Any substance or product that inhibits the growth of microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi, or protozoa.

It may be used in soaps and detergents to produce bacteriostatic and bactericidal effects against both pathogens and non-pathogens (such as organisms causing body odor). Antimicrobial agents used in washing and cleaning products range from highly complex bacteriostats, such as triclocarban, to the relatively commonplace pine oil and chlorine bleaches. Antimicrobials are used in deodorant bar soaps, in hard surface cleaners, in some laundry additives such as fabric softeners, and to a small extent in laundry detergents. They are also available as special products for adding to the rinse during laundering when there is concern for infectious organisms.