The antimicrobial activity of cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC) and miramistin (MST) solutions at different concentrations (5×10−5 to 0.4 %) and a dressing, containing 0.15 % CPC, were tested against Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Escherichia coli after 30 (solutions) and 60 min (fleece) incubation, respectively. Furthermore, the cytotoxic effects of CPC and MST were examined in human keratinocyte (HaCaT) and murine fibroblast (L929) cell lines. A dose of 3×10−3 % CPC or MST was sufficient to entirely eradicate S. aureus after 30 min incubation. To achieve the same effect, higher concentrations were required against E. coli (0.025 % CPC; 0.0125 % MST) and P. aeruginosa (0.5 % CPC; 0.05 % MST). The CPC-fleece showed a high antiseptic effect against all three bacterial strains, although it did not completely eliminate P. aeruginosa. Both substances showed a high cytotoxic impact at higher tested concentrations (CPC >3×10−3 %; MST >8×10−4 %). CPC showed high antimicrobial potency at low concentrations against S. aureus, accompanied by low cytotoxic (side) effects at these concentrations, whilst the required minimal concentration to eradicate E. coli and P. aeruginosa was shown to be cytotoxic for keratinocytes and fibroblasts. The necessary antibacterial amounts of MST were lower, but also cytotoxic in direct contact with typical human wound cells. With regard to demographic changes and increasing bacterial resistance, new effective antiseptics, such as CPC and MST, incorporated in wound dressings without releasing an active substance could help to improve the treatment and healing rates of chronic wounds.