Antibacterial vs. Antimicrobial Products: Differences, Benefits & Giveaways

Antimicrobial or antibacterial? It’s become the quintessential question of the convenience store health aisle. Which is better? What’s the difference? If you’re feeling like you need a degree in microbiology just to figure out which hand sanitizer to buy, don’t worry. You’re not alone. It’s confusing! That’s why we’re breaking down the key differences between antibacterial products and antimicrobial products.

We’ll explain how things like antibacterial ink pens work and why your customers will appreciate receiving antibacterial gifts now more than ever.

Antimicrobial vs. Antibacterial: What’s the Difference?

Antibacterial Products

How can some products prevent bacterial growth? It’s all in the surface. Antibacterial products are made with active ingredients like silver, which is embedded in the surface of the product. These ingredients create an environment that bacteria can’t live on. That makes antibacterial products effective against forms of bacteria like E. coli and MRSA.

Antibacterial products are made with active ingredients like silver, which is embedded in the surface of the product. These ingredients create an environment that bacteria can’t live on.

Antimicrobial Products

Antimicrobial pens and products will also prevent the growth of bacteria, but they go even further, preventing the growth of microorganisms like fungi, mold, and some viruses. With the use of active ingredients like silver or zinc within the product’s surface, antimicrobial products can offer longer lasting protection than antibacterial products. Some antimicrobial products, like hand sanitizer made with 60% ethyl alcohol, can even kill microorganisms.

Antimicrobial products will also prevent the growth of bacteria, but they go even further, preventing the growth of microorganisms like fungi, mold, and some viruses.

What’s the History of Antimicrobials?

All types of things can be antimicrobial. In fact, humans have been using the antimicrobial benefits of certain molds, metals, and plant extracts for thousands of years. Care to take a guess which ancient civilization first pioneered the use of antimicrobials? It’s always a safe bet to go with the ancient Egyptians.

Here’s a few ways antimicrobials were used in ancient times:

  • Ancient Egyptians wrapped wounds in honey, which is high in bacteria-killing hydrogen peroxide.
  • Many ancient civilizations, including the Egyptians, used copper cups which prevented the spread of germs because copper surfaces kill bacteria.
  • The ancient Chinese and Phoenicians used copper as medication and to prevent infection.

Centuries later, mold on bread gave Alexander Fleming the idea for penicillin, an antibiotic which is a type of antimicrobial. In modern times, testing allows us to determine which antimicrobials are most effective and what amount is needed to protect against the broadest range of microorganisms.

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What Kinds of Products Can Be Made Antimicrobial and Antibacterial?

Now that we know how antibacterial and antimicrobial products create safer surfaces, you’re probably wondering which products feature these technologies. Here’s a list of antimicrobial and antibacterial gifts that you can use to safely promote your business:

Antimicrobial Pens

These pens can be shared with confidence thanks to the antimicrobial properties within the surface of the barrel. That also means they’re likely to get your branding more visibility.

Antimicrobial Click Pen


If you love the Colorama Pen above but want a bigger barrel, go for the Contour Pen with Antimicrobial Additive.

Antibacterial Pens

The treatment that we use to create antibacterial ink pens makes them ideal products for business reopening, or wherever pens are often shared between people.

Antibacterial Click Pen

The iPROTECT® Antibacterial Pen proves that you don’t have to break your budget or settle on a boring design to give antibacterial gifts to customers.

Antibacterial Wipes

While not antimicrobial, antibacterial wipes can provide some comfort for those looking to create cleaner, bacteria-free surfaces on their desk, counter, or in their car.

Promotional Wet Wipes

These Antibacterial Wet Wipes are great for cleansing surfaces and making them uninhabitable for bacteria growth. With your branding on the flap, they are sure to be a much appreciated promotional giveaway that can be fit into a travel bag or purse.

Antimicrobial Mouse Pads

You may not think about it, but if you use a computer with a mouse, your hands frequently come in contact with your mousepad. If you’re not sanitizing that pad, it could mean that you’re spreading bacteria around each time you touch it. Antimicrobial mouse pads ensure that whoever is using your computer, they’re not leaving any bacteria behind on the mousepad.

Circular Mouse Pad

This BIC® 8″ Round Antimicrobial Mouse Pad is made with durable quality, treated with an antimicrobial preservative, and allows you to use the entire space for your full color branding. That makes it a great antimicrobial gift for clients.

Interested in finding out more ways to keep your business and customers safe? Learn about branded facemasks, hand sanitizers, and other wellness promotions in our blog on Health & Safety Giveaways.

Jessica Carreiro

From marketing tips to product recommendations, I’m here to help small businesses be their best.

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