When choosing a pack of wet wipes, chances are you’ve often found yourself struggling to differentiate between the antiseptic and alcohol varieties. Most people believe that the two are interchangeable. However, their differences are distinct enough to guide you throughout the purchasing process to make a choice that fits your needs and requirements best.

Antiseptic and alcohol wipes mainly differ due to the chemicals used. Antiseptic wipes are made from antibacterial agents or biocides. On the other hand, alcohol wipes are made from isopropyl and water. 

Still not convinced of the differences between alcohol and antiseptic wipes? Read on to understand how the two differ from each other and how you can use each. 

Are Antiseptic and Alcohol Wipes the Same?

When choosing between antiseptic and alcohol wipes, chances are you’ve often found yourself asking this very same question. Both types can be used to disinfect your hands if you don’t have access to water and soap. However, that might as well be the only thing they have in common. 

Antiseptic and alcohol wipes are not the same. Antiseptic wipes are more common in medical settings. They’re mainly used to clean wounds before dressing. Alcohol wipes, on the other hand, are used to disinfect surfaces. You can’t use alcohol wipes to clean cuts and wounds, as they’ll sting. 

To help you differentiate between these two alternatives better, I’ll take you through each of their advantages and disadvantages in the following section.

Antiseptic Wipes Pros and Cons 

While antiseptic wipes come in handy when attending to injuries, cleaning your hands, and disinfecting surfaces, they also have downsides. For example, they can cause skin irritation or eye-related issues if used to wipe the face. 

Let’s go through a detailed breakdown of the pros and cons of using antiseptic wet wipes. 


  • Great substitute for soap and water when cleaning your hands. Sometimes, you can’t access clean water and soap after running an errand or before you eat. Using antiseptic wipes can kill all the bacteria on your hands and get the same results as you would with soap and water. 
  • Safe to use on children. Children are especially prone to bringing in dirt and debris. You can use antiseptic wipes on their hands and safely remove the dirt, kill the bacteria and disinfect them properly. 
  • They remove sweat and foul odors from clothing and body. If you need to freshen up and don’t have the time for a quick bath, you can use antiseptic wipes to wipe the sweat off your body and clothes. 
  • It can be used to clean car seats, restaurant surfaces, and public space spots. If you’re visiting a public space or have made a mess on your car seat, antiseptic wipes clean and kill germs. Using them will make public surfaces safer to touch and use. 
  • Great traveling companion. If you’re an avid traveling enthusiast, antiseptic wipes come in handy. You can use them to clean your hands anytime you don’t have the time/option to do a quick bathroom run. You can also use them to freshen up your face. 
  • They remove tough stains on clothes. Smudges, food, and sweat stains can be unsightly on your clothes. Luckily, you can use antiseptic wipes to clean them right off.  


  • It can cause skin problems. If you’re allergic to any of the chemical components used in antiseptic wet wipes, you could get dermatitis. Some symptoms include itching, a burning sensation, irritation, and a rash on the affected areas. 
  • It can cause eye infections. The chemicals used to make antiseptic wet wipes can also cause eye infections if you use them to clean your face. 
  • Can block skin pores. While antiseptic wipes are an excellent substitute for soap and water, they can clog your skin pores. This could lead to the creation of blackheads.
  • Can dehydrate your skin. Antiseptic wipes wipe off the natural oils from your skin. This leaves your skin dehydrated, and if you use them for long enough, you could develop a skin breakout. 
  • Not biodegradable. Antiseptic wet wipes are made from plastic polymers which are not biodegradable. This composition makes them a non-sustainable choice, as they add the carbon print. 

Alcohol Wipes Pros and Cons 

If you’re thinking about purchasing a pack or two of alcohol wipes, here’s what you need to know:


  • Kills bacteria. Isopropyl is the main component in alcohol wipes, and it kills bacteria well. If you are in a disinfectant emergency, you can use alcohol wipes to clean surfaces. 
  • Fast-acting. Alcohol has a high evaporation rate. This means that these wipes can clean surfaces fast before drying off.
  • Non-corrosive. Alcohol is non-corrosive. It can’t corrode your skin or other surfaces. This makes it safe to use in your home, office, or workshop.  
  • Non-staining. If you’re struggling with a smudge on your workspace, you can trust your alcohol wipes to do a thorough cleaning job. 
  • No toxic residue. Most alcohol wipes have a water and alcohol ratio of 30:70. This means they are less toxic to use on most surfaces. 
  • Biodegradable. Alcohol wipes are made with eco-friendly non-woven fabric. They are more environmentally friendly than antiseptic wipes. 


  • Slow acting on viruses and bacteria. Compared to antiseptic wipes, alcohol wipes are slow-acting on viruses and bacteria due to the diluted alcohol content. Therefore, they’re not as effective in killing bacteria. 
  • Flammable. Alcohol is highly flammable and should not be used near sparks or fires. This makes alcohol wipes unfit to use if you work in fire-related fields such as cooking. 
  • It can cause skin problems. If you have sensitive skin, alcohol wipes are not ideal for you. The high alcohol content can affect your skin, leaving you with an itch, irritation, and rash breakout. 
  • Can’t clean wounds. Alcohol stings if it comes into contact with an open wound. You can only use it to clean the areas around the wound to prevent the spread of bacteria. 
  • They leave your skin dry. Alcohol washes off the natural oils on your skin. This leaves your skin dry and susceptible to harsh conditions. 

