Proctor & Gamble markets Tide Free and Gentle laundry detergent to moms as a safer choice for their children's laundry. However, as reported here by the New York Times, testing by the environmental group Women's Voices for the Earth found problematic levels of 1,4 dioxane in Tide Free and Gentle. 1,4 dioxane is a solvent most commonly found in products that create suds, such as detergent, shampoo, and liquid soaps. It is a contaminant created during manufacturing, as the result of a process in which harsh and irritating ingredients are converted into less-harsh chemicals. Because it is a contaminant, you will not find it listed on any product label. The EPA considers 1,4 dioxane a probable human carcinogen.
It is possible to remove 1,4 dioxane from products, or manufacturers could simply forgo the process that creates it by using purer, less-harsh ingredients to begin with. However, Proctor & Gamble, has no plans to reformulate Tide Free and Gentle to remove this dangerous chemical.
A 2010 study by the Organic Consumers Association found 1,4 dioxane in nearly two-thirds of the laundry detergents sold in America. Only a few brands were found to be free of the chemical. Those brands included Seventh Generation Free and Clear (which I use and can highly recommend), as well as ECOS Free & Clear by Earth Friendly Products.