Antibacterial vs Antimicrobial: Understanding the Difference

Read Time: 6 minutes

The terms antibacterial and antimicrobial are used all the time – sometimes interchangeably. However, there are important differences between the two. Antibacterial and antimicrobial products provide different levels of cleanliness through a variety of products. Let’s take a closer look at these definitions as well as antimicrobial and antibacterial products so that you can make better-informed decisions when shopping for personal care products and cleaning supplies.

What Does Antibacterial Mean?

Antibacterial means “defending against life-giving things.” It refers to the process of killing or inactivating bacteria alone. Antibacterial products can be used to protect people from infection by harmful bacteria, but will not impact or prevent the transmission of other types of microorganisms.

What Does Antimicrobial Mean?

Antimicrobial is the term used to describe a substance that kills, inactivates, or otherwise prevents the growth of microorganisms. Antimicrobial quite literally means “against living microorganisms” meaning these types of products can be used to protect people from infection from harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Antimicrobial products eliminate these dangerous microorganisms as well as prevent their return.

Microorganisms are small organisms that can live on people’s skin, surfaces, and basically anywhere else. Microorganisms are found all around us and can cause illness or infection by entering the body. Antimicrobial products work by eliminating these small organisms before they can cause harm.

What Is The Difference Between Antimicrobial And Antibacterial?

There are many similarities between antimicrobials and antibacterials. They both refer to substances that kill microorganisms; they both work on surfaces like skin or household objects; they have similar uses including preventing infections.

The main difference between the two comes down to how these terms are applied – an antimicrobial refers to killing microorganisms like viruses and parasites in addition to bacteria, while antibacterial refers specifically to killing just bacterial cells. This does not mean an antibacterial product cannot kill other microorganisms, just that it is not specifically designed to do so.

What are Antimicrobial And Antibacterial Products?

Examples of antibacterial products include mild household cleaners and soaps, as well as personal care products. Antimicrobials come in various forms, including liquids, gels, powders, and pre-saturated wipes which can be used for cleaning surfaces or areas that need protection from contaminants. Hand sanitizers are also typically antimicrobial. Antimicrobial products are not specifically designed to only kill bacterial cells, but instead, have a wider spectrum of activity against all harmful microorganisms.

When To Use Antibacterial Products

Antibacterial products should be used when you are cleaning a surface that only needs protection from bacteria. Anything that is handled often or comes in regular contact with people should be cleansed with an antibacterial product at the very least. Antibacterial products are designed primarily for personal use because they kill bacteria on contact when used in the proper formulation.

When To Use Antimicrobial Products

The advantages of using antimicrobial formulations are that they offer a wide range of protection by killing multiple types of microorganisms as well as continuously prevent microbial growth. This characteristic allows them to stop contamination from spreading in the area they were applied. They can also be used against bacterial-resistant “superbugs” by continuously killing new generations of bugs before they get a chance to develop defenses. Where an antibacterial is only reactive, an antimicrobial can be proactive as well.

Goldshield products provide antimicrobial benefits that work overtime. When using Goldshield surface agents, your surfaces remain protected from germs and bacteria for up to 90 days after application, effectively increasing your protection from harmful germs while decreasing the amount of time spent cleaning.

Antimicrobials have long been considered the gold standard for preventing contamination of consumer goods and food products. Aside from home use, antimicrobial products are generally used in larger locations such as restaurants, hotels, and offices. Antimicrobial products are also used in the healthcare industry often due to their wide range of protection and prevention of future contamination.

Are Antibacterials and Antimicrobials Safe?

Antibacterial products are safe to use when the formulation contains a sufficient amount of active ingredients to kill bacteria. Because antibacterial products are generally used for personal products, they are milder and contain fewer harsh ingredients when compared to certain antimicrobial products. Antibacterial products can be used anywhere and everywhere because they only target bacteria which greatly reduces their impact on surfaces, including human skin.

Antimicrobial products may contain harsh chemicals that can negatively affect humans or the environment. It is important to check that your antimicrobial product is safe for regular use and free of dangerous ingredients.

The right antimicrobial products are necessary to maintain a healthy home. Antimicrobials should be used in place of antibacterial products when certain surfaces will come in contact with food or drinks because they will not only kill bacterial but also fungi and viruses as well. When picking out your product, read the labels carefully before use, as some formulas may not be appropriate for certain areas, surfaces, or applications.

Antimicrobials For Covid-19 and Other Viruses

Antimicrobials have always been important, but in the age of Covid-19, they are more vital than ever. Antibacterial products are not effective against viruses, while antimicrobials will kill them. When it comes to viruses, antimicrobials are your best bet when choosing products that can prevent transmission.

Using antimicrobial products such as wipes, foams, and sprays on surfaces as well as antimicrobial hand sanitizer can help prevent the spread of germs and viruses. Antimicrobial products in professional environments can not only fight the spread of pathogens but also provide a sense of reassurance for patrons or employees. Regularly scheduled deep cleanings with antimicrobial products can support healthier staff, services, and overall business.

On your next search for a disinfecting product, consider the effect you are looking for. Remember that milder antibacterial products only kill bacteria, while stronger antimicrobial products can kill microorganisms and prevent them from returning. Weigh the ingredients of the product and the intended uses before committing to one over the other. Both antibacterial and antimicrobial products have a wide range of appropriate uses in the cleaning product realm.

Interested in learning more about the proper cleaning product for your unique needs? Get in touch with a representative today to find out about our full product line of antimicrobial options.

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