Is Listerine Gluten Free?


I’ve been using Listerine mouthwash on and off for years now. I remember checking what was probably a couple of years ago now that the variety I was using was gluten free and safe for me to use but since it had been a while I decided it would be a good idea to double check again just to be on the safe side. I was also in the UK then whereas I’m in the US now. Manufacturing processes can differ from country to country.

I emailed Listerine last week to ask about it’s gluten free status and this is the email response I received.

Thank you for contacting McNEIL-PPC, Inc., makers of COOL MINT® LISTERINE® Antiseptic Mouthwash.  It is always important to hear from our consumers, and we appreciate the time you have taken to contact us.

We do not specifically test for the presence of gluten in our products; therefore, we cannot certify them to be gluten free.  While I can tell you that there are no gluten-containing grains in this product, I cannot guarantee that cross-contamination with gluten did not occur in the manufacturing process.

So basically what they are saying is that they cannot be bothered figuring out whether or not cross contamination during the manufacturing process is a possibility and so have given me the generic ‘we cannot guarantee’ response. Not very helpful. If they had said that whilst there are no gluten containing grains in the product, it’s made on shared equipment or in the same factory as gluten containing grains then I could make an informed decision on whether or not to continue using it. This response however makes it sound like they really have no idea how or where the product was made, doesn’t it?

I’ve never had any problems with Listerine or had symptoms develop from using it. But can I really continue to use it? How can I be sure Listerine is safe if the manufacturers can’t even be sure themselves?

This issue of possible cross contamination in manufacturing goes far beyond Listerine or even mouthwash but for now I’m focusing on this product. Any thoughts? Do you use Listerine? Would you? Does this email response provide you with confidence that Listerine is safe for celiacs? Do you use another mouthwash which is manufactured by someone appears to have better knowledge of  how or where it was made? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below…

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  • It’s funny, I feel this way about all products that I get these ambiguous emails from. I thought I was so safe, but emails like this make me question everything. Does Celiac go hand-in-hand with paranoia? I think it does – at least for me! I wish they could just give a straight-forward answer. They’d win us all over!

  • It’s only paranoia if the gluten isn’t after us! 😀 Unfortunately most companies don’t help our anxiety when they don’t provide us with straight forward responses to our questions.

  • They obviously have not bothered to check into possible allergens. How ridiculous is that?? If it’s something that goes into the mouth I would think they would want to know and disclose that information.

  • I feel you on this one. I got a similar response when I talked to the drug company that makes a generic equivalent of Ambien called Zolpidem. After that I decided to not take it any more. If they cannot tell me anything about the production then how can I trust? I agree, celiac definitely has great great potential for increasing paranoia and with good reason! We’re always on guard and live with so much uncertainty. We need a lot of mind-body health practices to stay centered and grounded.

  • Melissa

    Jun 19th, 2012

    It is funny that you would post this question today. I have successfully used Listerine before, but just in the past week or two, I have had mild gluten reactions three times consistently following the use of one particular bottle of Listerine. I don’t think I will buy Listerine again. I bought some Scope today. Does anyone have any information on Scope?

  • I use the purple listerine every night and asside from having nice clean teeth I have never had a glutinated reaction what so ever, so would definitely recommend!

  • Interesting how some folks have reactions and others don’t. I guess that’s to be expected.

    I just wish more than anything that companies like this would provide consumers with information to allow us to make informed decisions on what’s safe. Sigh.

  • Kirstin

    Jun 20th, 2012

    Very good post. Yes, they do sound clueless about how their product is manufactured – and like they don’t really care that we need to know. Just a follow up from my conversation with you on your facebook page, Laura. I have pretty much narrowed my glutened reaction (not mild and like the old days when i ate gluten for a living – ha ha) and i’m quite sure it was the Listerine, unfortuntely. i agree with the paranoia comments for sure. that’s why i can say i’m 90% sure it was the Listerine or this or that but it’s so hard to be absolutely sure. That’s why i end up having to throw expensive food and products away after barely using them (or giving them away), like this one. It’s so exasperating.

  • I think my fear would always be that even if I had used the product in the past without incident if they are not taking care of manufacturing proccesses that it might be fine and at another time not so fine and I would end up getting sick and spending weeks trying to figure out what was making me sick.

  • Hi I’m in UK
    Never really got on with mouthwash. Im in my forties and only worked out I was coeliac last year. This summer I had a brace fitted and my orthodontist recommends use of mouthwash and even gave me a bottle of Colgate alcohol free. But after just a few uses I feel glutened. Stop using it and symptoms cleared. Started using it again and abdomonal discomfort returns. there must be some occult ingredient, not the alcohol?

  • I think they should make it mandatory labeling of Gluten free on any product. In my opinion, I would rather be allergic to wheat and ingest it then to have celiac disease.

  • This generic answer protects them from potential law suits. It also leaves it to their discretion to add gluten to their product at any time in the future, should they wish.

  • jessica

    Apr 14th, 2013

    but mouthwash is not swallowed so why should it matter?

  • Has anyone found a gluten free mouthwash in the UK?

    Hi Jessica, coeliac is an auto immune disorder. It is not actually the gluten doing the damage, it is your own body’s reaction to it. So a small amount swallowed or absorbed through the mouth could trigger a reaction, the immune system is very complex and varies from person to person.

  • Kirstin

    Jul 15th, 2013

    I have been using Tom’s of Maine for a while now and don’t feel that it affects me. I think I must have googled that before I would have taken the chance after my extreme reaction to Listerine, but I would encourage anyone who wants to try it to do their own research, especially since that company was bought out recently by a big corporation and may have changed their practices.

  • Peter Edwards

    Feb 20th, 2016

    It is interesting that you state about whether a product contains gluten or not. How can a manufacturer state that a product may be cross contaminated, common sense would state that if you use the same production line for different products then it would not be safe, especially where one of them has used gluten containing ingredients.

    No wonder people that have life threating illness get so confused. That is as bad as putting a gluten-free product on the same shelf as one that does contain gluten, and stating that it is free from.

  • Eustace

    Mar 3rd, 2016

    I love nuts! I eat lots of pecan whenever I can get them. However of late whenever I eat them I get bowel problems.
    Has anyone had a similar experience? Perhaps it’s cross contamination? I don’t know 😞. Would hate to have to give up pecans. The particular ones that I have are from Kirkland (bought in Canad).