Disinfectants: Dangerous Ingredients to Avoid

Read Time: 6 minutes

Disinfectants are cleaning agents that kill most disease-causing microorganisms. Though disinfectants can do plenty of good, they can also contain harmful ingredients that can negatively impact your health or the health of your loved ones. Let’s explore some of the dangerous ingredients to look out for in your disinfectant products.

What is a Disinfectant?

Disinfectants are a broad category of cleaning agents that are used to destroy the growth of most disease-causing microorganisms. Disinfectants come in many forms, including sprays, powders, and liquids. All disinfectants contain ingredients known as active chemicals, which cause bacteria, viruses, and other harmful substances to die off or become inactive.

Disinfectants need strong chemicals to be effective, and certain types of these chemicals can be dangerous. The Environmental Protection Agency has banned certain ingredients from being used in disinfectants due to their toxic effects, while others remain in play and have been shown to cause dangerous effects.

Harmful Disinfectant Ingredients


Phenol is an ingredient that was previously used in many household disinfectant sprays. Although phenolic compounds are commonly found in plants such as henna, they’re used less often now because of their negative health effects – especially those that carry carcinogenic properties. Phenol is harmful due to its corrosive nature on skin cells leading to burns and other irritating results. It can also be hazardous when ingested or inhaled with a risk for kidney damage, depression, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Iodine complex

Iodine complex has been banned due to its toxic effects on humans. It has been found to cause allergic reactions in those with sensitive skin or asthma, and it can also irritate the lungs of healthy individuals when inhaled.


Hexylresorcinol became a banned ingredient due to its ability to cause chronic skin irritation, allergic dermatitis, and the potential for cancer.


Formaldehyde is used in many disinfectant sprays because it kills bacteria on contact. However, the EPA has banned formaldehyde from use in household products due to its carcinogenic properties when inhaled or absorbed through one’s skin.


Fluorosalan was used as an ingredient in many disinfectants because it inhibits the reproduction of bacteria; however, certain studies have shown that this chemical can cause lung irritation and allergies.

Methylene chloride

The EPA has banned methylene chloride from use as an active ingredient in household products due to its high toxicity levels and potential for serious health effects when inhaled or absorbed through the skin.


Cloflucarban became a banned ingredient in disinfectants because of its known harmful effects on humans, including reproductive and developmental toxicity.


Triclosan may be one of the most widely-known banned ingredients found in disinfectants and sanitizers. Not long ago, triclosan could be found in many hand sanitizers. Studies have shown that Triclosan can cause allergic contact dermatitis and endocrine disruption.


Tribrosalan is an ingredient that has been shown to cause developmental toxicity in animal studies. The EPA has banned this ingredient from use in disinfectants and sanitizers.

Nonylphenoxypoly (ethyleneoxy) ethanoliodine

Nonylphenoxypoly (ethyleneoxy) ethanoliodine was banned by the EPA due to its potential to cause reproductive and developmental problems from prolonged exposure.


The EPA found this ingredient to cause endocrine disruption in animals, which is why it was banned from use in disinfectants and sanitizers. Tribromopropane also poses a risk for human health due to the potential of causing liver damage or cancer, as well as neurotoxicity.


Hexachlorophene was banned from use in disinfectants and sanitizers due to its discovered potential for causing cancer.


Triclocarban is an ingredient used in some antibacterial products that has been found to disrupt hormones in animals and could cause reproductive problems in humans.

Sodium Oxychlorosene

Sodium Ocychlorosene has been shown to negatively impact the brain’s ability to function.

Nonylphenoxypoly (ethyleneoxy) ethanoliodine

Nonylphenoxypoly (ethyleneoxy) ethanoliodine was banned from use in disinfectants and sanitizers due to its potential for causing fetal developmental toxicity.


Povidone-iodine has been banned at certain levels in certain disinfectant products due to its potential for endocrine disruption.

Chlorine bleach

Chlorine is a dangerous chemical that has been known to cause respiratory problems, allergies, and asthma in those with sensitivities or who are already at risk from chronic health conditions such as COPD, emphysema, or lung disease. Chlorine also poses risks of skin irritation, allergy reactions, and accidental eye exposure which could result in vision loss.

Triple dye

Triple dye was effectively banned from use in disinfectants in the U.S., due to its potential for causing skin irritation, allergy reactions, and accidental eye exposure which could result in vision loss.

Alkylbenzene sulfonate

Many alkylbenzene sulfonate (ABS) ingredients are known carcinogens or suspected of being linked with cancer development when used for prolonged periods of time.

Didecyl dimethylammonium chloride

This disinfectant ingredient has been banned at certain levels by the EPA due to concerns about its ability to cause respiratory problems such as coughing and wheezing among those with sensitivities.

Secondary Amyltricresols

Secondary Amyltricresols were banned from use as a disinfectant ingredient in the United States because of their potential to cause serious eye disorders and allergies.

Quaternary ammonium compounds

These ingredients can often be found in dishwasher detergent and liquid soap. Prolonged exposure may lead to respiratory problems or allergies, according to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration and Centers for Disease Control.

Propylene glycol

Exposure to propylene glycol over a long period of time has been linked with negative health effects such as allergic reactions, including hives or asthma symptoms in certain people.

Finding Safe Formulations

When searching for a disinfectant or cleaning product for personal or professional use, it is important to be aware of the ingredients that may be harmful to you or your family. Though you may not apply these products directly to your skin or body, they can be absorbed through regular exposure. Be sure to check the label and seek out safe formulations.

Goldshield disinfectant products are formulated with safe and effective ingredients. Goldshield products use proprietary antimicrobial technology and are free of alcohol, acids, harsh odors, and other solvents, making them a trustworthy choice in disinfectant products.

We’re here to help you find the right solutions for your disinfectant and cleaning needs. Get in touch with a team member today to learn more about our safe formulations and trusted product line.

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Goldshield products offer powerful yet gentle protection that is safe for families, pets, clothes, and surfaces.

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