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What are Natural Antiseptics?

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Last Updated Apr 14, 2023

What are natural antiseptics?


  1. What are Antiseptics?
  2. What are Natural Antiseptics?
  3. Why Use Natural Antiseptics?
  4. Examples of Natural Antiseptics
    1. Lemon
    2. Honey
      1. Manuka honey
    3. Pineapple
    4. Various essential oils
    5. Moringa oleifera
    6. Garlic
  5. Health Benefits of Natural Antiseptics
    1. Natural antibiotic
    2. Antimicrobial properties
    3. Anti-inflammatory properties
    4. Antioxidants
    5. Antifungal properties
  6. Conditions Natural Antiseptics Can Help With
    1. Staph infection (staphylococcus aureus)
    2. Strep throat (Streptococcus pyogenes)
    3. Urinary tract infection
    4. Gingivitis
  7. Evidence for Natural Antiseptics
  8. Natural Vs Synthetic Antiseptics
  9. How To Guide

Do you need an antiseptic around the home but loath to use potent antiseptic agents? There are some extremely effective natural antiseptics that are great for a wide range of applications. Natural antiseptics can treat internal problems, skin and even wounds. These are some natural antiseptics you should use to help maintain health.

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What are Antiseptics?

Antiseptics refer to antimicrobial products that kill or prevent the growth of microorganisms on the body's living tissues. They are applied to cuts, open wounds, burns or exposed tissues, to inhibit microbes that cause infections. The most commonly used antiseptics include alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, chlorhexidine and povidone-iodine, among others.

There's also a broad spectrum of natural antiseptics that are milder but just as powerful as their chemical counterparts in fighting off germs and bacteria that thrive in open wounds or injured mucous membranes. These include herbal remedies like calendula and oregano, as well as essential oils such as lavender and rosemary.

What are antiseptics?

What are Natural Antiseptics?

Natural antiseptics are plant-based remedies for wounds, cuts, scrapes, ulcers and burns. Their efficacy is the same as synthetic medications, if not greater, plus, they are safer to use as they don't pose any side effects.   

Why Use Natural Antiseptics?

Before the advent of modern medicine, natural antiseptics were the only things people had to use. These included herbs, leaves and even the bark of trees. Over time, people in Europe, Asia, Australia, and other continents learned what natural antiseptics could do and shared their knowledge with others in their villages and towns.

Different types of herbs were used in each country, depending on the plants that were available in their terrestrial ecosystem, but one thing was certain—natural antiseptics worked for many skin conditions, mental disorders and internal problems.

Although synthetic antiseptics are formulated with medicinal plants, the chemical synthesis involved in the formulation increases its adverse effects. Using them for a long period may cause the skin to become red, which oftentimes leads to itching, dryness and inflammation. When used to treat oral health problems like gingivitis, chemical-based antiseptics not only leads to teeth discoloration but also leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Natural antiseptics aren't only gentler to your skin but more considerate of Mother Earth as they don't require any chemical processes, hence leaving no carbon footprint on the planet. Because they're made from the different parts of plants and bioactive compounds, natural antiseptics are cheaper if not easily obtainable. Some examples of these include include:

  • Allspice
  • Basil
  • Cayenne
  • Chili peppers
  • Cinnamon
  • Chili peppers
  • Mustard seed
  • Fennel

That's just the tip of the iceberg. Many herbs, leaves and bark have natural antiseptic properties that can also heal internal problems, and some even lessen anxiety and depression and can help with mental issues.

Examples of Natural Antiseptics


Lemon is a natural antiseptic

Lemon has antiseptic properties and contains compounds that have been studied for their effects on immune function and the lymphatic, circulatory, and digestive systems. It is antibacterial and is beneficial for the skin. To disinfect the air, simply add a few drops of lemon to a spray bottle and spritz it around your home. To purify soy or rice milk, simply add two drops of lemon.

