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Discover the Difference between Antibacterial and Antimicrobial

By October 26, 2020January 10th, 2023Health & Safety, Medical & Healthcare
Graphical Image of antibacterial versus antimicrobial

Now that we are coming up on cold and flu season, it’s important to know how to best stay safe and healthy this fall and winter. An easy way to do this is to use the right products that will keep you safe from germs. Knowing what products kill bacteria, viruses, parasites, or fungi will aid you when purchasing soap and hand sanitizer as well and cleaning and office supplies. I’m sure you’ve seen various products that say they are antibacterial or antimicrobial – but what exactly does that mean?

When I first saw these terms, I thought they were similar, if not, interchangeable from each other, but it turns out they are different and it’s important to know these differences. Buyers, like yourself, are more aware of what cleaning supplies, as well as soap and sanitizer, they are buying so it’s just as important to know what these products are actually reducing or killing. So what is the difference between antimicrobial and antibacterial?



What does antimicrobial mean and how does it help keep you safe from germs? Antimicrobial products slow or kill the spread of microorganisms. But what exactly is a microorganism? Bacteria, viruses, parasites, algae, and fungi are all microorganisms. Antimicrobial products are great to use in schools, offices and hospitals, where hygiene is really important. Update your home or building with antimicrobial chairs, keyboards, file folders and binders. Another great antimicrobial product is the BIC® Prevaguard Antimicrobial Click Stic® Pen that suppresses the growth of bacteria, algae, fungus, mold and mildew. Replacing high touch supplies and surfaces like these with antimicrobial options wherever possible is a great way to reduce the spread of bacteria and viruses. Especially with cold and flu season right around the corner it’s important to have products that will help keep you healthy.


Hand Sanitizer

Preventing the growth and spread of bacteria is what makes a product antibacterial. So, when you see that a soap, house cleaner or hand sanitizer is antibacterial that means it will help remove bacteria on whatever surface it is used on and suppress it from growing. Washing your hands with antibacterial soap will remove bacteria from your hands and also stop it from growing, leaving you with cleaner hands. When you are unable to wash your hands, antibacterial hand sanitizer is the best option to rid your hands of bacteria. There are also cleaning supplies that are antibacterial that can be used around the house or office building. Remember though, these products do not remove viruses, algae, or fungi.

Now that you have a general understanding of the differences between antimicrobial and antibacterial, you can purchase these products with ease by knowing what makes the most sense for you and your health.


1. William C. Shiel Jr., MD. “Definition of Antibacterial.” MedicineNet, MedicineNet, 27 Dec. 2018, ( Accessed 20 October 2020.

2. “Antibacterial vs Antimicrobial, Definitions & Explanations.” Microban, ( Accessed 20 October 2020.