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Difference Between Antiseptics and Disinfectants

difference between antiseptics and disinfectants
HWC Team
March14/ 2016


People often tend to confuse between an antiseptic and a disinfectant. Both can be used in cleaning and sanitation purpose, yet they are different from each other on various aspects. However, most people are unaware of these points of differences between these two, and tend to replace one by the other. It is important though to know about their differences, so that you can select the most appropriate one for the purpose of use. Here are some of the most important differences between an antiseptic and a disinfectant, so that you do not confuse between them again.

Differences Between Antiseptics and Disinfectants

The basic differences between an antiseptic and a disinfectant are enlisted below.

  • As far as similarities go, both disinfectant and antiseptics are capable of eliminating the micro-organisms which are capable of causing diseases. However, other than this, they differ in various ways. The first difference between the two lies in their usages, whereas disinfectants are used to clean and sanitize surfaces, antiseptics are used on wounds for the same purpose. And since the antiseptics are used on living skin and tissue it is milder in comparison to disinfectants which are stronger since their application is limited to the surfaces.
  • The use of disinfectant is aimed at cleaning surfaces so that there are no germs. A similar job is performed by antiseptics on the skin or the wound. But disinfectant is supposed to kill all living organism which are to be found on the surfaces, while antiseptic kills the harmful micro organisms in and around the affected area. It does not necessary kill all types of micro organisms that are found in the skin. However, both of these solutions are used in order to stop the spreading of germs.
  • Antiseptics are generally believed to be milder and safer than disinfectants; therefore it can be safely used near eyes, inside mouth, etc. Antiseptics are commonly found in mouthwashes, mouth sore treatments, eyewashes and such other things. Disinfectants, on the other hand are harsher and used in floor cleaners, toilet cleaners etc among other things. Along with regular household items, both disinfectants and antiseptics can be found in products to be used in sterilized medical facilities.
  • The function of an antiseptic and a disinfectant is similar in nature. When applied to the organism, they both penetrate its cell walls, and generally destroy the cell membrane. However, their action really depends upon the purpose for which they are used.
  • Disinfectant is generally used when sterilization does not work anymore. In medical facilities different ways of sterilization is generally used, like heat and radiation among other things. But outside medical facilities, such sterilization procedure hardly works, and in such cases, disinfectants are used. This is not the case for antiseptics, for there is not any sort of sterilization that can prevent wounds from happening.

Thus knowing the basic difference between antiseptic and disinfectant, you will be able to use them properly as needed.

HWC Team

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