How Does Lysol & Bleach Kill Microorganisms?

Crystal Lassen

Not all household cleaners are created equal. Cleaners, such as bleach and Lysol, contain microorganism-killing properties. There are many cleaners on the market, but some only remove dirt and grease, while leaving illness-causing microorganisms behind.

Your home may look clean but unnoticeable bacteria breed nearly everywhere.


Microorganisms are bacteria, molds, fungi, protozoa and algae, among others. Bleach kills illness-causing microorganisms by attacking the proteins that make up the bacteria, algae, etc. This causes the proteins to unfold and break apart which leads to the death of the microorganism. Hypochlorous acid is the active ingredient in bleach that attacks the proteins which make up the microorganisms.


Lysol products contain various forms of ammonium chloride such as octyl decyl dimethyl ammonium chloride. Many Lysol products also contain bleach or ingredients that are in bleach such as hypochlorous acid. Other Lysol products contain peroxide which is also a bacteria-killing substance. The ammonium chloride works in Lysol as a dirt-releasing substance while the others, such as bleach, attack the microorganisms by unfolding and separating the proteins.


When purchasing cleaners, read the ingredients label. Learn what the individual ingredients do. Compare cleaners so that you can distinguish which cleaners are more effective in killing bacteria and protozoa.