Antiseptic vs. Disinfectant: What's the Difference?

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Key Difference

The difference between an antiseptic and a disinfectant is that an antiseptic is a chemical substance that is used to kill germs from living things that is human and animals whereas a disinfectant is a chemical substance that is used to kill bacteria from non-living things.

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Antiseptic vs. Disinfectant

Antiseptics and disinfectants are the most critical things any hospital can have; no hospital is complete without an antiseptic and a disinfectant. They are used for health care for the living and non-living things. There are many chemical agents in the antiseptic and disinfectant products. The example of these chemical agents are alcohols, phenols, iodine and chlorine. These chemical agents are best for antimicrobial activates.  Antiseptic and disinfectant are often confused to be same terms but they are not there is a lot of difference between antiseptics and disinfectants. They are entirely different in the way they are used and the chemicals they have. The chemicals make them different in the form of using human, animals and non-living things. If we talk about antiseptic, it is a medicine that is used to protect human and animal against germs and kill the microorganism in the living body whereas disinfectant is a medicine that is used to clean substance and protect against germs and bacteria.

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The use of antiseptic and disinfectant make them different when human skin is open to wounding it is clean with antiseptics and protect against infection.  Open surfaces are places of bacteria and germs and disinfectant are used to kill germs from surfaces. Disinfectant can be harmful to the human body whereas antiseptic heal wound. Antiseptics are only used for human and animals whereas disinfectants are used only for non-living things such as furniture and other items in the house that are always to open to bacteria and germs. Antiseptics are found in hospitals whereas disinfectants are found in homes and hospitals. Mouthwash and cold sore are most common antiseptics whereas cleaning products are typical examples of disinfectants. Disinfectants clean products and kill all germs from that place or product whereas antiseptics heal the wounds because wounds are open to bacteria and germs. Antiseptics transport through the lymphatic system and kill all bacteria in the human body whereas disinfectant is antimicrobial agents they work by destroying the cell wall with the metabolism. There are no harmful effects of antiseptics on the human body whereas disinfectants can be toxic to the human body.

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Comparison Chart

Basis Antiseptic Disinfectant 
Meaning An antiseptic is used to kill germs for living things that are human and animals.Disinfectant is used to kill germs for non-living things. 
Presence Commonly found in hospitals.Commonly found in houses.
FunctionAntiseptics transport through the lymphatic system and kill all bacteria in the human bodyDisinfectant is antimicrobial agents they work by destroying the cell wall with the metabolism.
HarmAntiseptic is not harmful.Disinfectant is harmful to human and animals.
ExampleMouthwashDettol

 What is Antiseptic?

An antiseptic is used to kill germs for living things that are human and animals. An antimicrobial substance that is most commonly used to heal wounds is known as antiseptic. When human or animal skin is open to wounding it get the risk of infections and germs, antiseptic protects the skin from the infections. Antiseptics transport through the lymphatic system and kill all bacteria in the human body. We usually see antiseptics in healthcare centres and hospitals.  Following are some types of antiseptics:

  • Alcohol Antiseptics

Alcohol antiseptics are very common; they are used to sterilise the medical equipment, they also used as disinfect skin tissues before injections. Hand sanitizers are a typical example of alcohol antiseptics.

  • Chlorhexidine Antiseptics

Chlorhexidine antiseptics are oral antiseptic taken in lower concentration. Mouthwash solutions are one of the most common examples of chlorhexidine antiseptics. It is used to heal oral wounds.

  • Quaternary Ammonium Compound Antiseptics

Quaternary ammonium compound antiseptics is a group of chemicals used to aid the sterilisation of skin before surgery. Eye drops are a typical example of quaternary ammonium compound antiseptics.

  • Peroxygen Antiseptics

Hydrogen peroxide is used commonly in the house for cleaning wound; hydrogen peroxide is called peroxygen antiseptics. A peroxygen antiseptic can also be used as mouthwash.

What is Disinfectant?

Disinfectant is used to kill germs for non-living things. Microorganisms are living on the furniture and household items; disinfectant is an antimicrobial substance used to kill microorganism living on the furniture and household items. Disinfectant is antimicrobial agents they work by destroying the cell wall with the metabolism. Disinfectants are harmful to human and animals.  There are two types of disinfectants that are

  • Oxidizing disinfectant

Oxidizing disinfectant destroy all micro-organism, examples of oxidising disinfectant are:

  • Sodium hypochlorite
  • Chlorine dioxide
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Peracetic acid
  • Non-Oxidizing Disinfectant

Non-Oxidizing disinfectants are more stable in their actions, examples of non-oxidizing disinfectant are:

  • Quaternary Ammonium Compounds
  • Traimines
  • Biguanides
  • Alcohols

Key Differences

  1. An antiseptic is used to kill germs for living things that are human and animals whereas Disinfectant is used to kill bacteria for non-living things.
  2. An antiseptic is commonly found in hospitals whereas a disinfectant is frequently found in houses.
  3. Antiseptics transport through the lymphatic system and kill all bacteria in the human body whereas the function of disinfectant is that disinfectant is antimicrobial agents they work by destroying the cell wall with the metabolism.
  4. Antiseptic is not harmful whereas disinfectant is harmful to human and animals.
  5. Example of an antiseptic is mouthwash whereas an instance of a disinfectant is Dettol.

 Conclusion

Many people get confused between the terms antiseptic and disinfectant; this article clearly distinguishes both terms.

Explanatory Video

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