Other Differences Between Antiseptic and Alcohol Wipes

As I previously mentioned, antiseptic and alcohol wipes share more differences than similarities. These include their uses, materials, chemicals infused, safety issues, and efficiency in cleaning wounds and surfaces.


Antiseptic Wipes 

The primary use of antiseptic wipes is to disinfect skin, equipment, and surfaces. They’re mostly used in a hospital setting because they’re 100% effective in killing germs and viruses. The wipes are your best bet if you’re looking for an efficient option for killing germs and making your home a safer environment. 

Antiseptic wipes are also most effective on wet pathogens. They are great to use in dry environments. However, if you want the wipes to be 100% effective, you should use them on moist surfaces. 

Alcohol Wipes

You can use alcohol wipes to clean your optical surfaces. Whether they’re sunglasses, medical glasses, or protective glasses, alcohol wipes do an excellent job of removing dust and other particles. 

You can also use alcohol wipes to clean fiber optic connectors and fusion splicers. If you work in a technology-related field, a pack of alcohol wipes comes in handy to clean any equipment before installing it. 

If your computer keyboard looks all dusty and full of grime, you can use alcohol wipes to clean it up. Alcohol evaporates fast and can’t damage your keyboard. It doesn’t leave moisture behind, so it’s highly unlikely to damage your keyboard’s wiring. 

If your shop has display screens, alcohol wipes are an excellent alternative for cleaning the screens instead of soap and water. Soap and water might leave streaks, while alcohol wipes will do more thoroughly. 

You can also use alcohol wipes to remove oil, dust, and other contaminants from your surfaces. Alcohol does a great job on grease and oily patches, leaving your surfaces clean and less contaminated. 


Antiseptic Wipes 

Antiseptic wipes are made of plastic polymers, which are mechanically processed and thermally bonded. 

Unfortunately, this is one of the most significant drawbacks of antiseptic wipes and a dealbreaker for the environmentally conscious. 

Plastics are non-biodegradable and contribute to the increase of carbon footprint in the world. However, the antibacterial ingredients used to make antiseptic wipes are incompatible with biodegradable fabrics, so there’s no way to use plastic polymers in these products. 

Even though most manufacturers today have to use plastic polymers to make the fabric, there’s ongoing research on making antiseptic wipes more environmentally friendly. 

On the upside, plastic-based wipes are manufactured in significantly thinner gauges than the biodegradable ones without compromising tensile strength. This makes them easier to carry around and use. 

Alcohol Wipes

Alcohol wipes are either made of plastic-based materials or biodegradable non-woven fabrics. 

Alcohol wipes made of biodegradable non-woven fabric are much more sustainable. Therefore, if you’re trying to protect the environment consciously, these are the best choice for you.

Chemicals Used 

Antiseptic Wipes 

Antiseptic wipes comprise antibacterial agents or biocides. They are mostly made from water-soluble quaternary ammonium compounds. 

These chemicals are most effective in low concentrations. This means that your antiseptic wipes have a low chemical concentration per piece. 

Alcohol Wipes 

Alcohol wipes are made from isopropyl. Isopropyl is a chemical composed of isopropanol and 2-propanol. 

The chemical dissolves a wide range of polar and nonpolar stains. Some of the stains you can clean with alcohol wipes include:

  • Light oils
  • Fingerprints
  • Cutting fluids
  • Flux residues
  • Carbon deposits 
  • Mold releases 

Isopropyl in alcohol wipes is usually mixed with water in a ratio of 70:30. 

Safety Issues 

Antiseptic Wipes 

Antiseptic wipes can cause skin breakouts in people with sensitive skin. Some possible indicators of skin infections include rashes, redness, inflammation, and irritated skin. 

They can also block your skin’s pores and limit excretion. As a result, you’ll start seeing blackheads on your skin with extended use. 

The wipes can also deplete your skin of its natural oils. As a result, you’ll start experiencing dryness and cracked skin. However, as long as you apply a good-quality moisturizer after using antiseptic wipes, your skin shouldn’t suffer any serious issues. 

Antiseptic wipes can also cause eye infections if you use them to clean makeup from your face. Therefore, always avoid contact with the eyes when using these wipes. 

The chemicals in antiseptic wipes are harmful if ingested. You should keep them away from children and seek medical help if they’re accidentally ingested. 

On the upside, antiseptic wipes are not flammable and safe in the kitchen or near heat sources. 

Alcohol Wipes 

Alcohol wipes are considered safe if you handle them properly. However, they’re highly flammable and should be used with caution. You also need to keep them away from children, especially in areas with a high risk of fire or sparks. 

Use alcohol wipes in ventilated spaces, away from any flames. 

Isopropyl is also harmful if ingested directly; therefore, you should consult a medical practitioner immediately in case this occurs. 

