Frequently Asked Questions

It is true that DMSO readily penetrates skin?

This is not a unique property of DMSO. the rate of skin penetration is virtually the same as that of NMP and similar to that of other dipolar aprotic solvents. In fact, most solvents penetrate human skin at a measurable rate. proper industrial hygiene should be practiced when working with all solvents.


DMSO has a relatively high freezing point. This may make it hard to handle in the plant.

This problem may be managed in several ways.

  • Thawing the product prior to use. Gaylord provides guidance on thawing DMSO with common band heaters.  In some cases, arrangements can be made to deliver bulk product in a molten state.
  • When formulated with other solvents, the freezing point of the mixture is often reduced. Water is a particularly good freezing point depressant; If the finished product can tolerate 5-10 wt% water, the freezing point of the mixture is reduced to below that of water itself.


DMSO is a VOC Volatile Organic Compound. I have limits on VOC content in my finished product.

Although DMSO is indeed a VOC, this is also true for almost all useful cleaning solvents. In many
cases the overall VOC content of a finished product may be managed using a few VOC-exempt


DMSO looks promising as a cleaning solvent, but I would like to see an increase in performance.

Often formulation with other cosolvents / additives is the answer. Gaylord can provide lab support to identify promising candidate mixtures.


The cost of DMSO is high, relative to other common industrial cleaning solvents.

Relative to other solvents in its class – NMP, DMF, and DMAc- it is intermediate in price. In some
cases the overall cost and performance of a cleaning formulation can be optimized by using DMSO as
a cosolvent in a mixture. A small amount of DMSO may greatly increase the solvent performance seen
with a less effective, but less expensive, solvent.


Is DMSO a safe solvent?

DMSO is the only dipolar aprotic solvent rated ‖3‖ (safest) for pharmaceutical applications by the International Conference for Harmonization (ICH). In fact, DMSO is virtually non-toxic by every avenue of administration (oral, inhalation and dermal), has low aquatic toxicity and is biodegradable.