Americans have become increasingly concerned over making every inch of their world sanitary. Anti-bacterial soaps are nearly unavoidable, and anyone watching television during the day would think that American homes are cesspools of infection--unless the products advertised are used diligently to scrub each little nook and cranny. One of the oldest disinfectants on the market is Lysol, and it has been put to some very surprising uses.


Hard though it is to believe, as recently as 1948, Lysol was being advertised as a feminine hygiene product. According to the Museum of Menstruation and Women's Health, women were warned that not douching with a solution of Lysol and water would result in the loss of their husbands' affection. Until 1960, douching with Lysol after sex was the most popular method of birth control among American housewives.

Lysol Ingredients

Lysol contains ethanol/SD alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, carbon dioxide, benzalkonium chloride, and 2-phenylphenol.

Ethanol/SD aclohol is a highly flammable sanitizer. Isopropyl alcohol is there to both sanitize and remove odors, and it is what gives Lysol its strong smell. Benzalkonium chloride is a bactericide, algaecide and fungicide, and 2-phenylphenol is a disinfectant. The carbon dioxide is a binding agent.

Alcohol Dangers

All alcohols have a very drying effect on the skin. Soaking in a bath that contains enough of the alcohols present in Lysol to kill the desired bacteria will also result in uncomfortable, itchy, dry skin.

Irritant Dangers

According to a June 1, 2004, article published in the journal Contact Dermatitis, a study of benzalkonium chloride confirms that it is "a significant skin irritant." Especially for mucous membranes, such as the vagina and nasal passages, which are not protected by an outer layer of skin.

Soaking in a bathtub with a high enough concentration of this chemical could result in contact dermatitis, and even burns to the mucous membranes.

Bactericide Dangers

The Mayo Clinic tells us that an imbalance in the natural bacteria of the vagina can cause bacterial vaginosis, which can result in a foul-smelling discharge that is grayish-white in color, with a fish-like odor that may become more intense after intercourse. Thus, soaking in a bathtub containing a bactericide could obviously cause problems for women and girls.


The answer to this question is in two parts. First, while no specific clinical studies have been done, common sense tells us that you cannot safely put large quantities of Lysol into your bath water without risking skin irritation or worse. Second, you certainly can put very small quantities of Lysol in your bath water, but there is no point in doing so, except to possibly make your skin smell funny.