Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Dettol Complete Clean - kills the bacteria that live in lava?


Cleaner than Lava
(Links go to
Fact: Some bacteria are almost(1) indestructible. They can even survive in lava(2).
So think how easily the bacteria in your kitchen can survive(3).
Most spray cleaners only do half the job because they can leave bacteria behind.(4)
New Dettol Complete Clean cuts through tough grease better than the leading cleaners(5), and kills 99.9% of bacteria.(6)
Giving your surfaces a complete clean every time. For the dirt you can see and the germs you can't use Dettol Complete Clean.
(1) Weasel word alert. All bacteria can be killed, one way or another. Radiation and extreme heat/pressure for example.

(2) Absolute bollocks (unless the lava has cooled to such an extent that it's no longer in the state any reasonable person would call lava - i.e. glowing red hot and possibly flowing, as 'indicated' in the advert.) Hyperthermophile's (currently the bacteria generally agreed to be the most viable at high temperatures) can live at temperatures of up to 122°C, but beyond that, while they may survive they aren't actually going to be doing very much. One that was heated to over 130°C only started becoming functional again once the temperature was lowered. Lower it to room/body temperature and it's going to become inactive again. Think about what happens to regular bacteria once you stick them in the freezer.

Take the temperature above 150°C and the cohesion of DNA (and other stuff the bacteria is made of) starts to fall apart.

Lava (molten rock) is generally around 700°C-1,200°C

(3) Are we still on Lava bacteria? If so they're not going to be doing very much on your room temperature surfaces, or in your body temperature gut. And ignoring the temperature problem, how viable/'compatible' is such bacteria that would not have interacted with a human being in millennia be with such a human.

If, on the other hand, we've moved back to the more mundane bacteria you're far more likely to find in your kitchen, why bother with the lava references?

(4) Weasel words. "Most spray cleaners?" Which ones would they be? Some of Dettol's previous products perhaps? Which (other) ones are better than Dettol's?

Anyway, unless you're steam cleaning your kitchen and turning it into a clean room, you're not going to be getting rid of even most of the bacteria, no matter how fancy the spray, or the solution inside.

(5) Weasel words again. Better than the leading cleaners? What about some of the other cleaners that aren't so leading. Leading how, by the way? Unit sales? Volume of product? Sale by value? Over what geographical area....

(6) So what about the remaining 0.1% that could bench-press a truck? Why isn't it killing that last 0.1%? Should we be worried about it? Incidentally since there are numerous other products that claim to kill 99.9% of bacteria, Dettol's product wouldn't appear to be that much better than the competition.


  1. I've been meaning to complain about that advert, I'm a microbiologist and the highest achievable temperature for life is around 165 degrees C. At this temperature ATP 'the energy molecules' is broken down.

  2. Dettol can only kill 99.9% of bacteria. Lava will kill 100% :-)

  3. owned. god i love intelligence. well i say god. what i mean is. personally i love intelligence, but at the end of the day the majority of the population will believe what they are told. Science for the win :D

  4. This has been annoying me as well. So I today complained to the ASA!

  5. Well I had a response from the ASA. "Having reviewed the ad, Council acknowledged that although the claim about bacteria surviving in lava was factually inaccurate, they didn't believe that viewers were likely to interpret the ad as suggesting that such bacteria could be found in kitchens. While the ad might create a false impression about the characteristics of some bacteria, they concluded that it was unlikely to mislead viewers to their detriment or cause undue distress. Thank you for taking the time blah blah blah."

  6. ...they didn't believe that viewers were likely to interpret the ad as suggesting that such bacteria could be found in kitchens.

    Utter bollocks, and what a cop out.

    Thanks for that though, I may be tempted to complain myself and phrase it such that they can't use that response....

  7. I want to attract attention toward hazards of an ingredient used in your product "dettol hand sanitizer"
    The ingredient C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer used in dettol hand sanitizer is highly carcinogenic.

  8. Anjali: an ingredient used in your product

    You appear to be under the mistaken impression that this page is under the control of Dettol. It is not.

    The ingredient C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer used in dettol hand sanitizer is highly carcinogenic.

    (Reliable) citation please. Other 'blogs' don't count. The nearest I could get to any rumours of this is here which states It may be a carcinogen.

    The datasheet certainly makes no mention of carcinogenicity.

  9. A few things...

    To the person who claims to be a microbiologist. Apparently you aren't a good one because it is just a theory that none can survive above 165oC. As of yet, we are unable to grow bacteria in a lab under these conditions. That said, there are hyperthermophiles that grow at upwards of 140oC and lend credence to the possibility that we just have not yet discovered bacteria that can survive higher temperatures.

    Which leads to the comment about radiation...

    Deinococcus radiodurans can survive any form of radiation we can create on earth without any issues whatsoever. It is estimated that D. radiodurans can survive 500,000x the amount of radiation we can produce, but of course, we cannot produce it, so we cannot test it.

    Also, Dettol does not lie. It kills 99.9% of bacteria that it is aiming to kill. Maybe you should actually read a label for Dettol someday, including the fine print. It isn't trying to kill extremophiles, which would never be in your home, or place of work, or 99.9% of places humans propagate because most extremophiles COULD NOT SURVIVE THOSE CONDITIONS IN THE FIRST PLACE.

    From Dettol's own website:

    Types of Germs:

    * Bacteria: Salmonella and E. coli bacteria can cause food poisoning.
    * Viruses: Rhinoviruses can cause colds. Herpes simplex virus causes cold sores. Influenza viruses cause flu.
    * Fungi: Trichophyton (a dermatophyte) can cause athlete's foot.
    * Parasites: Giardia can cause diarrhoea.


    The supposed microbiologist should have been able to tell you that since as part of their degree they would have learned these things, like in a very basic phenol coefficient lab.

    And yes, I am a REAL microbiologist.

  10. "Deinococcus radiodurans can survive any form of radiation we can create on earth without any issues whatsoever."


    I wouldn't call 37% viability after an acute dose of 15,000Gy "without any issues whatsoever"