Is Dettol disinfectant spray safe for children_

Carol is a single, very busy mum with 3 kids; she loves to work hard to pay her bills and provide everything she can for her beautiful children.  Her time is managed to the hour and everything has to run like clockwork in order for their lives to run smoothly and keep everyone happy.

When someone gets sick it not only throws everything off kilter, it can have a knock on effect to the extended family, spreading germs to others in the household and to granny and grandad who help her out every week.

More now than ever before, Carol is aware of the need to keep germs at bay to stop the spread of viruses and disease.  Thing is, she is also reading more and more about the negative effect of harmful chemicals on humans, animals and the environment.

Up until now, when someone fell ill in her house she would make sure that windows were open to let in fresh air, mouths were covered when coughing and all surfaces were sprayed daily with Dettol disinfectant spray.

What is Dettol disinfectant spray?

“This amazingly versatile spray can be used on all hard surfaces (such as toilets, bins and sinks), soft surfaces (such as sofas and mattresses), and leaves a fresh fragrance in the air. It helps protect your family from illness by killing 99.9% of bacteria around the home, including E.coli and Salmonella as well as cold & flu viruses.”

Sounds perfect doesn’t it?

And until recently Carol thought so too.  Thing is, after reading about the chemicals found in every day cleaning and disinfecting products, Carol had 3 main concerns:

  • What ingredients are in Dettol disinfectant spray?
  • What effect does disinfectant spray have on my children?
  • Is Dettol disinfectant spray tested on animals?
  • Are there any safe alternatives to Dettol disinfectant spray?

What ingredients are in Dettol disinfectant spray?

Dettol disinfectant spray contains Ethanol

58% of this spray is made up of Ethanol.  Ethanol is a highly flammable substance and is poisonous if ingested.

Ethanol (or spirit alcohol) is found in alcoholic drinks, it is one of the main ingredients that leads to liver failure and heart problems when consumed in excess.

One good use for ethanol is as a fuel additive. When added to gasoline it reduces Carbon Dioxide emissions by 34%**

Dettol disinfectant spray contains Alkyl Dimethyl Benzyl

Also known as Benzalkonium chloride or dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride it is used in many products such eye drops, hand sanitisers, Dettol, spermicidal creams, inhalers and surface disinfectants.

Many products still contain this ingredient despite substantial evidence that it can adversely affect:

  • Ciliary motion - these are the little microscopic hairs that beat in a rhythmic pattern and move liquids over the surface of internal tissues
  • Nasal mucosal histology -The microscopic structure of the nose and throat
  • Human neutrophil function – White blood cells in most mammals
  • Leukocyte responses to local inflammation – Leukocytes help fight infection and play an important role in the body’s immune system.

We wrote about Alkyl Dimethyl Benzyl when Eric asked us “What non-toxic cleaning products are available to clean my dog crate?” You can read about that here

Dettol disinfectant spray contains ammonium

Not to be confused with ammonia, although both are used in a wide range of cleaning products, their compound structure is different.

Ammonia has a very strong smell and has adverse effect on aquatic life

Ammonium has no smell and doesn’t pose a threat to aquatic life

Dettol disinfectant spray contains limonene.

Limonene can be found in cleaning products as a solvent being effective to remove oil from surfaces.  It is also found in cosmetics and personal care products, even as a paint stripper as an alternative to turpentine.

If Limonene comes into contact with skin it may cause irritation however is relatively safe.  It is flammable in liquid form and as a vapour and if disposed of incorrectly, toxic to aquatic life.

Is Dettol disinfectant spray tested on animals?

 Sadly, yes.

Cruelty Free products have been around for a while, I can remember buying my first Rimmel lipstick (Almond Macaroon was the ‘in’ colour in 1990) and back then I can distinctly remember feeling shocked and saddened that companies would subject defenceless animals to painful and cruel procedures just to sell products.

That was in 1990; nearly 30 years ago and I still feel the same. You would think that in 30 years ALL companies, not just beauty and personal care companies would recognise that testing products on animals is cruel.

I have tried to look at this objectively but I can’t find any justifiable reason as to why this practice is still legal!

There are many companies that make and sell products that are cruelty free; they have carried out alternative testing that doesn’t cause a rabbit to go blind or a rat to die of inhalation poisoning – why can’t all companies use these testing methods?

I came across a really interesting article on the Nature Watch website called “The truth behind the dirty dozen household products” if I am totally honest, I feel a little naive that I assumed the majority of companies today did not test on animals – how wrong was I!

You can read this article here

Are there any safe alternatives to Dettol disinfectant spray?

Carol’s main aim is to keep bacteria at bay to stop viruses being spread through her family.  Carol has a few options:

What safe antibacterial cleaners are available?

We recently wrote an article on safe eco-friendly cleaners and tested them on their effectiveness as killing bacteria on a dirty draining board; you can read about that here

Is there a natural alternative for killing bacteria?

 Cleaning products don't always have to be shop bought.

More often than not surfaces can be wiped down with hot soapy water to keep them clean and safe.

Vinegar (malt or white) has been used for 100's of years to kill bacteria.   The acid (acetic acid) in vinegar has been proven to kill bacteria and viruses, by chemically changing the proteins and fats that make up these nasties and destroying their cell structures.

You can read more about the science behind vinegar here and more here

What next

Carol is right to have questions; how do we know that EVERY product on the market today is safe and that the manufacturers have the consumer’s best interests at heart?

We cannot blindly meander through life putting our trust in everything available to buy in the shops, believe everything we watch, read and hear.

Take cigarettes as an example, when you read:

“Smoking is safe!  Here is the proof”

You don’t automatically think

“Ah that’s ok then, I will get some Chesterfields the next time I am at the shop!”

No, you call it out; you challenge it because you know from research, proof and tragic loss of lives that this could not be further from the truth.

We have to approach things with an open mind, research things off our own back and make informed sensible decisions.

There is a guide compiled by Nature Watch called the compassionate shopping guide, it lists products that have been certified as cruelty-free, and do not use any animal testing in their production

At this time we wrote this you could grab a free copy here

Our company and our products are built on an ethos of sustainability, safe disinfection and minimal risk to humans, animals and the world around us.

The issues surrounding the life of our planet are increasing and it is up to us all to make changes to lessen our impact. In the grand scheme of things we are only here for a small fraction of time; while we are here we need to look after the planet we have so that we are passing something great onto future generations.

Making changes in the products we use, the food we eat and how we stay healthy and active can seem like a daunting task.

Where do you start?

Where do you find the time?

Maybe you have you made some changes but don't know what else you can do?

Our ‘Detoxify your life’ project could help you along the way; one email each month with helpful suggestions to detoxify your life one step at a time – interested?

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There are a few links in this article so we have popped them all here for you in case you missed one:

Free Stuff

Free copy of the compassionate shopping guide from Nature Watch

Links to other sources

** Renewable Fuels Association


What Non-toxic cleaners are available to clean my dog crate?

The truth behind the dirty dozen household products

Safe Eco-friendly cleaners

The Science behind vinegar

Does vinegar kill germs?


Smoking is safe, here is the proof!

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