Difference between Antiseptic and Disinfectant

Everyone desires to stay healthy and enjoy a life free from illness. Taking a healthy diet and keeping the environment hygienic are the two vital factors you need to enjoy a healthy living. Germs and bacteria are present everywhere around you and they cannot by seen through naked eye. You have to make sure your house, especially the kitchen and eating places, are thoroughly clean and free from any sort of germs. There are many products available in the market which kill illness-causing bacteria and germs. Antiseptics and disinfectants serve the purpose of killing bacteria but there are some differences between these two products which many people don’t know. It is a common misconception that antiseptics and disinfectants are the same thing, which is not the case. The purpose of these two things is pretty similar but they are certainly two separate things.

The word antiseptic came from the Greek language, with ‘anti’ meaning ‘against’ and ‘septikos’ meaning ‘putrefaction’ or ‘putrid’. Antiseptics are actually antimicrobial substances which are applied to skin to minimise the possibilities of infection, sepsis or putrefaction. There are many antiseptics which act as true germicides, killing microbes, whilst most of the antiseptics only prevent the growth of bacteria.

Disinfectants are chemical or physical processes which kill pathogenic organisms in water, air or surfaces. These substances are applied on non-living objects to destroy micro organisms present on them.


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    Antiseptics are basically designed to kill any possible microorganisms on your skin. They are normally used for hand washing or before doctors are to perform a surgery. Antiseptics might not be as strong as disinfectants, as they don’t have enough power to kill most of the bacteria on your skin. However, they prevent their growth and accumulation. Alcohol, chlorhexidine and anilides are some common household antiseptics.

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    Disinfectants are not to be used on your skin but they are designed to kill microorganisms on inorganic household objects and are mainly used in cleaners. These substances destroy the cell wall of microbes or interfere with the metabolism and hence, have strong power to kill most microorganisms. Disinfectants are mainly used for floor cleaning, toilet bowls, kitchen shelves and other household items. Glutaraldehyde, vantocil, phthalaldehyde and formaldehyde are some common disinfectants to be used for household cleaning.

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