously Clean Kit includes all-purpose cleaner, shower/tub/tile cleaner, mid-level hand dish soap, and 3x liquid laundry detergent formula.

It can be difficult to keep up to date with new regulations and know which materials to select when reformulating products to comply. Chemists and specialists developing engineered solutions in our formulation labs can provide the materials and guidance needed to help you meet the challenges of New York’s S.4389 regulations to reduce 1,4-dioxane levels.

Whether you want to improve existing products or identify new and improved formulations, we are ready to help you achieve your product performance goals.

About the Author

Allison Hunter is Technical Services Manager, Global Solution Centers, Univar Solutions. To learn more about formulating cleaning formulations without 1,-4-dioxane, click here. More information: [email protected]

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