Jeyes fluid has been around for over 140 years. It was patented in 1877 and given a Royal Warrant in 1896 so it would be fair to say that it is a well-established household name in the UK for garden and outdoor disinfectant.
It is the first choice for a large percentage of gardeners and growers and is recommended by the manufacturers for a large number of outdoor jobs such as:
- Deodorise drains
- Clean water butts
- Disinfect patios
- Clean wheelie bins
- Clean greenhouses
- Clear paths
- Disinfect animal housing
- Disinfect stables
- Farm cleaning
- Killing avian flu
It would be safe to say that, over time, Jeyes fluid has built up a trusted reputation as a dependable, effective disinfection product.
In 2018, we were approached by a customer, who was looking for a safe disinfectant for use in their garden and greenhouses. Every grower she had spoken to had only one product they knew of, you guessed it - Jeyes Fluid.
However when she looked into this product deeper, it became apparent that the popularity of Jeyes Fluid was not through choice it had been bred from tradition and a lack of eco-friendly options on the market.
In order to achieve organically produced fruit and vegetables, in the truest sense of the word, gardeners are making changes in the way they do things. Instead of buying manufactured fertilisers, gardeners are using cow dung straight from the farm. When it comes to pesticides, growers are looking for natural and safe alternatives to harmful chemicals.
We wrote about the eco-friendly disinfectants available online – you can get that here
We wanted to look into this subject deeper and find out more about Jeyes Fluid and the effects it could be having on plants, humans and the environment.
Is Jeyes Fluid harmful? Here are 5 important reasons why not to use this product
- Contains harmful ingredients
- Dangerous around animals
- Ill effects on people
- Adverse effect in the garden
- Bad for the planet
1 - Harmful ingredients - what ingredients are in Jeyes fluid?
Jeyes Fluid contains the following chemicals which we will summarise for you:
- Pinkish to white crystalline solid with a phenolic odour (phenols have a distinct sickly sweet, tarry smell)
- Melting point 64-66°C.
- Shipped as a solid or in a liquid carrier.
- Soluble in aqueous (water) base.
- Toxic by ingestion, inhalation or skin absorption.
- Used as an external germicide (a substance that destroys harmful bacteria, viruses and fungus)
- Used as a preservative in paints and inks.
Tar acids are a reaction product obtained by neutralizing coal tar oil alkaline extract with an acidic solution, such as aqueous sulfuric acid, or gaseous carbon dioxide, to obtain the free acids.
Composed primarily of tar acids such as phenol, cresols, and xylenols.*
Alkylphenols are used to make alkylphenol ethoxylates, which are widely used as industrial surfactants. They are used as emulsifiers for polymerization, as detergents and pesticides, and in the processing of wool and metals.
It is a colourless, flammable chemical compound with a strong odour much like alcohol.
It is used in glues, rubbing alcohols and other solvents and was historically used as an anaesthetic until it complications arose, including respiratory irritation, internal bleeding, and visual and hearing problems. In rare cases, respiratory failure leading to death.
Terpineol is a monoterpene alcohol that has been isolated from a variety of sources such as cajuput oil, pine oil, and petitgrain oil.
Terpineol is naturally occurring has a pleasant odour similar to lilac and is a common ingredient in perfumes, cosmetics, and flavours
Jeyes have made this information available by providing a safety data sheet. You can find out more about the ingredients in Jeyes Fluid and their effects here:
2 Dangerous around animals - Is Jeyes fluid harmful to pets?
Jeyes fluid can have an adverse effect on all animals and pets but in particular it is especially poisonous to cats because of the coal acid content. (See Tar acids)
Cats lack the ability to clean phenol, out of their bloodstream so when chewed, swallowed or ingested even through the skin, cats can be subject to phenol poisoning.
Related content: Cats and phenols
Jeyes fluid is widely used by kennel owners and working dog companies which gives rise to the questions surrounding the effects of these ingredients on dogs.
When asked “Are any of the Jeyes products harmful to pets?” Jeyes have advised “Pets should be kept off the area the product has been applied to until it is completely dry.”
How practical this advice is, really depends on each circumstance however, why take the risk?
Related content: Dog poisoned by Jeyes Fluid
3 Ill effects on people - Is Jeyes fluid harmful to humans?
Jeyes fluid contains a close relative of creosote, which is a known carcinogen.
