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Lysol (/ˈlsɒl/ LY-sol) is a brand name of cleaning and disinfecting products distributed by the Reckitt Benckiser company. 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. Some of the scents from Lysol include "Crisp Linen", "Floral", "Fruit & Citrus", "Gourmand", and "Fresh". It is marketed with the spelling 'Lizol' in India.[1]

Lysol Logo.svg
Product typeDisinfectant, all-purpose cleaners
OwnerReckitt Benckiser
Introduced1889; 130 years ago (1889)
Previous ownersLehn & Fink (later subsidiary of Sterling Drug)


Lysol product family line.
A 1935 advertisement from Canada 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 Dr. Gustav Raupenstrauch to help end a cholera epidemic 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]

Used in the 1918 Spanish fluEdit

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]

As a "feminine hygiene" productEdit

In the late 1920s Lysol disinfectant began being marketed as a "feminine hygiene" product by maker Lysol, Incorporated and distributor Lehn & Fink, Inc. It was claimed vaginal douching with a diluted Lysol solution prevented infections and vaginal odor, and thereby preserved youth and marital bliss.[8] 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.[9] 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.[10] All the same, Joseph De Lee, a prominent American obstetrician who held great sway over American obstetric practice through his writings, encouraged the use of Lysol during labor. He writes in 1938, "...[J]ust before introducing the hand, the vagina is liberally flushed with 1 per cent lysol solution squeezed from pledgets of cotton, the idea being to reduce the amount of infectious matter unavoidably carried into the puerperal wounds and up into the uterus by the manipulations."[11]

The Smithsonian Institution in 2013 included the Lysol feminine hygiene ads among others which were "hilarious and shocking" in hindsight.[12]

Product innovationsEdit

  • 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 "lung rot".
  • 2000: Lysol introduced Lysol Disinfecting Wipes, pre-moistened cleaning wipes 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]


  • Disinfectants: Lysol Disinfectant products are used to kill surface and air bacteria. Products include:
    • Lysol Disinfectant Spray
    • Lysol Disinfecting Wipes
    • Lysol Concentrate Disinfectant
  • 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, Oust, Mr. Clean, Cif, Pine-Sol, OxiClean, Simple Green, Domestos and Tilex.


  1. ^
  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". Melbourne (Australia) Argus (newspaper). 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. Contrary to what the logo states Lysol, is not actually the #1 recommended brand by Canadian pediatricians. More information can be found on p. 114. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 October 2009. Retrieved 31 March 2009. External link in |publisher= (help)
  7. ^ "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)
  8. ^ "Lysol Douche Advertisements". Retrieved 19 July 2016.
  9. ^ "MSU Libraries /All Locations". Retrieved 19 July 2016.
  10. ^ Finley, Harry. "Lysol douche ad, 1928, U.S.A.". The Museum of Menstruation and Women's Health, 1998. (Accessed 22 March 2007),
  11. ^ De Lee, Joseph B., A.M., M.D. The Principles and Practice of Obstetrics. 7th ed. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders Company, 1938. p319
  12. ^ Eveleth, Rose (30 September 2013). "Lysol's Vintage Ads Subtly Pushed Women to Use Its Disinfectant as Birth Control". Retrieved 2 February 2015.

External linksEdit