Is Gain Laundry Detergent Toxic? Is It Good or Bad? Safety Guide

Gain laundry

Gain Laundry Detergent is the second best-selling laundry detergent in the US, after Tide. It is generally known for its various fragrance options. 

Gain Laundry Detergent is available in a variety of options, like powder, liquid, flings, and fabric softeners. 

You might be wondering how safe it is before your purchase. We’ll be discussing the product varieties in detail in this guide. 

Gain Laundry Detergent is possibly toxic as it contains some chemicals like ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane. These chemicals have some risk of causing genetic defects, cancer, respiratory issues, reproductive toxicity, skin corrosion, pulmonary edema, leukemia, peritoneal cancer, central nervous system impairment, liver damage, skin irritation, and eye corrosion.

But here is the thing – 

Gain Laundry Detergent does not mention the concentrations of these chemicals. The concentration levels are what help us determine the possible toxicity of the product. So, we do not really know how toxic their detergent really is.

Gain Laundry Detergent Ingredients

Here are a few ingredients in Gain’s powder detergent

  • C-10-16 Pareth that’s likely hazardous to your health, and the environment.
  • Sodium Silicate, which is used to create ruggedness in the detergent granules, is known as a strong irritant to the eyes, skin, and mucous membranes.
  • Sodium Polyacrylate is used as a cleaning aid because it has many favorable mechanical properties, and it can absorb 100-1000 times its mass in water. Even though it’s not toxic to humans, it’s considered non-biodegradable, and may cause salinization of soil. This can have adverse effects on the environment.
  • Subtilisin is a protein-digesting enzyme obtained from Bacillus subtilis. It goes inactive in detergents, and acts as a stain cutter. It is safe for usage under certain recommended conditions. It has the potential to cause enzymatic detergent asthma.
  • Fluorescent Brightener 71 is a chemical that acts as a whitening agent. It’s not directly harmful to humans, but it is severely toxic to aquatic life. 
  • Organosilicone Copolymer is used as a defoamer. It has been linked with suppressing the immune systems of bees, and other insects, making them more susceptible to viral infections. 
  • Sodium Sulphate is a very popular chemical in home detergents and 50% of its annual production is used up in the manufacture of detergents.  It is not toxic, but it has the potential to cause temporary asthma or eye irritation. 
  • The fragrances in the detergent give Gain its unique scents like Tropical Sunrise, Orange Blossom Vanilla, and Moonlight Breeze.
  • Water is the base solvent for the detergent, as it dissolves all the minerals above easily. 

Which Ingredients of Gain Laundry Liquid Detergent are harmful? 

Most of the ingredients mentioned above are completely harmless, but a few of them can cause irritation. 

  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate is a chemical used in almost all home products, like grooming, hair, dental care, bath, and skincare products. It acts as a surfactant. 
  • Pentasodium Pentetate is a chelating agent that can accelerate the elimination of metals. It can cause irritation to the skin and eyes under direct contact, and reproductive damage, organ damage after consumption or long-term exposure.
  • A lot of Synthetic Fragrances are mixed with petroleum derivatives. They vaporize into the air, and create Volatile Organic Compounds like terpenes. These can irritate your lungs, and potentially cause asthma. 
  • Calcium formate is usually used as an animal food preservative in the EU, but not for food meant for human consumption. Studies suggest that it irritates the eyes severely.
  • Acid Yellow 23 is a dye that can cause allergic reactions on the skin.

Does Gain Laundry Detergent Have Bleach? 

Bleach is a generic name given to Sodium Hypochlorite that is used to remove the color from fabrics, and clean stains. Its most common form is sodium hypochlorite. 

Gain Laundry Detergent contains Bleach in a specific variant named “Gain Laundry Detergent Ultra With Bleach Alternative Outdoor Sunshine”. 

It is not present in original Gain Liquid Detergents.

Does Gain Laundry Detergent have enzymes?

Yes, Gain Laundry Detergent contains enzymes like Amylase, Subtilisin, and Lipase. 

Enzymes are organic chemicals that can dissolve substances like sugars, proteins, and fats. They are very efficient at cleaning stains and are inactive or ‘dead’ which prevents them from affecting the human body.

Does Gain Laundry Detergent have phthalates? 

No, Gain Laundry Detergent does not contain any phthalates in it. Phthalates are usually used as plasticizers. They act as a surfactant in detergent. 

Studies have shown that phthalates are not acutely toxic, and degrade rapidly, but their use in various industries has concentrated their volume in the atmosphere rapidly, especially in urban areas. 

Long-term exposure to phthalates can cause several medical issues like endocrine disruption, endocannabinoid system disruption, and metabolic interference. 

Phthalates are mainly found in the dust, and air, but they find their way into the human population mainly through diet. Fatty foods like milk, butter, and meat are major sources. 

Does Gain Laundry Detergent have fabric softeners in it?

No, Gain Detergent does not contain any fabric softeners in it. They are sold as separate products to be used after a wash cycle. 

Does Gain Laundry Detergent have chlorine in it?

Chlorine and Bleach are usually used as exchangeable terms, as most forms of chlorine in detergents have got to do something with bleach, or sodium hypochlorite. 

As we mentioned above, it is only found in a specific variety called “Gain Laundry Detergent Ultra With Bleach Alternative Outdoor Sunshine”. 

Does Gain Laundry Detergent have phosphates in it? 

No, Gain Laundry Detergent does not contain any phosphates in it. They were previously used widely as they acted as a chelating agent.

