Dettol Bar Soaps Contain MI and MCI

I have often written about the rarity of finding methylisothiazolinone or methychloroisothiazolinone in bars of soap, and regularly reassure those with isothiazolinone allergies that they are almost certainly safe. 

No longer.

Two Dettol soap bars available in the UK — Dettol Original Soap bar and, more shockingly, Dettol Sensitive Bar Soap* — both contain the MI / MCI blend, sometimes known as Kathon CG. 

The ingredients of the Dettol Sensitive Bar Soap (pictured) — click here and scroll down — are particularly inexplicable for a product bearing the words ‘gentle on your skin’.

As well as the isothiazolinones, there are a number of fragrance allergens, including alpha isomethyl ionone, which I have written about before.

I cannot conceive of how this product can be considered appropriate to be marketed in this way. 

I don’t know whether this is a new formulation, or a long-standing product of which I had not been aware. Does anyone know?

I have written to Dettol expressing my concern, and will keep you updated with their response. 

I am uncertain of the availability or formulation of these products in other countries. I understand Dettol is sometimes branded Lysol in the US, and perhaps elsewhere. Can readers in other territories in a good position to check perhaps volunteer to do so, and let me know, either through comments below or via email? 

Further updates to this article when I know more from either a UK or international perspective.

*  February 28th Footnote: Despite an email, and a follow-up, I have received no response from Dettol / RB, although during the last few weeks the ingredients of the Dettol Sensitive Bar Soap have been changed, and no longer show MI / MCI. 

26 Comments

  1. Deborah Steadman

    Thank you so much for this. The place I work bought the Dettol soap bars thinking it would be a good brand when Coronavirus hit us. I’m glad I stuck to my soap otherwise it may have started my allergies again.

    Reply
    1. MI Free (Post author)

      And thanks for your prompt comment too, Deborah! Did you check the ingredients? Or did you just stick to your usual soap? I’m trying to ascertain when this was launched, so any help with timings would be great. I’m wondering now whether they made the soap more ‘potent’ to deal with Covid 19 …

      Reply
      1. DEBORAH STEADMAN

        I’m afraid I stuck to what I know as I’ve only just got over a flare up and I’m very wary of new products. I was back in work August 2020 after the first lockdown and I’m sure the boss had bought some then, but i’m not 100% sure.

        Reply
  2. Jacqui Dickson

    Thank you for this. So good to b reminded that these nasties can be lurking anywhere. I’ve been free from allergic reactions for nearly 2 yrs now as hunt down anything containing MCI or MI.

    Reply
    1. MI Free (Post author)

      They really can, but it’s so rare in soap, that a big-name brand doing it — and labelling it ‘sensitive’ — is concerning.

      Reply
  3. Sally McKenzie

    They make a big deal out of ‘ingredient transparency‘. But so ironic that they call their preservatives “helpers”. I could think of another name for them!

    Reply
    1. MI Free (Post author)

      What I find strange is that I can’t help wondering whether they’re even needed in that formulation … But I’m not a cosmetic scientist!

      Reply
  4. K Long

    You can call them on 0333 2005 345 and mention the problem . I have and they seemed to take it seriously . Let’s make them hear our concerns ?

    Reply
    1. MI Free (Post author)

      Good plan – and well done. I’ve emailed and will try the press department route first, but might well do likewise.

      Reply
      1. Jacqui Dickson

        I’ll email their press dept too and attach photos of my face with a reaction

        Reply
        1. MI Free (Post author)

          It’s not the press department’s fault, nor their place to deal with consumers. I’m a journalist so it’s their job to deal with me, as the editor of this site.

          Reply
          1. Jacqui Dickson

            Ok. Won’t then. Who u suggest?

          2. MI Free (Post author)

            Katharine (previous comment) left a number you can call for customer services, but it might be worth waiting to see what the response is (which I’ll update this post with as soon as it comes). I would normally have waited before posting, but I felt this was so urgent, as a popular brand and product, that I posted as soon as I learned about it, just in case anyone bought it, assuming it was safe. I don’t want to dictate what my readers do and don’t do, so it’s obviously up to you; equally I don’t want to start a ‘campaign’ against them, at least not until they’ve been given the right of reply, which I’ll share.

