Dettol ® is a commercial name for the cresol disinfectant, also known as brown-bottle Lysol ®. See the entry here, Disinfectants for camp, field, and household
“Dettol is one of those chemicals which we instantly recognise by its distinctive smell. It is an aromatic compound derived from phenol, which contains a significant chlorine atom, helping us in our continuous fight against unwanted bacteria.”
Dettol / Lysol, like the chlorine bleach (Clorox ®) contains chlorine atoms. This explains its antiseptic or antibacterial or disinfecting ability. It is highly effective, when properly used, against MRSA and fungi. But this also explains why too much is dangerous to tissues or organs and can cause suffocation (“chlorine gas” is a chemical warfare agent). Note below that being harmed can result from exposure too often or in too concentrated doses. However, Lysol or Dettol can be a very safe disinfectant, just not in the extremes.
‘Dettol Man’ cleans himself to death
By Lester Haines Published Tuesday 29th May 2007 11:21 GMT
A coroner has recorded a verdict of death by misadventure on a reclusive Manchester man whose obsession with cleanliness led local children to dub him “Dettol Man”.
Jacques Niemand, 42, of Didsbury, died of “an inadequate supply of oxygen to his vital organs” provoked by over-exposure to Dettol ® the Telegraph reports. The inquest heard that he “habitually placed buckets of Dettol around his flat”, while the rooms were “littered” with bottles of the liquid.
Niemand’s sister Ruth Bain explained that her brother had suffered from an “obsessive cleaning disorder” for some years, but didn’t seek medical help… Pathologist Dr Lorna McWilliam told the inquest it was “difficult to say whether [Niemand’s] exposure to Dettol had been through ingestion or inhalation”.
…”We do not know if death occurred quickly or over a period of time.” …Gorodkin suggested the fatal dose might have arisen since Niemand “knew workmen were due to begin improvements to his flat on the day he died he may have wanted to make himself particularly clean”.