Is 9 Elements Laundry Detergent Safe Or Harmful? Explained

9 Elements laundry detergent

Need a laundry detergent that is clean, effective, and non-toxic? Mothers always need products that get the job done and keep their babies and family safe. Is the 9 Elements laundry detergent family safe, eco-friendly, and harmless?

This review will assess 9 Elements Laundry Detergent to understand whether it will meet your needs. 

9 Elements Laundry Detergent ingredients 

These are the main ingredients in 9 Elements laundry detergent

  • Water
  • Citric Acid  
  • C12-16 Pareth
  • Sodium C10-16 Alkyl benzenesulfonate
  • Propylene Glycol 
  • Sodium Citrate 
  • Vinegar 
  • Fragrances 


Water is the solvent used in 9 Elements laundry detergent. It is preferred because it can dissolve a fairly large number of chemicals/ingredients. It is benign i.e. it doesn’t react with other chemicals. So it keeps the liquid stable. 

Citric Acid 

Citric acid removes stains and grease from your clothing. In effect, it is a natural alternative to bleach. It functions as a whitener in addition to a cleaner. It also balances the pH of the liquid. 

It balances the alkalinity of the detergent because it is an acidic compound. It removes hard water stains which are caused by magnesium, calcium, etc. As a bonus, it also helps in removing lime-scale deposits in your washing machine. 

These deposits are also because of hard water which chemicals that pile up on the clothes and in the machine.

C12-16 Pareth

This is a plant-based compound made of fatty alcohols and polyethylene glycol (PEG). It balances the thickness of the liquid i.e. the viscosity. It is also a surfactant and aids in the easy application of the liquid. 

It also acts as an emulsifier by removing the grease, stains, and grime from the fabric. The dirt is then dissolved in the liquid and removed.

Sodium C10-16 Alkyl benzenesulfonate

This is a sodium salt of benzene-sulfonic acid. It is also a surfactant and a synthetic compound. It breaks down the bonds between the grim/grease and the fabrics and aids in the dissolving process. 

It is especially useful for tough stains or dirt that do not wash off easily. It is also a much better variation of surfactant because it is very effective in hard water, although it is soluble in soft water as well.

And given that about 85% of American households have hard water in their bathrooms, this function comes in handy. 

Propylene Glycol 

Propylene Glycol is added as an additional solvent. This is because it is an emulsifier. It allows the grease and grime which may have insoluble components to be removed. It helps in the solubility of the dirt. 

It also keeps the detergent chemically stable as it is an enzyme stabilizer. It prevents the chemicals from interacting and separating within the liquid. It is also derived from natural sources.

Sodium Citrate 

Sodium Citrate acts as a ‘sequestrant’ or ‘builder’. This means that it separates chemicals like calcium, iron, and magnesium in hard water. So it acts as a water softener. Soft water uses less detergent more effectively and efficiently. 

It is an acidic, natural cleaning aid that is environmentally safe. The acidic nature of the compound breaks down stains, grease, and other stubborn residues. So it actually enhances the detergent’s function. It’s more bang for your buck! 


9 Elements is a ‘vinegar-powered’ laundry detergent. Vinegar has multiple functions such as bleaching, stain removal, and fabric softening. It not only whitens your clothes and removes grease, but it also eliminates foul odors. 

It actually neutralizes any stenches that linger on the clothing and give a mild, neutral smell. It is also 100% natural and environment-friendly. Also, because its base is acetic acid, bacteria, mold, and germs cannot grow or thrive. 

So it is also a reasonably efficient disinfectant. 


All the fragrances used in 9 Elements laundry detergent are plant-based and naturally derived. These include fragrances derived from citrus e.g. limonene, citral, and citrus peel oil. There are also fragrances derived from rosemary oil to give a eucalyptus scent.

Is 9 Elements laundry detergent septic safe? 

Yes, 9 Elements laundry detergent is septic safe to a large extent. It does not contain phosphates, chlorine bleach, or preservatives like MCI/MI. These are the main culprits in septic tank damage. 

This is because these ingredients kill the necessary bacteria in septic tanks that help turn waste into sludge that can be disposed of easily. 9 Elements laundry detergent is 95% plant-based. 

They also have a 95% USDA Biobased certification. Biodegradable ingredients do not damage septic tanks or their function. Since most functions like bleaching, surfactants, etc. are achieved with naturally derived ingredients, 9 Elements is quite safe for your septic tanks. 

Is 9 Elements laundry detergent safe for babies?

No, 9 Elements laundry detergent is not baby-safe. It has been dermatologically tested to be gentle on sensitive skin. It also does not contain the usual skin irritants such as MCI/MI preservatives, dyes, parabens, etc. 

These form the main hazards in terms of redness, itching, rashes, with more severe consequences for babies’ delicate skin. But despite the fact that it doesn’t contain these harmful ingredients, don’t assume it is perfectly safe for your baby. 

The 9 Elements laundry detergent contains irritants like Sodium C10-16 Alkyl benzenesulfonate which is a synthetic surfactant. And even though the fragrances in it are natural, they are still enough to cause allergies and reactions in infants. 

These could be in the form of skin or respiratory problems. Propylene glycol may be natural, but it can still also be toxic for babies with repeated exposure. 

Is 9 Elements laundry detergent safe for High Efficiency (HE) washing machines? 

Yes. The 9 Elements laundry detergent can be used in all types of washing machines, including High-Efficiency machines. It does not create too much soap suds or froth that could build up into suds-deposits and clog up the machine.

The 9 Elements detergent is also better for the environment. It uses less water and energy but cleans just as thoroughly. It can also be used with cold water so that the energy consumption of doing laundry is further reduced.

Is 9 Elements laundry detergent cruelty-free? 