Lemon can be used to treat verrucas, insect bites and tension headaches. It can also be used for sore throats, to treat pruritus of the scrotum, for uterine hemorrhage after delivery, or to relieve sunburn.


Honey is another natural antiseptic and there are several studies on how honey has been used to treat wounds. Applying honey to wounds helps to prevent infections, as it contains antimicrobial agents that kill the bacteria in and around the wound. Many types of bacteria cannot survive in honey so the wound heals, swelling eases, and the tissues can regrow. Honey is also great for treating ulcers and burns. When treating diarrhea, honey promotes the rehydration of the body and more quickly clears the diarrhea and any vomiting and stomach upsets.

Honey as a natural antiseptic

Manuka honey

Produced from the nectar of the leptospermum scoparium's flowers, which are native to Australia, manuka honey is used as an effective wound treatment as it contains antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Unlike other types of honey, manuka honey has a higher concentration of methylglyoxal that provides a higher level of natural antibiotic to disinfect and treat wounds.


Pineapple is high in vitamins A, C, and B, and is rich in manganese, which is an essential part of certain enzymes that are necessary for metabolising proteins and carbohydrates. The pineapple enzyme, bromelain, is used for digesting proteins, and while it does so, it gives some effective anti-inflammatory benefits. It contains antibiotic properties and helps to enhance medical antibiotics. Pineapple is antiseptic and a natural astringent. It reduces the acidity of urine, helps with normalising menstruation and can be used for abscesses, pneumonia, worm infestation, exhaustion, kidney infections, kidney stones, bronchitis, and digestive disorders. Pineapple also soothes sore throats.

Besides these three natural remedies, there are several types of herbs and essential oils that can be used to treat wounds and prevent bacterial infections.

Various essential oils

Essential oils are extracted from medicinal plants and are highly effective in healing wounds, cuts, burns and other skin conditions. When applied correctly and with care to the infected area, you will see immediate results. Here below are 10 essential oils that can heal your wound faster.

  • Lavender oil contains antimicrobial properties that can treat scrapes and wounds, as well as an analgesic effect to reduce pain from the wound. It can also help with anxiety, depression, insomnia, digestive problems, headaches and skin problems.
  • Rosemary oil has anti-inflammatory properties and is ideal for deep cuts as it prevents swelling and infection.
  • Tea tree oil contains antifungal properties and natural antibiotics that speed up wound healing and eliminates scars. It also contains antiseptic compounds that effectively disinfectant the skin. Depending on the severity of the condition, it can be used at a strength of 5 to 15 percent daily. Tea tree oil has been proven to help with acne, athlete's foot, ringworm, jock itch, fungal infections of the toe or finger nails, yeast infections, wound healing, and bad breath, amongst other things.
  • Chamomile oil is naturally soothing that doesn't only expedite wound healing but also calms an array of skin conditions like eczema, skin rashes and chicken pox, among others.
  • Calendula oil has antifungal properties that heal wounds faster and promote tissue growth. It can be taken orally, but it is also used topically and incorporated in many skin care products. Calendula is an antivirus and is a powerful antioxidant. It also has anti-inflammatory ingredients which can help protect cells from free radical damage.
  • Thyme oil is a natural antiseptic that has antibacterial qualities which can treat menstrual problems. It also has a calming ingredient which can help soothe physical pain and emotional distress.
  • Witch Hazel is a gentle antiseptic that keeps bacteria off your skin. It's also an astringent that unclogs the pores and prevents blemishes.
  • Eucalyptus oil is another high quality natural antiseptic that was also used by Australian aboriginals and has been scientifically proven to work. It has a number of qualities that should make it a product to have in the home. It is anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antibacterial and a disinfectant. It also is a good decongestant, natural deodorant and has insecticidal properties, which can be of benefit when mosquitoes are present.
  • Grapefruit seed extract is both antimicrobial and antiseptic. For use as an antiseptic, make a solution of 4 to 40 drops in water and apply to affected areas two or three times a day. To use as a disinfectant, spray it in larger areas of your home.
  • Oregano oil has antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties that prevent bacterial infection and scarring. It's also an antioxidant that prevents oxidation which causes skin ageing.

