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Lysol Logo.svg
Product typeDisinfectant, all-purpose cleaners
CountryUnited States
Introduced1889; 134 years ago (1889)
Related brandsDettol (Sagrotan)
MarketsUnited States, Canada, Europe, India (as Lizol), Philippines, Mexico and Chile
Previous ownersLehn & Fink (later subsidiary of Sterling Drug)

Lysol (/ˈlsɒl/; spelled Lizol in India[1]) is a brand of American cleaning and disinfecting products distributed by Reckitt, which markets the similar Dettol or Sagrotan in other markets. The line includes liquid solutions for hard and soft surfaces, air treatment, and hand washing. The active ingredient in many Lysol products is benzalkonium chloride, but the active ingredient in the Lysol "Power and Free" line is hydrogen peroxide. Lysol has been used since its invention in the late 19th century as a household and industrial cleaning agent, and previously as a medical disinfectant.


A 1935 Canadian advertisement promoting Lysol as a feminine hygiene product, using the slogan "The poise that knowledge gives"

The first Lysol Brand Antiseptic Disinfectant was introduced in 1889 by Gustav Raupenstrauch to help end a cholera epidemic happening in Germany. The original formulation of Lysol contained cresols.[2] This formulation may still be available commercially in some parts of the world.[3] Formulations containing chlorophenol are still available in the United Kingdom.[4]

In 1911, poisoning by drinking Lysol was the most common means of suicide in Australia and New York.[5] One of the active ingredients, benzalkonium chloride, is highly toxic to fish (LC50 = 280 μg ai/L), very highly toxic to aquatic invertebrates (LC50 = 5.9 μg ai/L), moderately toxic to birds (LD50 = 136 mg/kg-bw), and slightly toxic ("safe") to mammals (LD50 = 430 mg/kg-bw).[6]

Use during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic[edit]

In 1918, during the Spanish flu pandemic, Lehn & Fink, Inc. advertised Lysol disinfectant as an effective countermeasure to the influenza virus. Newspaper advertisements provided tips for preventing the spread of the disease, including washing sick-rooms with Lysol, as well as everything that came in contact with patients. A small (US50¢) bottle made 5 US gallons (19 l; 4.2 imp gal) of disinfectant solution, and a smaller (US25¢) bottle made 2 US gallons (7.6 l; 1.7 imp gal). The company also advertised the "unrefined" Lysol F. & F. (Farm & Factory) for use in factories and other large buildings – a 5-US-gallon (19 l; 4.2 imp gal) can, when diluted as directed, made 50 US gallons (190 l; 42 imp gal) of disinfecting solution.[7]

Use as an abortifacient[edit]

Earlier formulations of Lysol contained cresol, a compound that can induce abortions, and it was widely used by women who could not otherwise obtain legal abortions in the United States, although the medical community was relatively unaware of the phenomenon for the first half of the 20th century.[8][9] By the 1960s, published medical literature had acknowledged the common use of Lysol and other soaps to induce abortions, which could lead to fatal renal failure and sepsis.[10]

Product innovations[edit]

  • 1930: Lysol Brand Disinfectant Liquid was introduced to drug stores and hospitals.
  • 1957/58 Lysol purchased the rights to private label National Laboratories, Inc's Disinfectant spray.
  • 1962: Lysol released the Lysol Disinfectant Spray, which used a new method of aerosol application.
  • 1968: Lysol began creating bathroom cleaners and released the Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaner.
  • 1985: Lysol All Purpose Cleaner was released.
  • 1988: Lysol began shipping aerosol disinfectants to humid areas such as Houston, to combat occupational lung diseases, (also known as "lung rot").[clarification needed]
  • 2000: Pre-moistened Lysol Brand Disinfecting Wipes was released, a cleaning wipe for use on hard, non-porous surfaces.
  • 2009: Lysol began producing hand soaps.

