The Fresh Loaf

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Does use of dettol on work surfaces kill off yeast?

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lizz1155's picture
lizz1155

Does use of dettol on work surfaces kill off yeast?

Although I've been breadmaking for a while, it occured to me the other day that my excessive use of Dettol (cleaning agent) on work surfaces may be killing off some of the yeasts in the dough during the kneading process.  Do work surface cleaners have the capacity to affect how a loaf turns out? I'm a student, sharing a kitchen with seven others, so to some extent Dettol is the only way to maintain a standard of hygiene suitable for baking in there.

flournwater's picture
flournwater

Inasmuch as disinfectants will destroy mold it is reasonable to assume that its residue on a surface would affect your yeast.  However, once disinfected, your surfaces can be rinsed thoroughly using a clean towel/cloth and very hot water to minimize the influence of the disinfectant.

copyu's picture
copyu

but it seems that Dettol's 'antiseptic' properties are based on around 5% (depending on the country of manufacture) undecylenic acid (also known as 'chloro-xylenol') and is recommended for treatment of fungal infections such as "athletes' foot" and "ring-worm" as well as preventing bacterial infection...that's news to me! I thought it was just for killing bacteria, but it should kill or slow down yeasts, molds and so on, pretty well. I'd keep it out of the 'bakery' (except for dressing wounds--Heheheh!) I'm surprised that the strong smell of Dettol doesn't put you off, though!

When I get 'germophobic' (very rarely) I use a spray of "Dover Pasteurizer 77" which is mostly pure alcohol and it's claimed that it can be sprayed directly on cutting boards, table-ware, cutlery, food processing machines and any type of foodstuff [!?] (which I've never tried, but what the hey? It's odorless and mostly ethyl alcohol and evaporates very quickly! Yay!) Sounds like a good way to handle strawberries, mushrooms, radishes, etc, if you're really worried about botulism or molds...there's no way it will kill spores, of course...it's just a 'quick fix' for the time before preparation, serving and cooking of foods and, perhaps, between switching the use of your cutting boards, counter-top, knives and utensils. You can always rinse the foods in clean water (after spraying them to kill the "nasties") if you don't want to serve the 'pasteurizer' on fresh or raw foods.

I generally use it on the kitchen surfaces after cutting a lot of steaks or tying a number of roasts for freezing. It seems to work and the local bakers' supply shops tout it as being very good for 'bakery hygiene'...but they ARE selling the stuff, not giving it away! Just a few thoughts...

Best,

Adam      

 

 

ejm's picture
ejm

I'm with Adam here. Dettol stinks!! If I were you, I would be much more inclined to use white vinegar to clean the work surfaces. Some people say to make a solution of water and vinegar but I use it undiluted for cleaning all our boards and counters.

-Elizabeth

 

lizz1155's picture
lizz1155

Many thanks for all your wisdom :) It's Dettol "surface cleanser" rather than regular dettol which must be diluted; the smell is negligable (luckily!).

copyu's picture
copyu

Glad to hear that!

Shortly after I'd posted my response, I found a bottle of regular 'Dettol' and popped one capful (about 30ml) into the bath-tub, just as recommended on the label. I'm in Japan, where we have much shorter, much wider and much deeper bath-tubs than most other places. [We wash and rinse our bodies BEFORE entering the bath, so the water remains in the tub for several days. We have very sophisticated re-heating systems here...] Despite over-flows, and repeated topping-up and re-heating of the bathwater, I could still smell the Dettol in the bath a few days later from 4 metres down the hall, any time of day or night

Any info on what the formula of the 'Dettol' surface cleanser contains would be nice to know, when you get some time...I could google it, too, I suppose...

Cheers,

Adam

lizz1155's picture
lizz1155

I've been using this stuff: http://www.dettol.co.uk/products-for-your-home-kitchen-surface-cleanser-trigger

According to the bottle, it's 0.07% benzalkonium chloride (a biocide) along with <5% "nonionic surfactant" which I assume is a way of saying "soap".  To me is still confusing, since the bottle only states the presence of an biocides, but claims to kill of virus' too. And I have no idea what this would do to yeast.

 

copyu's picture
copyu

The active ingredient is quite common stuff and has been around for a long time. It's considered very safe for surface treatment and is used in a lot of body care products without problems.

From Wikipedia: "Benzalkonium chloride solutions are fast-acting biocidal agents with a moderately long duration of action. They are active against bacteria and some viruses, fungi, and protozoa. Bacterial spores are considered to be resistant."

Looks like bad news for yeasts, to me, but I'd continue using it, if my fellow kitchen-users were not so fussy about hygiene. It should kill off the nasties and it would be easily rinsed off with regular tap-water...it should make ZERO difference to your bread-baking, if you're reasonably careful.

One simple idea is to keep a dedicated pastry board made of some hard-wood (mine, I think, is made of alder) and it's used only for kneading and shaping dough and rolling-out any type of pastry. I occasionally run a little water over the used side, if it gets spots of flour/dough and polish it up immediately with paper towels. It's well-oiled with mineral oil (or butcher-block oil; unscented 'baby oil' is the same thing) and occasionally rubbed with a food-grade wax (sold as "salad bowl finish")

Cheers,

Adam