Phosphates have since been banned in the US, and EU as they can find their way into natural water bodies, and cause nutrient pollution, and feed the algae. These can cause many water organisms to die due to a lack of oxygen.

Does Gain Laundry Detergent contain any ammonia in it? 

No, Gain Laundry Detergent does not contain any ammonia in it. It does contain an indirect derivative of ammonia, called C10-16 Alkyldimethylamine Oxide. It does not have any effects of ammonia though.

Ammonia is usually used as a surface cleaner, but its use is not prevalent in detergents. 

Does Gain Laundry Detergent have borax in it?

Yes, Gain Laundry detergent contains borax in it. It is found in the form of Sodium Borate. Borax is used as a water softener in many detergents, and it is not acutely toxic. 

Ingesting borax can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It can also irritate skin, and eyes, or cause rashes, and harm to the male reproductive system after everyday exposure. 

Does Gain Laundry Detergent Contain Methylisothiazolinone in it?

No, Gain Laundry Detergent does not contain any Methylisothiazolinone. It is used for controlling microbial growth in water-containing solutions.

Methylisothiazolinone was previously used in many cosmetic, and home care products, but its use has declined since it has been found to cause allergic reactions like contact dermatitis in humans. 

Does Gain Laundry Detergent have dioxane in it? 

Gain Laundry Detergent may have dioxane in it. It is difficult to say for sure, as it’s usually found under fragrances, and not listed on the ingredients. 

Dioxane is a very dangerous chemical. It is extremely flammable, explosive, causes irritation to the eyes, and the respiratory tract, and is also carcinogenic. 

Is Gain Laundry Detergent Bad for your skin? 

Yes, multiple reports suggest that Gain Laundry Detergent can cause allergic reactions on the skin mainly in the form of rashes.

Many chemicals found in Gain Laundry Detergent can also cause skin irritation, and other issues like contact dermatitis, etc. They most likely occur due to the extreme chemicals used in fragrances. 

Is Gain Laundry Detergent Pregnancy Safe? 

No, Gain Laundry Detergent is not pregnancy safe. As we discussed above, it contains many harmful chemicals that can directly or indirectly cause harm to the reproductive system.

 They may also get absorbed into the body, causing harm to the child as well. 

The most harmful chemicals are usually 1,4-dioxane, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, and fragrances, which can contain many of these chemicals as companies are not required to list all of their harmful chemicals.

Is Gain Laundry Detergent bad for your eyes?

Gain Laundry Detergent contains various chemicals like Pentasodium Pentetate, Calcium Formate, and fragrances that have been classified as severe eye irritants, 

If you happen to get it into your eyes, rinse them with clean water for at least 15 minutes, and visit a doctor if irritation persists.

Is Gain Laundry Detergent safe for septic tanks? 

Yes, Gain Laundry Detergent is safe to use with correctly functioning septic tanks.

Surfactants are the biggest cause of problems related to septic tanks. Some surfactants that are obtained from petroleum, and various chemical methods can damage the natural microbial ecosystem of your septic tank, causing it to overflow or clog up.

The other alternative is to use surfactants that are produced naturally, and are biodegradable. They produce fewer suds, and foam as compared to natural surfactants, thereby reducing the time they remain in your septic tanks. 

Gain Laundry Detergent uses Sodium Laureth Sulfate is a surfactant that is obtained from palm kernel oil or coconut oil and is hence not a risk to septic systems.

Is Gain Laundry Detergent Safe for washers?

Yes, Gain Laundry Detergent is safe for washers. It is formulated for HE washing machines. 

HE washing machines are high-efficiency machines designed to use less water compared to a standard washing machine.  

They require the use of HE-safe detergents, as regular detergents can cause too many suds in the washing drum. 

Regular detergents also don’t get rinsed completely in HE washing machines and may cause electrical damage, and promote the growth of mold and odor in the machine. 

Is Gain Laundry Detergent bad for the environment? 

Yes, Gain Laundry Detergent is bad for the environment. It contains various chemicals like 1,4-dioxane, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, fragrances, and Alkylbenzene Sulfonate that leach into the groundwater, and contaminate municipal water drinking supplies and be toxic to aquatic life.

There is also a concern about microplastics in the environment, which can get absorbed into your body through the air, water, and food you eat.

Can you use Gain Laundry Detergent with eczema?

No, it is not recommended to use Gain Laundry Detergent with eczema or any other skin condition. The chemicals in this deterrent are severe irritants, and they seep into your skin through cracks in your skin, causing severe irritation.

Is Gain Laundry Detergent safe for babies? 

It is not recommended to use Gain Laundry Detergent for baby clothes, because baby skin tends to be very sensitive, and the extreme chemicals mentioned above can cause irritation, and rashes to babies easily. 

Most of these chemicals are found in fragrances, and some people might face adverse effects while other groups remain unaffected.

The Bottom Line

Gain Laundry Detergent has the potential to cause issues ranging from mild irritation to cancer due to the presence of chemicals like 1,4 dioxane, Sodium Laureth Sulphate, and Alkylbenzenesulfonate, 

It is possible that these chemicals are not present in harmful quantities, but there’s no surety about that as the concentration of these chemicals is not mentioned by the manufacturers. 

Most of the issues related to the product stem from accidental exposure which could cause irritation. It’s probably not a good idea to have it in your home if you have kids or pets.

A better alternative would be a biodegradable detergent made from mostly organic chemicals that degrade easily and don’t remain in the natural ecosystem.

We hope we were able to answer your queries in this guide.


Anand Srinivasan
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