Is Pine-Sol Toxic? Does It Have Harmful Chemicals?

Pine Sol

Keeping your home clean and smelling fresh is everyone’s ultimate goal. But is Pine-Sol the right companion for your cleaning needs? Or is it as toxic as the day is long? 

Fortunately, Pine-Sol isn’t the toxic mess you think it is. It does have some mildly irritating ingredients that may cause reactions from the skin or eyes. It may also be pungent to the nose when applying it. But otherwise, its composition is safe if used according to guidelines. 

Of course, if you decide to down some Pine-Sol for a kick, that’s another story. The only possible toxic ingredient in Pine-Sol is toluene. Its presence has not been verified but is strongly suspected. 

This ingredient is quite a harmful substance. Since it is not an ingredient, it is hoped that only traces of it are present, if at all. 

This article is a brief guide about Pine-Sol and the do’s and don’ts.


These ingredients are common to all Pine-Sol variants. There may be additional fragrances added to some.

  • PEG/PPG Propylheptyl ether 

This compound is a surfactant that removes grime and breaks down grease. 

  • C10-12 Alcohol Ethoxylates

This additional surfactant is also an emulsifying agent. It helps to combine oily residues with water and suspend them in the liquid. This way they can be removed with ease. It also reduces friction or static on a surface, allowing easy application. 

  • Glycolic Acid 

This scum-removing compound can eliminate rust, lime scaling, stains and any oily deposits or hard water sediments. It also has antibacterial properties that sanitize in addition to cleaning. 

  • Xanthan Gum 

This resin is used to thicken the liquid for better consistency. 

Does Pine-Sol contain pine oil? 

Pine-Sol cleaners no longer contain any pine oil. They used to contain between 8-12% pine essential oils. But post-2016, the Pine-Sol concoction was reformulated to remove pine oil (Pinus Palustris), given the backlash against its potential toxicity. 

The company also claimed there was a shortage of pine oil supplies during that period. Now, the Pine-Sol formula only has trace amounts of pine scent in the form of pine essential oils. These attempt to provide some similarity to the original pine forest scent. 

Does Pine-Sol contain bleach? 

Pine-Sol cleaning liquids do not contain any bleach. Pine-Sol uses alcohol ethoxylates and PEG ethers as cleaning agents. Pine-Sol uses glycolic acid as an active ingredient which sets off the cleaning process. 

Glycolic acid should never be mixed with bleach or sodium hydroxide. The result is noxious fumes that can have adverse health impacts. At lower concentrations, the fumes cause breathing problems or nasal irritation. 

At very high concentrations, inhaling these fumes may cause loss of consciousness, disorientation, and fluid build-up in the lungs. 

Does Pine-Sol contain ammonia? 

Pine-Sol does not contain ammonia. Ammonia is often used in cleaning products because it helps in the disintegration of grease and oily stains. It does this without leaving any smudges or streaks. It also vaporizes quickly, so you don’t have to wait too long before re-organizing. 

But ammonia is a toxic fume that can burn your throat and lungs and irritate the eyes. Pine-Sol uses slightly gentler alternative cleaning agents such as C10-12 Alcohol ethoxylates and sodium lauryl sulfates (SLS). 

These agents also have side effects but are not as corrosive as ammonia. 

Does Pine-Sol contain phenol? 

Pine-Sol cleaners no longer contain phenol in their ingredients list. As with the removal of pine oil, phenols also appear to have gotten the boot. But since there is a small amount of pine essential oil, there may be trace phenolic compounds. 

But these concentrations aren’t enough to cause any harm. Phenols are disinfectants that are made from coal tar petroleum derivatives. These phenols are poisonous with prolonged exposure. They can cause nervous system damage and even kidney and liver failure. 

Does Pine-Sol contain toluene?

Toluene is not listed as an ingredient in Pine-Sol cleaners. But independent studies and reports point to the presence of toluene as a hidden additive. Not all ingredient components are fully disclosed. 

Toluene is a by-product of coal tar product of coal and crude oil refining processes. There are ingredients that are derived from coal tar or petroleum in Pine-Sol, such as 2,7 naphthalene disulfonic acid. So the presence of toluene cannot be completely ruled out. 

Toluene inhalation can affect the central nervous system, and the heart and cause mood disorders. There is also a paint thinner whiff from Pine-Sol, which gives away the toluene. 

Does Pine-Sol contain alcohol? 

Pine-Sol cleaners do contain alcohol ethoxylates which are multipurpose ingredients. They are surfactants and sudsing agents – they provide just enough foam. They help combat the hardness of water for effective cleaning. 