Alcohol damages your skin by removing the protective layer of natural oils. This effect can lead to dermatitis and harmful exposure to harsh environments. Always use a good-quality moisturizer on your skin after cleaning it with alcohol wipes. 

If you’re handling alcohol wipes for prolonged periods, you can wear nitrile gloves to protect your hands. 

Cleaning Wounds 

Antiseptic Wipes 

Antiseptic wipes are excellent for cleaning wounds, scrapes, and cuts before applying any ointment, medicine, or dressing. They are gentle and don’t sting. They are also medically approved for this purpose. 

The disinfectant qualities in antiseptic wipes allow them to sterilize wounds and the areas around them. This helps quicken the healing process and limit the spread of bacteria. 

Alcohol Wipes

Alcohol stings when poured on an open wound, scrape, or cut. You can, therefore, only use alcohol wipes to clean the areas around wounds, but not the injury itself. However, they still help stop the spread of bacteria. 

Can You Substitute Antiseptic Wipes With Alcohol Wipes? 

You can sometimes substitute antiseptic wipes with alcohol wipes, depending on how you intend to use them. For example, if you’re looking to disinfect your hands, you can opt for either option. However, only antiseptic wipes will do if you want to sterilize a wound or cut.

If you’re looking for a quick way to clean your hands after handling a dirty job or eating, you can use antiseptic or alcohol wipes. They both remove any dirt or residue from your hands and kill germs. 

You can also use either type to clean surfaces such as your car’s dashboard, a car seat, a surface in a public area, or your working space. Both wipes do a perfect job of removing dirt. However, alcohol wipes are better at cleaning oil-based stains. 

If you’re looking for wipes to clean a wound, scrape, or any open injury, the best option is antiseptic wipes. These are medically approved and don’t sting when used on a wound. On the other hand, you can only use alcohol wipes to clean the surrounding areas and stop the spread of bacteria. 

Antiseptic wipes are excellent to use in a medical environment. They are highly efficient in killing disease-causing germs and viruses. You can use them to clean surfaces, your hands, and contaminated areas to stop the spread of these harmful microorganisms. 

Alcohol wipes are great for cleaning non-medical surfaces. 

If you’re working in the kitchen or around any exposed flames, you can’t substitute antiseptic wipes with alcohol wipes. Alcohol wipes are flammable and can cause severe accidents if used near a fire. On the other hand, antiseptic wipes are safe to use near fires. 

If you’re an environmentalist, you should also take biodegradability into account when making the switch. Alcohol wipes are made of biodegradable material, unlike their antiseptic counterparts made of plastic polymers. 

Advantages of Both Antiseptic and Alcohol Wipes 

While antiseptic and alcohol wipes can widely differ in form and function, their benefits are often similar. Here are the main advantages of using either antiseptic or alcohol wipes: 

Easy To Use

Both wipes are easy to use. You only need to remove them from their pack and clean a particular surface.

Always dispose of each wipe after use to keep your environment clean. You also need to keep their containers closed to protect the wipes from drying up. 

Most wipes are packaged well and make it easy for you to remove a piece at a time. 


Antiseptic and alcohol wipes are convenient to use. If you’re traveling or have no access to water and soap to clean up, you can use the wipes to remove dirt and kill germs. 

You can also use them to clean public areas such as benches and handrails, which helps to reduce the spread of germs and diseases. 

The ant-bacterial qualities in either antiseptic or alcohol wipes make them a handy disease-fighting tool to have in your corner. 


Instead of queuing or spending time looking for water and soap to clean your hands, you can simply get the job done using an antiseptic or alcohol wipe. 

If you’re traveling with your family, you won’t have to make regular stopovers to wash your hands. You can use the wipes and promptly dispose of them while keeping yourself safe from germs and viruses. 

You can also stock them up at the office for your employees to use. You’ll be saving time and resources in the long run, as your employees are less likely to get sick and take days off. 


Antiseptic and alcohol wipes reduce the number of times you have to use soap and water to clean your hands and surfaces. In the long run, you’ll be actively participating in environmental conservation. 

If you use wipes at home or the workplace, you’ll also help to reduce water costs. 

Easy Storage 

Antiseptic and alcohol wipes come in easy-to-use and convenient packages. They are stacked in manageable leaflets that you can carry in your handbag, car, or work bag. 

If you buy the wipes in bulk, you can store them in their cartons and remove them when necessary. 

You can also keep a packet or two on your work counter as necessary. You will be saving invaluable resources, but you’ll also be saving significant space in the process.


Antiseptic and alcohol wipes are always an excellent addition to your bag, work drawer, or car. You never know when you’ll need to clean up a surface or your skin. However, although both varieties serve similar purposes, they’re still different. 

Some of their most notable differences include their uses, the fabrics they’re made of, the chemical components included in them, and safety issues. 

Understand their differences before buying either type of wipe in order to choose what’ll serve you best. 

Looking for a reliable resource for your medical supplies? Here at Allied USA, we have everything you need to keep your medical practice well stocked. Whether it’s medical gloves, antiseptic wipes, or wound supplies, we have what you’re looking for. Check out our selection today!