A Michigan dog breeder reports that in order to head off parasitic re-infections of her dogs, she sprays Lysol disinfectant, ammonia or bleach on her lawn every other week and has never killed grass. A periodic shot of a solution containing 9 parts water and 1 part Lysol, however, may wipe out parasite colonies without damage to their home turf, grass. Over time, however, some of Lysol’s ingredients could affect the soil.
The original Lysol product, which is in a brown bottle, contains a mixture of water, coconut oil, phenol-based microbicide, o-Benzyl-p-chorophenol, potassium hydroxide to stabilize pH, several solvents, including ethanol, isopropyl alcohol and xylenols, and tetrasodium EDTA, a chelating agent that forms chemical bonds enabling the compound to work in hard water. This combination, according to the material safety data sheet filed by Lysol’s manufacturer, Reckitt-Benckiser, kills 99.9 percent of viruses and bacteria. Its solvents make it moderately flammable, harmful when ingested and corrosive if splashed on skin, eyes or mucous membranes.
The typical use for Lysol is as a disinfectant. Nowhere on its material safety data sheet or package label does its manufacturer recommend its use on growing plants. Lysol can be used as a disinfectant for garden tools that may act as carriers for plant diseases, and it was selected as the least likely tested disinfectant to pit tools’ metal surfaces, according to a Washington State University website article.
Lysol and Lawn
Lawns fall victim to a variety of pathogens, including vascular wilts and root rots. Rather than spraying an infected lawn with Lysol, cultural methods, including irrigation, fertilization and thatch control, may be more effective in controlling the infection. If vascular wilts and root rots are present in your lawn, ask a lawn-care professional whether or not cleaning the underside of your lawnmower’s housing, including its blade, with a 10-percent Lysol solution may help limit the spread of disease.
The Bottom Line
Because Lysol kills 99.9 percent of virus and bacteria, its use on a lawn or garden could kill beneficial bacteria necessary for normal composting processes. Its solvents dry and dehydrate plant tissue, and its coconut oil acts as a surfactant, adhering chemicals to grass blades. Other Lysol products have varying ingredients. Lysol Disinfecting Wipes, for example, contain ethanol and an alkyl, dimethyl benzyl ammonium chlorides, that have similar effects. A full-strength dose of Lysol could damage both grass plants and the soil in which they grow. A solution that is 90 percent water and 10 percent Lysol and that is applied to only equipment, however, should not damage grass or soil.