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Lysol (cleaner)

Principally sold in the Americas and Asia, Lysol is a brand name for a line of disinfectant household cleaners produced by Reckitt Benckiser. This line includes products for all-purpose cleaning and for more specific purposes, including food surface sanitation, bathroom surface disinfection and odor removal, and air sanitation. They are sold as aerosol sprays, non-aerosol sprays, pre-saturated disposable wipes and brushes, and concentrated liquids. The aerosols come in many fragrances, the most popular being original scent and fresh linens. The most popular scent in the all-purpose cleaner is lemon.

The name Lysol comes from a combination of the words "lysosome" and "solvent". The former comes from the name given to the cell organelle that produce digestive enzymes, the latter from the label given to liquids that rapidly dissolve solids, gasses or other liquids.

The active ingredient in many of the Lysol products is benzalkonium chloride.



In 1918, during the Spanish flu pandemic, Lehn & Fink, Inc. advertised Lysol disinfectant as an effective countermeasure to the influenza virus. Newspaper ads provided tips for preventing the spread of the disease, including washing sick-rooms and everything that came in contact with patients with Lysol. A small (US50¢) bottle made five gallons (19 litres) of disinfectant solution, and a smaller (US25¢) bottle 2 gallons (7.5 litres). The company also advertised the "unrefined" Lysol F. & F. (Farm & Factory) for use in factories and other large buildings — a 5-gallon (19 litre) can, when diluted as directed, made 50 gallons of disinfecting solution.

In the late 1920s Lysol disinfectant began being marketed by maker Lysol, Incorporated and distributor Lehn & Fink, Inc. as a feminine hygiene product. They intimated that vaginal douching with a Lysol solution prevented infections and vaginal odor, and thereby preserved marital bliss. This Lysol solution was also used as a birth control agent, as post-coital douching was a popular method of preventing pregnancy at that time. The use of Lysol was later discouraged by the medical community as it tended to eliminate the bacteria normal to the healthy vagina, thus allowing more robust, health-threatening bacteria to thrive, and may have masked more serious problems that certain odors indicated in the first place.

In the US, from around 1930 to 1960, vaginal douching with a Lysol disinfectant solution was the most popular form of birth control. US marketing ads printed testimonials from European "doctors" touting its safety and effectiveness. The American Medical Association later investigated these claims. They were unable to locate the cited "experts" and found that Lysol was not effective as a contraceptive.


Active Ingredients Ethanol/SD Alcohol 40 1-3% Isopropyl alcohol 1-2% p-Chloro-o-benzylphenol 5-6% Potassium hydroxide 3-4% Alkyl (C12-C18) dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride 0.08% Alkyl(C12-16)dimethylbenzylammonium chloride 0.02%

Ethanol/SD Alcohol - Highly flammable fluid that acts as sanitizer.

Isopropyl alcohol - Partly responsible for Lysol's strong odor. Acts as sanitizing agent, and odor remover.


  • Poisoning by this chemical is possible by absorption, inhalation, or ingestion in large quantities. It has been speculated that this chemical may be carcinogenic, though results are currently under debate. Practice standard safety measures when dealing with this product. Limit exposure by inhalation, ingestion, or absorption. Household versions of this chemical, however, are often diluted and the risk is far lower than with concentrates, but it can still pose a danger if used improperly. Use only in a well ventilated area in accordance with the directions. If poisoning has occurred, contact your local poison control office and seek immediate medical attention. This chemical should not replace the use of soap and water and some bacterial resistance may occur with over-use of this product.
  • Versions of some chemicals related to this product were once used as antiseptics, etc., on humans, however, this is no longer considered safe. Do not clean wounds with this product as it is poisonous.

Other uses

  • Some alcoholics have been reported to use Lysol as a beverage owing to its alcohol content. In some jurisdictions laws have been passed prohibiting the sale of this and similar products to a person whom the seller believes is likely to use the product as a beverage. [1]


  • Lysol Web page (accessed 26 August 2007)
  • DeNoon, Daniel. "Birth Control Timeline". Web MD. 4 May 2004. (Accessed 22 March 2007)
  • "Fight Spanish Influenza With Daily Disinfection" (advertisement). The New York Times. 30 October 1918, p. 9. (Accessed via ProQuest, New York Times (1857-Current file), Document ID 97039401)
  • Finley, Harry. "Lysol douche ad, 1928, U.S.A.". The Museum of Menstruation and Women's Health, 1998. (Accessed 22 March 2007)
  • Finley, Harry. "Lysol ad from March 1948". The Museum of Menstruation and Women's Health,
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Lysol_(cleaner)". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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