They are also good wetting agents, which makes the process of scrubbing down the surface easier. Alcohol ethoxylates aid in dissolving those ingredients which are immiscible with water. 

The ethoxylates themselves are also soluble in water which makes for a workable cleaning solution. 

Does Pine-Sol contain vinegar? 

Pine-Sol cleaners do not contain vinegar. Vinegar on its own is a great cleaning agent. Vinegar is an acidic substance that aids in breaking down deposits of dirt and chemical residue. Stains and soap build-up will also be a thing of the past with vinegar cleaning. 

You can use vinegar together with baking soda to clean up pet urine and other food stains as well. It can be used concentrated or diluted depending on your needs. You can also combine it with Pine-Sol for a more rigorous cleaning that leaves behind a sparkling surface.

Does Pine-Sol contain wax? 

The Pine-Sol cleaner formula does not contain any wax or waxy substance. It does not use any lubricants or polishing emulsifiers such as paraffin, beeswax, or microcrystalline wax. These waxes are usually added to cleaners for a protective finish or waterproofing. 

Since Pine-Sol does not contain any wax, it can be used on most finished wood floors or laminate floors. But, it can’t be used on waxed, unfinished or rugged, unpainted or old wood which has its share of wear and tear. 

Does Pine-Sol contain TCE? 

There is no TCE (trichloroethylene) in Pine-Sol cleaners. TCE is a degreasing agent and an extraction solvent. It can adhere to and suspend the fat or oil particles in the cleaning liquid, allowing them to be disposed of. 

But trichloroethylene is also a proven carcinogen. Exposure to this compound can cause disturbed sleep, loss of coordination, and organ damage. It can also cause metabolic disturbances alongside neural deterioration. 

Does Pine-Sol contain benzene? 

Pine-Sol cleaners are free of benzene. They may contain some benzoylated compounds, but they are free from the harmful effects of benzene. Pine-Sol does not contain benzene-sulfonate, which is a common cleaning agent that breaks down the soil. 

Benzene in its original form causes a host of illnesses. These range from bone-marrow leukemia to immune system degeneration. In smaller amounts, it can cause significant digestive distress. In large amounts, it can even be lethal, causing a coma or death. 

What happens if you drink or inhale Pine-Sol? 

If you accidentally or purposefully ingest Pine-Sol, you will have a variety of health impacts. Depending on how much you drank, this could be vomiting, diarrhea, or burns on the GI tract. A large amount could cause significant poisoning, causing convulsions, or even death. 

Inhaling Pine-Sol immediately after application can also cause many issues. The most fatal reaction is pulmonary edema or pneumonia, in which water fills up the lungs. This can cut off your breathing and deprive the brain of oxygen. 

What happens if you get Pine-Sol in your eyes? 

If you accidentally spray or get Pine-Sol in your eyes, they will probably start watering first. You will notice redness, itching, and irritation. Immediately rinse out your eyes with cold water multiple times. 

If your eyes continue stinging or tearing up, consult an ophthalmologist or GP. They may give you drops to reduce the impact. Do not neglect medical advice if there is a persistent issue, since the cleaner could cause serious damage. 

Can Pine-Sol kill dogs or cats? (and other pets) 

Pine-Sol can be quite toxic for your pets whether cats, dogs, or birds if they ingest it. Swallowing the liquid can cause seizures, lethargy, disorientation, and gastric distress. For birds, inhaling the fumes from Pine-Sol can cause severe toxicity. 

Dogs and cats should be removed from the area until the surface is dry. If they have put their paws in the liquid, wash them thoroughly. They could lick it off themselves and fall sick. 

Birds should be relocated to another well-ventilated room to avoid their inhalation of the chemical odor. 

Can Pine-Sol kill bugs? 

Pine-Sol can be useful as an insect or bug repellant, provided it is used properly. You can either use it as it is or dilute it in water with an 80:20 water ratio. To repel spiders, spray them in wall corners or cracks, as well as in other dusty nooks.

Concentrated Pine-Sol or a combination of Pine-Sol and dish soap or detergent can kill weeds effectively. Diluted solutions may only damage or stunt their growth. Pine-Sol can also eliminate your cockroaches in one stroke. 

The composition of this antiseptic breaks down the wings and exoskeleton. You can place a little solution on the edges of the kitchen, cupboards, and bathrooms.

Rodents like mice and possums are also repelled by the smell of a 50:50 Pine-Sol and water mixture. 

If the matter of the toluene in Pine-Sol isn’t keeping you awake at night, buy a few bottles. If you’re sure a clean house is worth a few nagging doubts. Are you?

Categorized as Q&A