Difference between an Antiseptic and a Disinfectant

By: | Updated: Dec-5, 2017

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.

Summary Table

AntisepticDisinfectant
Used for humans and animalsUsed for non-living things like furniture and other household items
Commonly found in healthcare centers or hospitalsCommonly found in homes or public places
Cleanses wounds and surgical sites to prevent infection and other complicationsKills microorganisms on the surface of non-living things
Includes mouthwash and cold sore and yeast infection treatment creamsIncludes cleaning products for houses and public places
Transports through the lymphatic system and destroys bacteria within the human bodyDestroys the cell wall of microorganisms or interferes with the metabolism of microbes thriving on the surface of tangible objects
Not harmful to humans and animalsHarmful to humans and animals

Definitions

Antiseptic

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.

Antiseptic vs Disinfectant

So what’s the difference between an antiseptic and a disinfectant?

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.

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