The key difference between antisepsis disinfection and sterilization is that the antisepsis refers to the process of eliminating disease-causing microbes from living surfaces while disinfection refers to the process of eliminating many disease-causing microbes on inanimate objects to prevent them spreading. In contrast, sterilization refers to the complete destruction of all forms of microbial life from a given product or a surface either in the vegetative or spore state.
Microorganisms are omnipresent. Most of them are well adapted to various extreme environments. Therefore, they cause harm to humans and their properties. Since they cause contaminations, infections, and decay, it is necessary to remove or destroy them from materials and areas. Antisepsis, disinfection, and sterilization are three processes that help us to remove or destroy microorganisms.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Antisepsis
3. What is Disinfection
4. What is Sterilization
5. Similarities Between Antisepsis Disinfection and Sterilization
6. Side by Side Comparison – Antisepsis vs Disinfection vs Sterilization in Tabular Form
What is Antisepsis?
Antisepsis is the process of preventing the infection by inhibiting or arresting the growth and multiplication of germs (infectious agents) on living tissues. Antiseptics are the antimicrobial agents used in antisepsis. They reduce the possibility of infection, sepsis, or putrefaction.
Alcohol, boric acid, hydrogen peroxide, sodium chloride and iodine are some examples of antiseptics we use in our day to day life.
What is Disinfection?
Disinfection is the process of destroying harmful pathogens in their vegetative state and reducing the number of microorganisms to a level that no longer poses a threat to human health. The purpose of doing this is to prevent transmission of certain microorganisms to inanimate objects and prevent spreading the infection.
Disinfection process is used in drinking water treatment processes, swimming pools, etc. In addition, pasteurization of milk or food, removal of mold-contaminated building materials, etc. are disinfecting processes.
What is Sterilization?
Sterilization is the process of killing, inactivating or removing all microorganisms from a given product or a surface either in the vegetative or spore state. In other words, sterilization refers to the destruction of all forms of life, including the bacterial spores, viruses, and prions.
Varieties of chemical and physical sterilization methods are available. Heat, chemicals, irradiation, high pressure, and filtration are some of them.
What are Similarities Between Antisepsis Disinfection and Sterilization?
- Antisepsis, Disinfection, and Sterilization kill microorganisms.
- All three methods prevent infections.
- These methods take place every day in laboratories, domestic environments, etc.
- All three processes involve chemicals.
What is the Difference Between Antisepsis Disinfection and Sterilization?
Antisepsis is the process of inhibiting or destroying microorganisms on living tissues including skin, oral cavities, and open wounds. Disinfection is the process of eliminating disease-causing microbial life on inanimate objects. Sterilization, in contrast, is the process of destroying all forms of microbial life from a given product or a surface either in the vegetative or spore state. Most importantly, antisepsis and disinfection no destroy all forms of microbial life whereas sterilization does.
In addition, sterilization destroys spores completely while both antisepsis disinfection may not destroy all spores. Antisepsis is a chemical method whereas disinfection and sterilization can include both chemical and physical methods. Moreover, antisepsis may include the use of ethanol, iodine, hydrogen peroxide, Dettol, boric acid, potassium permanganate. While disinfection may use several methods such as phenolic disinfectants, heavy metals, halogens (e.g. chlorine), bleach, alcohols, hydrogen peroxide, detergents, heating and pasteurization, sterilization uses the methods of heat, chemicals, irradiation, high pressure, and filtration.
Summary – Antisepsis vs Disinfection vs Sterilization
Sterilization is a powerful method which kills all forms of microbial life in areas or on objects. Antisepsis is a process which eliminates microorganisms in living tissues. Disinfection is a process that eliminates microorganisms on inanimate objects. Moreover, sterilization and disinfection operate in chemical or physical modes. However, antisepsis is a chemical process. This is the key difference between antisepsis disinfection and sterilization.
1.”Antiseptics, Disinfectants & Sterilization” Study.com, Available here.
2. Aljasim, Bubbosah. “Sterilization, Disinfection and Antisepsis, Session 1.” LinkedIn SlideShare, 23 Jan. 2016, Available here.
1. “Iodine -1 Mirror Photography” by zeevveez (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr
2. “Lysol-products” By Genuine500 – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
3. “Laborivahendite steriliseerimine kasutades UV-kiirgust” By Karlmumm – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia