Difference between Antiseptic and Disinfectant

Antiseptic and disinfectant

 Antiseptics and disinfectants are both terminologies are related to microbiology. Both of them are chemicals thoroughly used to stop or reduce microbial growth and thereby eliminate the risk of spreading of infections and diseases, as well as to prevent contaminations. In chemistry some chemicals belong to both categories which clears that the difference does not depend on the chemical structure but the application.[wp_ad_camp_1]


These are chemicals whose function is to devastate microorganisms on living tissue/body. This is useful in stopping infection sepsis “wounds from getting worst” with many other microbial infections. Antiseptics work against bacteria, fungi and a wide range of organisms. Depending on the application, they are categorized as antibacterial, antifungal etc. Some antiseptics can completely destroy microorganisms, and some can only stop growth or multiplication. Antiseptics were first developed by Joseph Lister with a function in surgical processes upon noticing that people die after surgery, because of surgery infections and diseases. Louis Pasteur also worked on the same field and introduced many modifications.[wp_ad_camp_1]

Alcohol which is also known as surgical spirit is famous among many common antiseptics and is one of the first ever antiseptics used. Another on is Boric acid which is used for vaginal yeast infections and in eyewash whereas Hydrogen peroxide is used to clean wounds, Iodine is mostly used in hospitals for pre and post-surgery cleansing. Sodium chloride, sodium carbonate, phenols, and many others are also used as antiseptics. One vital feature that antiseptics should hold is to be harmless or do minimal damage to live tissue. If the antiseptic damages human body it should not be used excessively.


Most of the chemicals are from the class of disinfectants. Disinfectants are used to destroy microorganisms on non-living surfaces and objects. Disinfectants can destroy bacteria or fungi by interfering with their metabolism or by disrupting cell walls. These are thoroughly used in hospitals, surgery rooms, kitchens and bathrooms where microorganisms can grow quickly and spread diseases usually. Ideal disinfectant tends to fully sterilize a surface but it can’t be done always. When such type of chemicals are used some microorganisms shows resistance against them and this make the situation even worse. Therefore, sometimes the concentrations used may have to be elevated.

Alcohols, aldehydes, oxidizing agents, and household bleach are one of the most common disinfectants. Iodine, ozone, silver, and copper salts are disinfectants all depending upon there functions. UV rays are also used as a disinfectant when disinfectant must be applied without wetting a surface or when constant disinfection is required. As compared to antiseptics disinfectants are quite harsh because they have to work on surfaces with many kinds of microorganisms. Disinfectants are usually known as broad- spectrum cleaners because of this very reason. They are very strong chemicals, and they cannot be used as an alternate of antiseptics in almost all situations because they are toxic and damage living tissues.

Main difference between Antiseptic and Disinfectant:


  • Antiseptics are used to destroy microorganisms on living tissues while disinfectants are used to destroy microorganisms on surfaces and non-living objects.

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