Phenol (carbolic acid) is a naturally occuring aromatic compound produced by some plant species.

Phenolics are chemically modified phenol-containing compounds containing halogen or other functional groups.

Bisphenolics contain two phenol rings, such as orthophenylphenol (Lysol), trichlosan and hexachlorophene (PhisoHex).

Chlorhexidine is a nonphenolic alternative to hexachlorophene, which was found to cause brain damage in infants.

Phenol and phenolic compounds are broad-spectrum, low- to intermediate-type disinfectants that disrupt cell membranes and denature proteins.  They are effective even in contact with organic compounds such as saliva, pus, vomit and feces and remain active and stable on the surface of fomites for long periods of time.

These compounds are, however, caustic to skin and mucus membranes in concentrations higher than ~1% and have a disagreeable odor.