Antibacterial vs. Antimicrobial

Learn the key differences between antibacterial and antimicrobial protection, and what it means for your business.

Antibacterial vs. Antimicrobial: What's the Difference?

The primary difference between antibacterial vs. antimicrobial substances is the types of microorganisms they act upon. While antimicrobial substances work against a broad spectrum of microbes (bacteria, mold, mildew, algae, and even viruses), antibacterial substances are only effective against bacteria. Antimicrobial technologies work to disrupt the vital life processes of a broad spectrum of microbes. When bacteria comes into contact with a surface treated with antimicrobial technology, the antimicrobial will damage the cell’s protein, membrane, DNA, and internal systems using a multi-modal attack, causing it to die.

Does antimicrobial also mean antifungal?

Antimicrobial technologies work against a broad spectrum of microbes and can have both antifungal and antibacterial properties. The active ingredient in the technology will determine if it is antibacterial, antifungal, or both.

Is antimicrobial better than antibacterial?

Antimicrobial technologies are effective against a broad spectrum of bacteria and fungi, but if fungal activity is not a concern for your product, using an antibacterial solution might be the better option for you. Choosing one over the other all depends on the end use environment and specific goals a company has for their antimicrobial product.

It’s important to work with a dedicated technical team who can make recommendations that specifically target certain organisms based upon your industry and how the final product will be used. Microban® utilizes test methods that directly apply to specific end uses so product developers don’t end up with technologies that are irrelevant to the microorganisms present in their industries.

  • Antibacterial Technologies: Antibacterial technologies are effective against a broad spectrum of harmful bacteria including E. coli and MRSA.* They will typically incorporate silver active ingredients, allowing for successful application in a wide variety of product types.
  • Antifungal Technologies: Antifungal technologies work to reduce the presence of fungi like mold, mildew, rusts, and yeasts. These formulations are typically zinc-based, and are best utilized in environments prone to moisture such as outdoor living spaces, foams, bath and laundry rooms, and more.
  • Antimicrobial Technologies: Antimicrobial technologies minimize the presence of bacteria, mold, and fungi.* In contrast to antibacterial agents, antimicrobial substances offer a greater level of product protection by continuously inhibiting the growth of microbes on surfaces for very long periods of time. The broad spectrum performance of antimicrobial substances makes them perfect for use in hygiene critical environments such as schools, hospitals, and commercial kitchens. Typical active ingredients include silver or zinc.

Finding the Best Antimicrobial for Your Business Needs

At Microban, when helping you to determine the best antimicrobial for your business needs, we consider a variety of factors that start with understanding what you are looking to achieve. Whether you want your product to be marketed as antibacterial, antimicrobial, or both, Microban's team of experts will be able to assist with a solution that offers the right antimicrobial properties for your product type. Our portfolio of organic and inorganic antimicrobials are proven effective against a plethora of degrading microbes.

At Microban, we utilize built-in antimicrobial technologies to help keep products cleaner, fresher and more durable for longer. Using antimicrobials allows you to protect your products from stain and odor-causing bacteria, mold and mildew. Microban antimicrobial product protection can be built into products across a wide variety of industries such as:

Built-in antibacterial technologies are very different to residual antibacterial cleaning solutions. Check out our blog on the key differences between built-in antimicrobial solutions and cleaning products.

Do you have more questions about antimicrobial and antibacterial technologies? Contact Microban today to arrange a consultation with a member of our team.

*Subject to the performance properties of the specific active ingredient manufactured into your product. Treated product efficacy claims against specific microbes are dependant on the results of laboratory testing.