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Gain Laundry Detergent Contains "Probable Human Carcinogen," New Lawsuit Alleges

The plaintiff claims that products are misrepresented as being eco-conscious.

Even though laundry can be a chore, you have to admit, there are few things better than snuggling into fresh sheets or putting on a cozy sweatshirt that's just come out of the dryer. You probably have a trusted detergent brand you rely on to get the job done, which may be something your family used growing up or a new scent you enjoy. But if you regularly turn to Gain products, you'll want to pay attention, as a new lawsuit alleges that the detergent actually contains a "probable human carcinogen." Read on to find out more about these claims.

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Gain products are allegedly "greenwashed."

gain laundry detergent on shelf
dcwcreations / Shutterstock

Darlene Hangen-Hall, of Buffalo, New York, filed a lawsuit against The Procter & Gamble Company, which manufactures Gain detergent, on March 13. In the class action complaint, Hangen-Hall alleges that Gain laundry detergent, specifically Gain Original Aroma Boost, is falsely marketed as being "environmentally-friendly" in order to attract eco-conscious customers—an advertising tactic known as "greenwashing."

Procter & Gamble "manufactures and sells Gain laundry detergent in packaging replete with natural elements, like stylized flowers, leaves, butterflies and 'an intensive use of the color green,'" the lawsuit states.

Hangen-Hall points to research that determined this imagery "evokes positive emotional responses in consumers, and is especially effective when consumers are not particularly knowledgeable and aware of greenwashing methods."

But beyond just appealing to customers who are willing to shell out for sustainable products, Hangen-Hall's lawsuit claims that Gain laundry detergent may also be harmful to your health.

The lawsuit claims the detergent contains a harmful chemical.

woman looking at laundry detergent
Tinatin / Shutterstock

While Gain packaging may send one message, the lawsuit states that the detergent itself contains a dangerous toxin.

Last year, testing performed by Bureau Veritas, a certification company, discovered the presence of 1,4-Dioxane (dioxane) in the detergent. Dioxane is classified as a "probable human carcinogen" by both the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—and it "accumulates in the body over time."

Dioxane is often added to minimize skin irritation caused by other ingredients, such as sodium laureth sulfate, which is listed on the packaging as a "Cleaning Agent." However, despite its known health risks, dioxane isn't listed anywhere on the container, the lawsuit says.

You can be exposed by breathing the toxin in, drinking contaminated water, or absorbing it through your skin. Dioxane exposure has been connected to "tumors of the liver, gallbladder, nasal cavity, lung, skin, and breasts," the lawsuit states.

Hangen-Hall's lawsuit goes on to assert that dioxane ends up in drinking water due to products like Gain Original Aroma Boost, as the water used to launder clothes is then washed down the drain into aquifers that contain groundwater.

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Hangen-Hall is seeking damages and a jury trial.

judge banging gavel
Shutterstock/ESB Professional

Hangen-Hall used Gain detergent in the past, according to the lawsuit, but she wouldn't have purchased the products if she had been aware of the high dioxane levels. Per the lawsuit, the toxin can only be detected by laboratory testing.

Hangen-Hall argues that Procter & Gamble "had a duty to disclose and/or provide non-deceptive descriptions and marketing of the Product." By failing to do so, she believes that the company is guilty of negligent misrepresentation, fraud, and unjust enrichment (meaning they profited from a product that wasn't properly represented).

She further claims Procter & Gamble is in violation of the New York General Business Law, the State Consumer Fraud Acts, and the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, which outlines standards for written warranties. Hangen-Hall is seeking damages for herself and other class members and asking for a jury trial.

Best Life reached out to Procter & Gamble for comment on the lawsuit, and will update this story with their response.

Another brand of detergent was recently under fire.

recalled art of green laundry detergent

While Gain products are still on the shelves, 14,550 bottles of Art of Green laundry detergent were pulled late last year.

On Dec. 12, 2022, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced that AlEn USA LLC recalled bottles of the brand's Free and Clear and Zen Lavender Garden detergent due to potential bacterial contamination. This included Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a microorganism commonly found in soil and water.

The bacteria aren't dangerous to those with otherwise healthy immune systems, but immunocompromised consumers or those with external medical devices can "face a risk of serious infection that may require medical treatment" if exposed, the CPSC said.

Consumers were instructed to stop using the detergent and contact AlEn USA for a full refund. After taking a photo of the universal product code (UPC) and date code, the CPSC recommended throwing the detergent away without emptying it.

Abby Reinhard
Abby Reinhard is a Senior Editor at Best Life, covering daily news and keeping readers up to date on the latest style advice, travel destinations, and Hollywood happenings. Read more
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