The chloroxylenol in Dettol is an antimicrobial disinfectant used to kill bacteria and to prevent infections on minor scrapes, cuts or burns. The substance is commonly found in antibacterial soaps, but it is also used to control bacteria, algae and fungi on industrial surfaces where clean facilities are needed. Some liquids that contain chloroxylenol must be diluted before application on the human body.
Chloroxylenol was first registered as a pesticide in the United States in 1959. The original purpose of the substance was a fungicide in hospitals. Consumers often use household products containing chloroxylenol to sanitize surfaces in the home. Veterinarians also use the chemical to clean their facilities.
Chloroxylenol is noted for its lack of degradation. Even after a week in raw sewage, testing indicated up to 70 percent of the chemical's structure was still intact. This makes chloroxyenol a hardier antimicrobial compound as compared to phenol liquids.
The suggested use for Dettol liquid is to dilute one tablespoon in 10 ounces of water before applying to a wound on the human body. Other products such as wipes, hand soaps and spray disinfectants can be used right out of the package. Chloroxyenol is for external use only and should not be ingested. This chemical causes eye irritation, but the substance has low acute toxicity levels.