Before applying any of these essential oils to the affected area, make sure to clean it very well with a saline solution using a sterile pad. 

Moringa oleifera

The extract of moringa oleifera, otherwise known as drumstick tree, has been proven effective in wound healing. A medical journal shows that the plant contains anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antidiabetic properties that can expedite the healing of skin wounds.


Fresh garlic has antibacterial and antiviral properties and can be used on wounds. Before modern medicines were available, garlic was used to treat wounds.

Garlic and its antiseptic benefits

Health Benefits of Natural Antiseptics

The benefits of natural antiseptics go beyond treating wounds, cuts, scrapes and burns; they improve one's emotional state and overall wellness. Using herbs and essential oils from different species of plants not only heals wounds faster but also promotes skin health and appearance as well. Once you're free of pain and discomfort, you will feel better, happier and more confident. Compared to synthetic medications, natural antiseptics don't do the following:

  • Dehydrate the skin
  • Cause redness and irritation
  • Cause breakouts
  • Weaken immunity
  • Cause side effects with prolonged use
  • Cost too much 

Natural antibiotic

The leaves, roots, bark and extract of a medicinal plant contain natural antibiotics that treat bacterial infections on a wound. Unlike synthetic antibiotics that weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infection when overused, natural antibiotics in herbal remedies will do your body no harm.

Antimicrobial properties

Natural antiseptics with antimicrobial agents ward off bacterial growth that can cause infection. An infection may spread throughout the body and bring about all sorts of ailments or diseases. The antimicrobial activities of herbal remedies and essential oils protect the body and support its ability to resist all sorts of pathogens.

Anti-inflammatory properties  

The anti-inflammatory agents contained in natural antiseptics not only speed up wound healing but also treat skin conditions like psoriasis. It can also help with gastric ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome.  


Natural antiseptics are antioxidants by nature, hence their ability to prevent oxidation that damage the cells in the body, as well as promote tissue regeneration. 

Antifungal properties

The antifungal properties in natural antiseptics ward off fungi like Candida, which delay the healing of wounds. Besides slowing down healing, fungi can lead to serious health complications like bone infection.   

Conditions Natural Antiseptics Can Help With

Natural antiseptics prevent bacterial infection which may lead to a slew of health problems. An infection may occur inside the body as peptide ulcers or on its surface like the skin. As they are derived from plants, natural antiseptics may be used topically or orally to treat a condition. They have been used for centuries to address a wide range of ailments and conditions, including:

  • Wounds and cuts
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Pimples and acne
  • Burns
  • Psoriasis
  • Rashes
  • Fungal infection
  • Constipation and diarrhoea
  • Menstrual pain
  • Dental problems
  • Some types of cancer

Staph infection (staphylococcus aureus)

Staph infection is a skin condition caused by staphylococcus, a group of bacteria that causes infections in the body's tissues. It can manifest as a boil or swelling of the skin, and it eventually leads to a discharge of pus. The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of natural antiseptics, such as rosemary oil, can help stave off worsening of this condition. Make sure to clean the infected area properly before applying the oil.

Strep throat (streptococcus pyogenes)

Lemon water and honey are effective remedies for strep throat, a painful condition of the throat caused by streptococcus pyogenes, a group of bacteria that attacks the tonsils, skin and mucous membranes. Mixing a spoonful of honey into a glass of lemon water will bolster the antiviral properties of both antiseptics and kill bacteria in a flash.

Urinary tract infection

Urinary tract infection affects the main organs where urine passes through during excretion, such as the kidneys, bladder and urethra. It is a painful condition caused by bacterial growth. Ingesting herbs that are rich in antimicrobial properties, such as garlic, uva-ursi, sage and cranberry, have been proven effective in killing bacteria that causes this condition.


