The primary use of phenol is in the production of phenolic resins, which are used in the plywood, construction, automotive, and appliance industries. It is also used in the production of caprolactam and bisphenol A, which are intermediates in the manufacture of nylon and epoxy resins, respectively.
Approximately two-third of the total phenol produced worldwide is used to prepare reagents used in plastic manufacturing industries.
Other uses of phenol include as a slimicide, as a disinfectant, and in medicinal products such as ear and nose drops, throat lozenges, and mouthwashes. It is also used in the study and extraction of bio-molecules. Molecular biology finds application of phenol in the extraction of nucleic acids from tissue samples for further investigations.
Phenol is also used in cosmetic industry in the manufacturing of sunscreens, hair dyes, skin lightening creams and hair coloring solutions. It is a major component of the phenolic adhesives used in wood products such as plywood and oriented strand board which are used in the molding of heat-resistant components for household appliances, counter-tops and flooring laminates, and foundry castings. In addition, it is a valuable intermediate in the manufacture of detergents, agricultural chemicals, medicines, plasticizers, and dyes.