Ownership: Lehn & Fink was acquired by Sterling Drug in 1967 and Reckitt & Colman acquired L&F in 1994 when Bayer acquired Sterling-Winthrop. As of 2015 Lysol products were distributed by Reckitt Benckiser LLC of Parsippany, New Jersey.


Lysol multi-surface cleaner on a store shelf

Different Lysol products contain different active ingredients. Examples of active ingredients used in Lysol products:[citation needed]

SARS-CoV-2 inactivating capability[edit]

According to their website, some of Lysol's products "have been tested by an independent third party and approved by the EPA to kill SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19, on hard, non-porous surfaces."[11]


  • Disinfectants: Lysol Disinfectant products are used to kill surface and air bacteria. Products include:
    • Lysol Disinfectant Spray*: "Alkyl (50% C14, 40% C12, 10% C16) Dimethyl Benzyl Ammonium Saccharinate= 0.10% Ethanol= 58.00%, Other Ingredients= 41.90% (total 100%)"[12]
    • Lysol Disinfecting Wipes
    • Lysol Concentrate Disinfectant
    • Lysol Laundry Disinfectant - contains: didecyl-dimethyl ammonium chloride and dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride - claims effiacy against P. aeruginosa and COVID-19, with 99.99% (one extra "9", compared to most other Lysol products) effectiveness against all viruses and bacteria.
  • Cleaners: Lysol distributes several multi-purpose cleaners, kitchen cleaners, and bathroom cleaners. These include:
    • Lysol Power & Free
    • Lysol All-Purpose Cleaner
    • Lysol Multi-Surface Cleaner Pourable
    • Lysol Power Kitchen Cleaner
    • Lysol Bathroom Cleaner
    • Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaner
    • Lysol Mold & Mildew Remover
  • Hand Soaps: Lysol recently developed a line of disinfecting hand soaps. Products include:
    • Lysol No Touch Hand Soap System
    • Lysol Touch of Foam Hand Wash


Lysol's major competitors include Clorox, Febreze, Tilex, Oust, Mr. Clean and Pine-Sol.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Media Corner." Lyzol India, 20 September 2006. Accessed 13 January 2020.
  3. ^ "Disinfectant, Disinfectants, antiseptics and disinfectants". GMP Chem Tech Pvt. Ltd., India. Retrieved 22 April 2008. "Material Safety Data Sheets (L)". ReSource Colorado (a full service flooring contractor). Retrieved 22 April 2008.
  4. ^ "Material Safety Data Sheet, Lysol(R) Brand Concentrate, Original Scent" (PDF). 18 April 1997. Retrieved 22 April 2008.
  5. ^ "LYSOL POISONING". The Argus. Melbourne (Australia). 10 January 1912. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
  6. ^ Frank T. Sanders, ed. (August 2006). Reregistration Eligibility Decision for Alkyl Dimethyl Benzyl Ammonium Chloride (ADBAC) (PDF) (Report). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances. p. 114. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 October 2009. Retrieved 31 March 2009.
  7. ^ "'Fight Spanish Influenza With Daily Disinfection' (advertisement)". The New York Times. 30 October 1918. p. 9. ProQuest 97039401.
  8. ^ Flanagan, Caitlin (December 2019). "The Dishonesty of the Abortion Debate". The Atlantic. Retrieved 13 January 2020.
  9. ^ Presley, J. A.; Brown, W. E. (September 1956). "Lysol-Induced Criminal Abortion". Obstetrics & Gynecology. 8 (3): 368–370. Retrieved 14 January 2020.
  10. ^ Bartlett, Robert H.; Yahia, Clement (2 October 1969). "Management of Septic Chemical Abortion with Renal Failure: Report of Five Consecutive Cases with Five Survivors". The New England Journal of Medicine. 281 (14): 747–53. doi:10.1056/nejm196910022811401. PMID 5807922.
  11. ^ "Help & Support". Retrieved 12 April 2021.
  12. ^ "Memorandum" (PDF). United States Environmental Protection Agency. 29 September 2010. p. 1. Retrieved 7 April 2020.

External links[edit]