Antiseptic vs. Disinfectant

By Jaxson

Main Difference

The main difference between Antiseptic and Disinfectant is that the Antiseptic is a antimicrobial substance and Disinfectant is a antimicrobial agent that is applied to non-living objects (compare: antisepsis) to reduce the number of microorganisms (unwanted germs and parasites) on them (compare:sterilization)

  • Antiseptic

    Antiseptics (from Greek ἀντί anti, “against” and σηπτικός sēptikos, “putrefactive”) are antimicrobial substances that are applied to living tissue/skin to reduce the possibility of infection, sepsis, or putrefaction. Antiseptics are generally distinguished from antibiotics by the latter’s ability to be transported through the lymphatic system to destroy bacteria within the body, and from disinfectants, which destroy microorganisms found on non-living objects.

    Some antiseptics are true germicides, capable of destroying microbes (bacteriocidal), while others are bacteriostatic and only prevent or inhibit their growth.

    Antibacterials are antiseptics that have the proven ability to act against bacteria. Microbicides which destroy virus particles are called viricides or antivirals.

  • Disinfectant

    Disinfectants are antimicrobial agents that are applied to the surface of non-living objects to destroy microorganisms that are living on the objects. Disinfection does not necessarily kill all microorganisms, especially resistant bacterial spores; it is less effective than sterilization, which is an extreme physical and/or chemical process that kills all types of life. Disinfectants are different from other antimicrobial agents such as antibiotics, which destroy microorganisms within the body, and antiseptics, which destroy microorganisms on living tissue. Disinfectants are also different from biocides — the latter are intended to destroy all forms of life, not just microorganisms.

    Disinfectants work by destroying the cell wall of microbes or interfering with their metabolism.

    Sanitizers are substances that simultaneously clean and disinfect. Disinfectants are frequently used in hospitals, dental surgeries, kitchens, and bathrooms to kill infectious organisms.

    Bacterial endospores are most resistant to disinfectants, but some viruses and bacteria also possess some tolerance.

    In wastewater treatment, a disinfection step with chlorine, ultra-violet (UV) radiation or ozonation can be included as tertiary treatment to remove pathogens from wastewater, for example if it is to be reused to irrigate golf courses. An alternative term used in the sanitation sector for disinfection of waste streams, sewage sludge or fecal sludge is sanitisation or sanitization.

  • Antiseptic (adjective)

    Of, or relating to antisepsis, or the use of antiseptics.

  • Antiseptic (adjective)

    Capable of preventing microbial infection.

  • Antiseptic (adjective)

    Very clean; aseptic.

  • Antiseptic (adjective)

    Free of unpleasantness; sanitized or bowdlerized.

  • Antiseptic (noun)

    Any substance that inhibits the growth and reproduction of microorganisms. Generally includes only those that are used on living objects (as opposed to disinfectants) and aren’t transported by the lymphatic system to destroy bacteria in the body (as opposed to antibiotics).

  • Disinfectant (adjective)

    Serving to kill germs or viruses.

    “I washed repeatedly with a disinfectant soap but I still caught the flu.”

  • Disinfectant (noun)

    A germs and/or viruses.

    “The scalpels were soaked in disinfectant before the operation so disease wouldn’t be spread.”

  • Disinfectant (noun)

    a chemical liquid that destroys bacteria

    “all surfaces are cleaned manually or by pressure washer with disinfectant”

    “a cat won’t use its litter box if it’s cleaned with smelly disinfectants”

  • Disinfectant (adjective)

    causing disinfection

    “cleansing and disinfectant products”

Oxford Dictionary

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