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Several people asked me this question.

According to the makers of dettol, this product has not been tested on this pandemic (Covid 19) causing corona virus. 

Dettol has been tested on other viruses, bacteria and fungi. It was found that it works on some viruses, bacteria and fungi but doesn't work well on fungal spores.  

The key active ingredient of dettol liquid is a modified form of the antiseptic phenol, called chloroxylenol BP, according to the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC). Dettol contains chloroxylenol BP in a 4.8 percent concentration of weight to volume, according to the UK Electronic Medicines Compendium.

The product's other ingredients include isopropyl alcohol, pine oil, castor oil soap, caramel coloring and water. These ingredients contribute to Dettol's antiseptic properties, make it water-soluble and give it color, per the RSC.

Ingredients in Dettol Antiseptic

  • Active ingredient: Chloroxylenol BP (antiseptic, disinfectant)
  • Isopropyl alcohol (antiseptic)
  • Pine oil
  • Castor oil soap
  • Caramel coloring
  • Water

Chloroxylenol is the active antibacterial ingredient in Dettol that kills bacteria, mycobacterium, fungi and some viruses, according to an FDA report . Dettol has been confirmed to kill strains of the coronavirus, but according to the company, it has not yet been possible to test the products' effectiveness against the virus that causes COVID-19.

It is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines

Dettol causes some allergic reactions in some people. I myself have seen it when a close relative of mine developed blisters and peeling of skin when dettol was used by her.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), chloroxylenol, as well as other disinfectants, can cause mild skin irritation in some individuals or cause an allergic reaction in others.

Seek immediate medical attention if any of these signs occur while using Dettol:

  • A rash or hives with swelling of the face, mouth, throat or tongue
  • Tightness of the chest and difficulty breathing
  • Redness, burning, blisters or peeling of the skin

Isopropyl is a secondary antiseptic ingredient. This is a strong-smelling, colorless, flammable chemical compound that gives Dettol the ability to kill bacteria and and viruses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Pine oil is made from the cone, twigs and needles of the pine tree. When pine oil is diluted in water it emulsifies, or forms a cloudy liquid. This cloudiness also occurs when Dettol is diluted.

Pine oil has mild antiseptic and disinfectant properties and a distinct aroma that characterizes Dettol and other products made with pine oil, according to Science Direct. 

Castor oil soap is a product made from castor bean oil. The soap contains a high concentration of ricinoleic acid, the active ingredient in castor oil. The ricinoleic acid is essential for holding the other active ingredients in Dettol in cohesive solution until it is diluted with water for use, per the RSC.

Caramel coloring and water are the other ingredients in Dettol. Caramel gives Dettol its yellowish-brown color and the water acts as a diluent, binding the other ingredients together.

Dettol Antiseptic Ingredients

Dettol works by disruption of the cell wall and stopping the function of enzymes.

However, some pharmacists say, Savlon is an antiseptic brand that contains two antiseptics, cetrimide and chlorhexidine gluconate and is better than dettol.  Savlon solution is very mild and doesn't irritate the skin. It is better for children as it is mild. 

This paper  deals with some chemicals and their effect on viruses:

However, some microbes have developed resistance to these chemicals too.

Bacteria resistent to the main biocides Chloroxylenol (Dettol), Cetrimide and Chlorhexidine (Savlon). The exact mechanism of resistance will vary between each resistant bacteria, but bacterial resistance have been found for all of these common biocides.

Overview of resistances:

Examples of reported resistance

Chloroxylenol- and triclos

Acquired resistance to chlorhexidine - is it time to establish an ‘...

Adaptation to Biocides Cetrimide and Chlorhexidine in Bacteria from...

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