Not completely. While the majority of 9 Elements laundry detergent ingredients are plant-based and have received USDA certification, some ingredients are synthetic. There could be animal testing involved by third-party vendors or suppliers of these ingredients. 

In addition, the parent company of 9 Elements, namely Proctor and Gamble has eliminated 99% of their animal testing on products. But 1% testing still remains. 9 Elements has received the Safer Choice label from the FDA which means that they use eco-friendly ingredients. 

But this does not automatically mean that all the ingredients are cruelty-free; some of them may have been tested on animals during manufacturing. 

But it is likely that 9 Elements is largely cruelty-free because the owners started the brand as an eco-friendly option. This may mean that they have avoided animal testing completely. But there is no concrete evidence, either way, to determine whether they are 100% cruelty-free or not. 

Is 9 Elements laundry detergent non-toxic? 

No, the laundry detergent from 9 Elements is not 100% non-toxic. It is much safer than other commercial detergents which have ingredients like bleach, phosphates, and MCI/MI preservatives.

But despite this 9 Elements detergent does cause some toxicity. The fatty alcohols used in C12-16 Pareth are much better than pure alcohols such as ethanol, which can be very harmful. But there is still a cause for moderate concern. Fatty alcohols like 1,4-dioxane can cause skin irritation, allergies, breathing problems, etc.

With sustained use, it may affect organs in your reproductive system or your kidneys. There are also fears of some components of C12-16 Pareth being potentially carcinogenic. But there is no definitive evidence for this.

But at the concentration in which it is used, this laundry detergent shouldn’t cause toxicity. Unless it is ingested/inhaled or high amounts are used for a prolonged period of time. 

The same applies to the fragrances, vinegar, and propylene glycol that are used. At small concentrations that abide by regulations, they should not cause toxicity. But they can cause some reactions on the skin and in respiration. With sustained use, it may affect organ functioning. 

As long as the concentration of these ingredients is maintained at a safe level, these toxic effects can be avoided.

Is 9 Elements laundry detergent vegan? 

No. Although 9 Elements laundry detergent is made of 95% naturally derived, it is not completely vegan. While the synthetic material may not be derived from animals, there is no guarantee whether they have been tested or animals or not. 

If any third-party vendor or supplier has tested the ingredient on animals, then the product as a whole is not vegan. For example, glycol or alkylbenzene sulfonates may not be derived from animals, but they may have been tested on them by the producers. 

The reason it is eco-friendly but not vegan is also that the parent company P&G still tests on animals for about 1% of their products. So in spite of the Safer Choice label of 9 Elements, the people they purchase from or the processing of their products can violate vegan standards. 

Is there bleach in 9 Elements laundry detergent?

No. 9 Elements laundry detergent does not contain chlorine-based bleach. Instead, it uses natural alternatives like vinegar, sodium citrate, and citric acid. The detergent should not be used with bleach because it contains vinegar.

The vinegar reacts with the bleach and creates noxious chlorine fumes. Even though it is not as fast-working as bleach, it is natural and environment friendly. It does not contain harsh chemicals which can affect your health either, unlike bleach. 

Are there PFAs in 9 Elements laundry detergent?

There are more than 4700 poly-fluoroalkyl-based chemicals in all sorts of products. The main PFAs are perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). These PFAs are NOT found in the 9 Elements laundry detergent. 

They have been phased out since the year 2000 in the United States. But the presence of other PFA compounds cannot be determined, because there are thousands of them. These might form part of other compounds also. 

9 Elements has no per-fluoro/chloro-fluoro-carboxylic or sulfonic acid compounds as an active ingredient.

Does 9 Elements contain animal fat?

No. Most of the 9 Elements composition is made from plant-based ingredients. Only 5% is synthetic or artificially derived. Even among these, there is no animal fat that is used in the manufacturing of the detergent.

Having said this, it cannot be determined if the manufacturing or processing of ingredients involved animal fat. It could be that facilities with trace amounts of animal fat were used for its production. Perhaps suppliers of some ingredients may have used it. 

But otherwise, 9 Elements does not contain the fat of animals as an active ingredient. 

Does 9 Elements contain chemicals? 


No, 9 Elements does not contain any form of borax such as sodium borate, sodium tetraborate, or any form of boric acid either. It is commonly added to laundry detergent to boost its effect, but 9 Elements does not make use of it. 


Fluoride is not an ingredient in 9 Elements in any form including, in the fluorinated form of PFOS or PFAS. 


Yes. Benzene compounds are present in 9 Elements detergent in the form of sodium alkyl benzene-sulfonate. This compound is not environmentally friendly because it causes mild aquatic toxicity. 

Despite being biodegradable it breaks down slowly and affects marine ecology. 


No, 9 Elements does not contain sulfates. It does contain sulfonate in the form of sodium alkyl benzene-sulfonate. A sulfonate is different from sulfate in that it is derived from a different acid. They are made from sulfonic and sulfuric acid respectively.


Yes, 9 Elements does contain fatty alcohols or alcohol ethoxylates such as ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane. Both of these alcohols may cause some health problems. 

It could range from minor problems like skin damage to more serious impacts on organs if used continuously.


Yes. This detergent is bio-based and comprises majorly naturally derived components. So there are many enzymes functioning in the detergent. This is why propylene glycol is added so that the enzymes don’t react and the detergent stays chemically stable. 


Oxi-clean consists mainly of sodium carbonate or sodium carbonate peroxide. This is not found in 9 Elements laundry detergent. For one, it is a separate cleaning product and brand. Secondly, its ingredients are not the same as 9 Elements.

We hope this review has helped you to determine whether 9 Elements detergent meets your and your family’s laundry requirements.

Anand Srinivasan
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