Benzalkonium chlorides (BACs) are chemicals with widespread applications due to their broad-spectrum antimicrobial properties against bacteria, fungi, and viruses. This review provides an overview of the market for BACs, as well as regulatory measures and available data on safety, toxicity, and environmental contamination. We focus on the effect of frequent exposure of microbial communities to BACs and the potential for cross-resistant phenotypes to emerge. Toward this goal, we review BAC concentrations in consumer products, their correlation with the emergence of tolerance in microbial populations, and the associated risk potential. Our analysis suggests that the ubiquitous and frequent use of BACs in commercial products can generate selective environments that favor microbial phenotypes potentially cross-resistant to a variety of compounds. An analysis of benefits versus risks should be the guidepost for regulatory actions regarding compounds such as BACs.