Clorox is voluntarily recalling about 37 million bottles of scented Pine-Sol because the cleaning products may contain bacteria that can cause serious infections in people with weakened immune systems, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said.
Pine-Sol’s research and development team detected bacteria during a “routine product review,” a Clorox spokeswoman said. She said that Pseudomonas aeruginosa, bacteria broadly found in soil and water, had been identified in “certain recalled products.”
There have been no reports of illness or injury from the recalled products. Clorox said in a statement that it was issuing the recall “in an abundance of caution.”
Experts said that Pseudomonas aeruginosa is not a danger to most people. People who use external medical devices or have compromised immune systems are at heightened risk of infection, Clorox warned.
Here’s what to know about the recall.
Which products are being recalled?
Several varieties of Pine-Sol cleaners produced at a Clorox plant in Forest Park, Ga., between January 2021 and September 2022 are being recalled. The affected bottles have printed codes starting with the prefix “A4,” followed by a five-digit number under 22249, Clorox said.
Pine-scented Pine-Sol products are not included in the recall.
The recall includes the following products: Pine-Sol Scented Multi-Surface Cleaners, in Lavender Clean, Sparkling Wave and Lemon Fresh scents; CloroxPro Pine-Sol All Purpose Cleaners, in Lavender Clean, Sparkling Wave, Lemon Fresh and Orange Energy scents; and Clorox Professional Pine-Sol Lemon Fresh Cleaners.
These products were sold by major national retailers such as Walmart, Sam’s Club, Dollar General, Target, Home Depot, BJ’s, Kroger, Dollar Tree, Lowe’s and Publix, as well as by online retailers, notably Amazon.
What should I do if I bought a recalled product?
Stop using it immediately. Take photos of the codes on the bottle and then discard it. Do not return it to the point of purchase.
Clorox has set up a website where consumers can request refunds. Retailers and distributors can also apply for reimbursement.
What is Pseudomonas aeruginosa?
It’s a type of bacteria that is commonly found in water or soil and can cause infections in the blood or lungs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can be highly resistant to antibiotics.
It can spread easily, including by contact with contaminated hands or by touching surfaces, said Dr. Martin Blaser, the director of the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine at Rutgers University. Most people are exposed to it by consuming it, perhaps by eating a piece of fruit with the bacteria on its skin or by drinking contaminated water, Dr. Blaser said.
Healthy people generally don’t have to worry about Pseudomonas aeruginosa, he said, saying that the risk of infection to the average person was “negligible.”
How common are these infections and what are the risks?
People in hospitals are at greatest risk of infection from exposure to Pseudomonas aeruginosa, including those on ventilators or with catheters, and patients with wounds from surgery or burns, the C.D.C. said.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a “major cause” of lung infection for people with cystic fibrosis, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Dr. Blaser said that people undergoing chemotherapy are also particularly susceptible to infection, which he said could be lethal for them.
“It can cause very severe infections in a relatively limited number of people,” he said.
In 2017, there were about 32,600 Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections among hospitalized patients and an estimated 2,700 deaths in the United States, according to the C.D.C. These infections can be challenging to treat because the bacteria is resistant to nearly all antibiotics.
How can I protect myself?
Practice good hand hygiene and clean surfaces often.
The C.D.C. advises health care facilities to follow guidelines for safe water quality. Steps can include disinfecting sinks and faucets at least daily, storing personal items away from sinks and covering toilets before flushing.