When the product first came out in the 1920s, it was marketed as a feminine hygiene product and, we kid you not, a form of birth control by way of vaginal douching. Lysol ads proclaimed a plethora of benefits for pretty much every gynecological need, making claims that were 100 percent, natural horseshit. The ads were, however, backed up by a bunch of prominent European doctors no one had ever heard about (because they were completely made up). The American Medical Association eventually called the makers of Lysol out, but by then their product had already been the leading form of female birth control from 1930 to 1960.
The Distraction Blog
Modern ladies, did you know that Lysol stops ghosts from cockblocking you?
The obvious problem that somehow got completely ignored for decades was that Lysol is very much a caustic poison. If you apply it to your skin, which more or less all the women were doing for freaking 30 years, it burns and itches like there is no tomorrow. Which they of course attempted to cure by applying more Lysol. Which got exactly as ugly as you imagine, to the point where words like "severe inflammation" and "fatal" get thrown around.
After the AMA finally put the cork on the genital Lysol, what was left of the company was acquired by Sterling Drug in 1967. The new owners took a look at what had been going on and, presumably after some violent retching, decided to actually take the product's beneficial side (being a kind of good, if poisonous, disinfectant) and apply it to uses it was best suited for (anything that is not a living thing, and especially not a vagina). Lysol found a new life as a cleaner and disinfectant, and scores of confused women found themselves living in a world where they suddenly had to clean floors with something they had been using to clean something else altogether for years. Something that was now clearly marked as being highly toxic.
Ads from 1940s Look Magazine
Lysol's marketing team would go on to successfully promote Chesterfield cigarettes and the Ford Pinto.