          3. Jacqui Dickson

            Thanks. I just won’t buy it. Simples. But agree good to wait. Thank you again

  5. Rikke Dreesman

    I feel just the opposite! It seems almost every bar of soap in the USA contain MI/MCI. And now I’m in Costa Rica and have yet to find one that’s free of MI.

    Reply
    1. MI Free (Post author)

      WHAT! I’m genuinely shocked. I had no idea this was a severe problem. I realised it was possible, but not that it was more than a very rare occurrence. Do you remember any of the names / brands? Thanks, Rikke.

      Reply
      1. Rikke Dreesman

        I don’t remember any of the brands, but I’ll look next time I’m at store here in CR. And I’ll look once I get back to the States. I don’t think any of the brands here are commonly sold in the US. I’m also allergic to linalool and tea tree oil, so that might also have been the reason I couldn’t find any that worked for me. I know that MI was in all the liquid body wash I looked at here, so that’s why I started looking at the bars, too.

        Reply
        1. MI Free (Post author)

          Liquid body washes are regularly preserved with MI and/or MCI, and shampoos too. Extra difficult with the fragrance / essential oil allergens to consider. Unfragranced natural / organic brands probably the way to go. Sorry it’s been tough.

          Reply
  6. Elisabeth

    I think that some Dettol products in Australia contain MI. I had a recent relapse due to Ajax Spray and wipe being used in the workplace. Looking at the Material Safety Data Sheets, 2 out of the six Ajax products contain MI and they were using one of them. I looked at Dettol products during this search and in Australia some of them have MI on the Material Safety Data Sheets. My advice is to check the Material Safety Data Sheets and not go by the ingredient label on the product as not all ingredients are listed on the product label.

    Reply
    1. MI Free (Post author)

      There’s a distinction to be made between cosmetics (hand soap is a cosmetic) – whose ingredients have to be declared – and household detergents (Ajax and other products with MSDSs), whose ingredients don’t have to be declared in as much detail, depending on regional regulation. I’m only interested in bar soap here, but good advice re: MSDSs in products not giving full declarations.

      Reply
  7. Sally

    I also have a reaction to Linalool and Balsam of Peru (over 200 constituents) so if I see anything is labelled “natural’ I run for the hills. Along with reacting to MI and MCI this has made finding products to wash in a lifelong chore!

    Reply
    1. MI Free (Post author)

      That does not surprise me, Sally. Very difficult for you. You might find some suggestions in this article on my other website, Allergy Insight. https://www.allergy-insight.com/allergen-free-skincare/

      Reply
  8. Diana Goatly

    Hello. I have had terrible problems with my hands since early in lockdown. I avoid MI like the league, but feel it must be in certain things and not stated! I used Dove soap at first but that affected my hands, well diluted bleach (to wash surfaces), hand sanitiser. Also Ecover washing up liquid (normally use Surecare but couldn’t get any). I feel sure this was a culprit and stopped when hands really bad.

    Reply
    1. MI Free (Post author)

      Hand sanitiser during this time is causing lots of problems, I suspect, but it’s impossible to know where the source is coming from, or to be sure that you’ve not developed another sensitivity. Wear gloves for household chores. Perhaps try some barrier creams and gentle unfragranced olive oil-based soap which a lot of people use. Hopefully others will have some ideas too.

      Reply
      1. Elisabeth

        I seem to be having issues after doing the groceries. The Supermarket has pre impregnated anti bacterial wipes to wipe down the trolleys which I haven’t used, but I’m suspicious that they contain MI and that I’m having contact with the trolleys which is causing issues. I’ll be wearing gloves next time I do the groceries to see if that makes a difference.

        Reply
        1. MI Free (Post author)

          I think that’s probably wise move. Unfortunately the current situation means that a lot of anti-bacterials and detergents are being used – more than usual – and that means more MI / MCI and potentially others out in the wild …

          Reply

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