A type of gum disease characterised by bleeding and swollen gums, gingivitis is mainly caused by the buildup of plaque between the teeth. Besides pain, this condition causes an unpleasant breath too. However, it's not something you couldn't treat with natural antiseptics. Using a tea tree oil or sage solution as a mouthwash will heal your gums fast as both contain antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.  

Scientific Evidence and Studies for Natural Antiseptics

  1. Honey: Multiple studies have shown the benefits of honey as a natural antiseptic. For example, a review published in the journal Wounds (Al-Waili, Salom, & Al-Ghamdi, 2011) highlights honey's antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and wound healing properties. 

  2. Tea Tree Oil: A study published in the Journal of Hospital Infection (Caelli, Porteous, Carson, Heller, & Riley, 2000) demonstrated the antimicrobial properties of tea tree oil against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). 

  3. Moringa oleifera: A study published in the journal BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies (Muhammad et al., 2016) explored the wound healing potential of Moringa oleifera leaf extract. 

  4. Garlic: A review article published in the journal Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology (Nya & Austin, 2009) demonstrated the antimicrobial properties of garlic, particularly in wound care. 

  5. Calendula: A study published in the journal Phytomedicine (Klouchek-Popova, Popov, Pavlova, & Krŭstev, 1982) demonstrated the anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties of calendula. 

  6. Lavender Oil: A review article published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (Yap et al., 2019) highlights the antimicrobial and wound healing properties of lavender essential oil. 


Natural Vs Synthetic Antiseptics

When it comes to choosing an antiseptic, understanding the differences between natural and synthetic options can help you make an informed decision. Here are some key factors that set natural antiseptics apart from their synthetic counterparts:

  1. Source and Composition

Natural antiseptics are derived from plants, animals, or minerals, and usually contain a mixture of active ingredients that have antimicrobial properties. Examples include honey, tea tree oil, and aloe vera. These compounds often work synergistically to provide their antiseptic effect.

Synthetic antiseptics, on the other hand, are created through chemical processes and usually consist of a single active ingredient. Examples include hydrogen peroxide, isopropyl alcohol, and chlorhexidine. These compounds are designed to have a specific mode of action and are often more potent than natural alternatives.

  1. Gentleness and Skin Compatibility

Natural antiseptics are typically gentler on the skin due to their organic origin and complex composition. They often contain additional compounds that soothe and nourish the skin, making them less likely to cause irritation or other negative side effects.

Synthetic antiseptics, while often highly effective, can sometimes cause skin dryness, irritation, or allergic reactions, especially with prolonged use. Some synthetic antiseptics can also damage healthy tissue, potentially delaying the healing process.

  1. Side Effects and Safety

While both natural and synthetic antiseptics can have side effects, natural antiseptics generally have fewer and milder side effects. However, individual sensitivity and allergies to specific natural ingredients can still occur, so it's essential to monitor your skin's reaction when using a new natural antiseptic.

Synthetic antiseptics, due to their more potent nature, may cause more severe side effects, such as skin irritation or damage to healthy tissue. Some synthetic antiseptics can also interact with other medications or treatments, so it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional before use.

  1. Environmental Impact

Natural antiseptics, being derived from renewable resources, generally have a smaller environmental footprint compared to their synthetic counterparts. The production of synthetic antiseptics can involve the use of non-renewable resources and generate waste products that can be harmful to the environment.

In conclusion, natural antiseptics offer some distinct advantages over synthetic options, including being gentler on the skin, having fewer side effects, and being more environmentally friendly. However, it's essential to consider individual needs, preferences, and possible sensitivities when choosing an antiseptic, whether natural or synthetic.

How to Use


  1. Clean the affected area with water or saline solution.
  2. Apply a thin layer of raw, unprocessed honey directly to the wound.
  3. Cover with a sterile bandage or dressing.
  4. Change the dressing and reapply honey once or twice daily, or as needed.

