Hidden Chemicals: Sodium Laureth Sulfate

If It Suds, Is It Clean?

Sodium laureth sulfate (also referred to as SLES) is widely used as a detergent and sudsing agent.  Depending on the manufacturing process, sodium laureate sulphate may be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane (1).   


  • shampoo
  • shower gel
  • soap
  • facial cleanser
  • household cleaning products, like dish soap


SLS, SLES, Sodium laureth sulfate, sodium laurel sulfate.


Cancer:  research shows that 1,4-dioxane penetrates the skin (2).  1,4-dioxane is considered a probable human carcinogen (3).  

Read More

  1. BHA
  2. Coal Tar Dyes
  3. DEA
  4. Dibutyl Phthalate
  5. Formaldehyde
  6. Parabens
  7. Parfum
  8. PEG Compounds
  9. Petrolatum
  10. Siloxanes
  11. Sodium Laureth Sulfate
  12. Triclosan


  1. Black RE, Hurley FJ, and Havery DC. “Occurrence of 1,4-dioxane in cosmetic raw materials and finished cosmetic products.” Int J PharJ AOAC Int. 84, 3 (May-Jun 2001):666-70
  2. 2. Spath, D.P.  “1,4-Dioxane Action Level.”  March 24, 1998.  Memorandum from Spath, Chief of the Division of Drinking Water and Environmental Management, Department of Health Services, 601 North 7th Street, Sacramento, California 95814 to George Alexeeff, Deputy Director for Scientific Affairs, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.  Viewed at:  http://www.oehha.ca.gov/water/pals/pdf/PAL14DIOXAN.pdf
  3. 3. Environmental Protection Agency (2003). 1,4 Dioxane (CASRN 123-91-1). Integrated Risk Information System. Available at http://www.epa.gov/NCEA/iris/subst/0326.htm. Accessed August 19, 2008.