Antiseptics are antimicrobial substances that are applied to living tissue/skin to reduce the possibility of infection, sepsis, or putrefaction. Antiseptics are generally distinguished from antibiotics by the latter's ability to be transported through the lymphatic system to destroy bacteria within the body, and from disinfectants, which destroy microorganisms found on non-living objects.
Disinfectants do not kill bacterial spores e.g., on surgical instruments; a sterilization process is required for that. Even sterilization may not destroy prions.
Some antibiotics are true germicides, capable of destroying microbes (bacteriocidal), while others are bacteriostatic and only prevent or inhibit their growth.
Antibacterials are antiseptics that have the proven ability to act against bacteria. Microbicides which destroy virus particles are called viricides or antivirals.