Is Jeyes fluid biodegradable?

  • By: greenorb
  • Date: December 20, 2021
  • Time to read: 4 min.

If you have found yourself with a mammoth cleaning task ahead of you, you might have reached for a can of Jeyes fluid before asking yourself- is Jeyes fluid biodegradable? 

According to the European Commission (EC), Jeyes fluid complies with the standard biodegradability criteria, so technically will breakdown over time.

However, Jeyes fluid isn’t always the safest option and can have an impact on our health. 

We’ve got all the answers for you about Jeyes fluid and its impact on us, our pets, and the environment.

What is Jeyes fluid?

Jeyes fluid has been a well-established staple in the UK since it was first granted a royal warrant in 1896. Incredibly, when first introduced it was used in baths to treat patients with diseases like Dropsy and Scarlet Fever.

Nowadays, Jeyes fluid is primarily used as a potent outdoor cleaner, where it makes cleaning patios, paths, drains, and decking a breeze.

The Jeyes website advertises it as a great product to use when cleaning and disinfecting plant pots, gardening tools, water butts, and animal housing. 

Until 2013 it was also advertised for use in soil disinfection, but this claim was removed from their website following a safety review.

Is Jeyes fluid biodegradable?

The latest Jeyes Safety Data (JSD) was published in 2013 and covers all aspects of Jeyes fluid safety.

They conclude that the type of surfactant used in Jeyes fluid is compliant with the EC No. 648/2004 criteria for detergent biodegradability. 

Surfactants are essentially a chemical that allows solids and liquids to combine, making it an ideal type of chemical to use in detergents and emulsifiers.

Just because something does biodegrade over time- it doesn’t mean it is environmentally friendly. So, let’s talk about the environmental impact of Jeyes fluid.

Is Jeyes fluid environmentally friendly?

The 2013 JSD stated that Jeyes fluid was not considered to be harmful to the environment, but this was retracted in a 2014 revision of the safety data.

Jeyes fluid is now considered to be extremely toxic to plants, soil, animals, and aquatic environments with serious long-lasting effects.

Despite the hazard to aquatic animals, Jeyes is safe to use as an outdoor drain cleaner because these flow into water treatment facilities where residual harmful chemicals are filtered out.

Jeyes fluid has been found to be seriously harmful to all animals, including pets, and is particularly hazardous to cats due to high levels of tar acids (more on that later).

Jeyes themselves say that all of their products should be kept away from pets, and where areas have been treated with Jeyes (for example inside kennels or outdoor cages) then pets should be strictly kept away until the area is completely dry.

How do you dispose of Jeyes Fluid?

The 2013 JSD specifies that disposal of waste and residues from Jeyes fluid should be done in accordance with the requirements of local authorities.

To do this, you will have to contact your local recycling center, dump, or local government waste management organization.

Explain to them that you have Jeyes fluid you want to get rid of and they will help you responsibly dispose of it.

Is it illegal to use Jeyes fluid?

For over a hundred years, Jeyes fluid has been marketed and used as a soil sterilizer. Following the revisions to the Jeyes safety information in 2013, Jeyes decided to no longer apply for a license to manufacture and sell a soil sterilizer.

This means that using Jeyes fluid as an off-label soil sterilizer is technically illegal- but that doesn’t stop people from doing it.

People sterilize their soil to try and offset the bacteria that may be living in the manure they put on their flower and vegetable plants. Nowadays, Jeyes is only legally permitted for use as a hard surface disinfectant.

Is Jeyes fluid dangerous?

Yes, it can be. The revised JSD highlights that Jeyes fluid is toxic if swallowed, harmful to the skin, can trigger allergic reactions, and can cause serious eye damage. 

Although Jeyes fluid is non-combustible, if it becomes too warm it releases toxic vapors which are very harmful if inhaled.

Jeyes fluid is made of several dangerous chemicals including tar acids (which poison cats even at very low doses), p-chlorocresol (a paint and ink preservative), and isopropanol (also used in glues and rubbing alcohols).

Jeyes recommend always wearing gloves and eye protection when using Jeyes fluid, as well as ensuring the area is properly ventilated.


Jeyes fluid is a firm favorite of gardeners across the world, and for years it has proven itself as a useful addition to any garden shed. 

Although it is technically biodegradable, there are a lot of risks associated with its use so you have to be careful with it, and especially careful when you are disposing of it.

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