Methylisothiazolinone – hard to pronounce and even harder on you

Methylisothiazolinone, or MI, is an industrial biocide found in paints, glues and cleaning products to stop the growth of bacteria– but have you ever stopped to consider this chemical might be found in more than16% of products you use at home every day?
Despite its origins, MI is one of the most commonly used cosmetic preservatives on the Australian market and families may be unknowingly using products containing MI every day. Common products, even those labelled as “gentle” and “sensitive”, are known to contain MI such as baby wipes, shampoo, dishwashing liquid and laundry detergent.

So why is it a problem?
MI is approved by the Therapeutic Goods Association to be used in commercial products if the concentration is less than 0.0015%. The small dose may seem harmless, but in 2013 MI was labelled as “contact allergen of the year” with reports of allergic reactions tripling in just two short years. MI allergies are common and even in small amounts exposure may lead to significant allergic reactions, skin sensitisation and in extreme cases may lead to chemical burns and lung toxicity in high doses.

“So what can I do to help my family”, I hear you say?
If someone in your family has an unexplained rash, a simple check of your household products can help identify if any items they use contain MI. If you find an MI product they may have come in contact with, stop using it immediately and see if you can replace it with a MI-free alternative. Let your family know about the risks of MI and remember when shopping to check the product ingredients to make sure you’re choosing an MI-free option for your family. If skin irritations still persist, please contact your GP for advice.

Contributed by Courtney Talbot


  1. Great post Courtney. Something I had never heard about before, yet upon a very quick search, something that is in lots of products that I use at home and on the kids. I’m going to buy alternatives and hopefully my child wont be so itchy/scratchy!

  2. After reading your post Courtney i went through my products and found numerous items including sensitive skin wipes, detergent and laundry liquid all containing MI. I find it troubling what is legally available for consumption considering the ongoing concerns over the burden of increasing health care costs and the personal and societal implications of ill health.

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