Manuka honey:

  1. Follow the same steps as with regular honey, but use Manuka honey instead.
  2. Due to its higher antimicrobial properties, Manuka honey may provide better results for wound healing and infection prevention.


  1. Crush or blend fresh pineapple to create a paste or juice.
  2. Apply the pineapple paste or juice directly to the affected area.
  3. Leave it on for 10-15 minutes before rinsing with water.
  4. Repeat once or twice daily as needed.

Lavender oil:

  1. Dilute 2-3 drops of lavender essential oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil or almond oil.
  2. Gently apply the mixture to the affected area with a cotton ball or clean fingertips.
  3. Repeat 2-3 times a day or as needed.

Tea tree oil:

  1. Dilute 2-3 drops of tea tree essential oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil or almond oil.
  2. Apply the mixture to the affected area using a cotton ball or clean fingertips.
  3. Repeat 2-3 times a day or as needed.

Calendula oil:

  1. Apply a few drops of calendula oil to a cotton ball or clean fingertips.
  2. Gently apply the oil to the affected area.
  3. Repeat 2-3 times a day or as needed.

Witch Hazel:

  1. Soak a cotton ball with witch hazel extract.
  2. Apply it to the affected area, gently dabbing the skin.
  3. Allow it to air dry. Repeat 2-3 times a day or as needed.

Eucalyptus oil:

  1. Dilute 2-3 drops of eucalyptus essential oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil or almond oil.
  2. Apply the mixture to the affected area using a cotton ball or clean fingertips.
  3. Repeat 2-3 times a day or as needed.

Oregano oil:

  1. Dilute 1-2 drops of oregano essential oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil or almond oil.
  2. Apply the mixture to the affected area using a cotton ball or clean fingertips.
  3. Repeat 2-3 times a day or as needed.

Moringa oleifera:

  1. Crush fresh Moringa oleifera leaves to create a paste or use Moringa oleifera oil.
  2. Apply the paste or oil directly to the affected area.
  3. Leave it on for 10-15 minutes before rinsing with water.
  4. Repeat once or twice daily as needed.

Grapefruit seed:

  1. Dilute a few drops of grapefruit seed extract in water or a carrier oil.
  2. Apply the mixture to the affected area using a cotton ball or clean fingertips.
  3. Repeat 2-3 times a day or as needed.


  1. Crush a fresh garlic clove to release its juice.
  2. Apply the garlic juice to the affected area with a cotton ball or clean fingertips.
  3. Leave it on for 5-10 minutes before rinsing with water.
  4. Repeat once or twice daily as needed.

Note: Before using any natural antiseptic, always perform a patch test to check for potential allergic reactions or skin sensitivities. If you experience any adverse effects, discontinue use immediately and consult a healthcare professional.



Since natural antiseptics were used for thousands of years before modern medicine, they are worth looking into. A herbalist can give you advice on how to use them, and it may be a good idea to contact a herbalist near you to avoid using natural antiseptics in the wrong way. They can be very powerful and you don't want to overuse them. If you couldn't find a herbalist in your area, the Natural Therapy Pages has a comprehensive list of qualified herbalists whom you can work with online. It also helps to look up articles that share tips on the proper use of natural antiseptics.

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Originally published on Sep 10, 2018

FAQs About Antiseptics

What is natural antibacterial?

Essential oils and other plant-derived antiseptics have natural antibacterial properties which can ward off all types of bacteria that cause infections and diseases. Oregano oil is an example of a natural antibacterial substance that contains carvacrol and thymol, which are potent antibacterial compounds.

What kills Streptococcus naturally?

Scientific journals show that several herbs contain natural antibiotics that can kill streptococcus, with garlic, rosemary and oregano oil leading the pack.

Does honey kill bacteria?

Yes, indeed! Pure, unpasteurised honey contains antimicrobial agents that can eliminate and inhibit the growth of bacteria. It can also treat stomach ulcers and burns.

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