To be clear, unlike products such as Viagra and Kleenex, which were made for one purpose and were discovered to be highly useful for another, Lysol was always a disinfectant.
Never was it specifically made as birth control, yet from the 1920’s until the 1960’s, it was largely marketed for reasons other than cleaning doorknobs or tables like we use it for today.
Advertising suggested that Lysol should be used for feminine hygiene, and that it was a highly effective birth control product due its supposed ability to kill sperm. Of course, this wasn’t quite an era where one could say anything false for forty years without someone finding out, so Lysol invented European doctors to give credibility to their claims.
What’s shocking is that products like Lysol were the leading contraceptives until 1960, when oral contraceptives were introduced. So did Lysol work? Nope. A study showed that 250 out of 507 women using the disinfectant got pregnant, which was about the same as those using no birth control at all. What’s worse, Lysol usage as contraceptive could cause severe inflammation, burning, and even death, in several cases.