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Dettol Antiseptic Ingredients

author image Norma Chew
Norma Chew is a retired registered nurse who has been a freelance writer since 1978. Chew's articles have appeared in the "Journal of the Association of Operating Room Nurses" (AORN), "Point of View Magazine" and "Today's OR Nurse." Chew has a master's degree in health care administration from Nova Southeastern University.
Dettol Antiseptic Ingredients
Disinfectants and cleaning supplies next to a sink. Photo Credit: Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Dettol, an antiseptic cleaning product made by Reckitt Benckiser, was developed based on modifications of phenol, an antiseptic that kills germs, discovered in 1860, by Joseph Lister. The active ingredient in dettol is cholroxylenol B.P.4.8%w/v. The other ingredients include isopropyl alcohol, pine oil, castor oil soap, caramel and water. These ingredients make dettol an effective antiseptic-disinfectant that kills bacteria, according to Chemistryinyourcupboard website.

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Chloroxylenol is the antibacterial in dettol that acts to kill germs and reduce inflammation. Chloroxylenol makes dettol an effective household disinfectant. According to the website, chloroxylenol could cause mild skin irritation in some individuals, or cause an allergic reaction in others. An allergic reaction is a medical emergency. 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. There may also be tightness of the chest and difficulty breathing, as well as redness, burning, blisters or peeling of the skin.

Isopropyl Alcohol

Isopropyl is a secondary alcohol. This colorless, flammable, chemical compound has a strong odor. Isopropyl alcohol has antiseptic effects which gives dettol the ability to kill bacteria and fungi when used for wound care. It also makes dettol a good household cleaning product. Isopropyl alcohol solutions of 90 to 99 percent are used to preserve specimens. Sterilizing pads usually contain a 60 to 70 percent solution of isopropyl alcohol, according to website.

Pine Oil

Pine tree is the source of pine oil. 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 is used in a variety of bath oils and bath soaps and as an essential oil in aromatherapy. Pine oil has antiseptic and disinfectant properties and a distinct aroma that characterizes dettol and other products made with pine oil.

Castor Oil Soap/Other Ingredients

Castor oil soap is a product made from castor oil. It contains a high concentration of ricinoleic acid, an unsaturated fatty acid, not found in any other substance, according to the website. Ricinoleic acid is the active ingredient in castor oil. Castor oil soap is used to keep the phenol in dettol in solution until it is diluted with water for use.

Caramel 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.

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