A carcinogen is a substance that is capable of causing cancer in living tissue.
In addition to this, the data sheet details many other hazards associated with this product:
- Harmful in contact with skin and if swallowed.
- R11 Highly flammable R36 Irritating to eyes.
- R38 Irritating to skin.
- R43 May cause sensitisation by skin contact.
- R41 Risk of serious damage to eyes.
- R24/25 Toxic in contact with skin and if swallowed.
- R67 Vapours may cause drowsiness and dizziness.
- R50 Very toxic to aquatic organisms.
- Hazard Statements In Full H225 Highly flammable liquid and vapour.
- H302 Harmful if swallowed.
- H312 Harmful in contact with skin.
- H317 May cause an allergic skin reaction.
- H318 Causes serious eye damage.
- H319 Causes serious eye irritation.
- H336 May cause drowsiness or dizziness.
- H400 Very toxic to aquatic life.
4 - Adverse effects in the Garden - Is Jeyes fluid harmful to my fruit and vegetable plants?
One in six adults have started growing their own food in the last four years, according to the poll commissioned by City of London.
When you visit any gardening forum there is a lot of conflicting evidence surrounding the use of Jeyes Fluid. Visit their website FAQ page and it would appear that where Jeyes was a preferred product for multiple uses in the garden, they now state:
“Regrettably, as this product is now subject to Ministry regulations, we are unable at present, to confirm recommendations other than those printed on the latest can. Since EC Regulations in 2003, the product is no longer effective as ……..”
You can read more about the 2003 EU regulations here:
Related content: Waging war on chemical weapons
Growing your own food is on the rise; if you are going to invest time and money into a greenhouse or plot you want to make sure each element of your growing project done properly with minimal risk and optimal benefits.
5 Bad for the planet - is Jeyes Fluid harmful to the environment?
The short and maybe not so sweet answer to this is yes.
You just have to look at the hazard warnings in the data safety sheet to realise that Jeyes Fluid has an adverse effect on the environment. In addition to all the warnings that would initially be associated with human contact, there are specific warnings regarding aquatic life which is relative when it comes to the disposal of the disinfectant:
- H400 Very toxic to aquatic life
- R50 Very toxic to aquatic organisms
These environmental pollutants have been linked to the decrease in certain bird and fish populations and even directly associated with cancer in wild animals.
There is always an element of waste water that find its way back into the ecosystem. This waste water contains a degree of the original cleaning product itself.
When returned to the environment, the chemicals found in the cleaners have an adverse effect of plants and animal species.
Resource: Environmental science and Technology
Gardeners and growers are ready to make the change to how they clean and disinfect their plots; they just need the information to allow them to make an informed decision.
Sticking with tradition can be problematic; if nobody asked questions, continued to develop and improve or challenged the status quo, things could be a whole lot different:
Take sugar for example:
We all know sugar is bad for our health, right?
Well back in the 1970’s (which is not all that long ago) sugar was being promoted as a slimming aid!
Now, sugar is found in an astronomical amount of different foods, ones that may not be immediately apparent.
Sugar is one of the main elements in the development some health issues, such as:
- Weight gain
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Rotten teeth
What if we had had all the information we have about sugar and its ill effects, back in 1970?
Well apart from the obesity crisis and everything that comes with it such as the associated diseases and strain on the NHS, we would have been able to make our own decisions.
We are not here to slate other products and shove ours down your neck, that’s not cool.
We want to arm you with information – what you do after that is up to you.
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.
I remember seeing this several years ago and it has resonated with me ever since:
We hope that this article has given you something to consider, maybe even allow you to think deeper into how your actions impact others and the world we live in.
The environment, healthly living and sustainability is something we are really interested in, are you?
Would you like to hear more from us?
There are quite a few links in the articles so in case you missed one we have listed them here for you: Other articles to read: Dog poisoned by Jeyes Fluid Waging war on chemical weapons 10 reasons why organic food is better for you and the planet Eco-friendly disinfectants available online Data sheets, information sources and white papers: ** Pubchem website * ECHA Europa Wikipedia - Terpineol Jeyes safety data sheet Cats and phenols Environmental science and Technology