Difference between an Antiseptic and a Disinfectant

June 28, 2017 by Editorial Team

As popular antimicrobial solutions, antiseptics and disinfectants play an important role in preventing infection. However, they are far from being interchangeable. This article provides information on the differences between the two.

Definitions

An antiseptic is an antimicrobial substance applied to open wounds. Used to lessen risks for infection and to minimize the possibility of other complications, an antiseptic has medicinal properties that are capable of entering the lymphatic system and destroying bacteria within the body.

Antiseptics are is found in healthcare centers and hospitals. They are commonly used to cleanse wounds or to prepare a site before an injection or a surgical procedure. Also, antiseptics can be used to disinfect instruments and furniture surfaces.

disinfectant

A disinfectant, on the other hand, is an antimicrobial substance used to kill the microorganisms thriving on surfaces of furniture and other household items. It works by destroying the cell wall or interfering with the metabolism of the microbes.

Despite its efficiency in warding off bacteria, a disinfectant is potentially harmful to humans or animals and should never be mixed with other cleaning products. Disinfectants are commonly used on household items in order to prevent germs, viruses, and bacteria from spreading and multiplying.

Comparison

Firstly, antiseptics are used for either humans or animals, while disinfectants are used for non-living things such as furniture sets and other household items.

It follows, therefore, that antiseptics are commonly found in healthcare centers or hospitals while disinfectants are found at home or in public places. Common antiseptics include mouthwash and cold sore and yeast infection treatment creams. Disinfectants, on the other hand, include cleaning products for houses and public places.

Antiseptics and disinfectants also play roles in warding off infection. The former prevents infections and possible complications by acting as a cleansing agent for wounds and surgical sites, while the latter kills microorganisms living on the surface of non-living things.

Antiseptics have the ability to transport through the lymphatic system and destroy bacteria within the human body. Disinfectants, by contrast, act as an antimicrobial agent by destroying the cell wall or interfering with the metabolism of microbes thriving on the surface of tangible objects.

Most importantly, an antiseptic does not pose health threats because it is formulated to protect the body from infection. Meanwhile, a disinfectant is harmful to humans and cannot be used for the same purpose.

Finally, an antiseptic is considered safer than a disinfectant, and it can also be used to kill microbes on surfaces of furniture sets and non-living things.

Comparison Chart

Antiseptic

Disinfectant

Used for humans and animals

Used for non-living things like furniture and other household items

Commonly found in healthcare centers or hospitals

Commonly found in homes or public places

Cleanses wounds and surgical sites to prevent infection and other complications

Kills microorganisms on the surface of non-living things

Includes mouthwash and cold sore and yeast infection treatment creams

Includes cleaning products for houses and public places

Transports through the lymphatic system and destroys bacteria within the human body

Destroys the cell wall of microorganisms or interferes with the metabolism of microbes thriving on the surface of tangible objects

Not harmful to humans and animals

Harmful to humans and animals