The Sterillium® Brand

The Sterillium® Brand

Sterillium® – the development of a market leader

The first Sterillium® bottle left BODE Chemie’s German plant in Hamburg-Stellingen on 4 June 1965. Back then, hardly anyone could imagine the product’s triumphal success within such a short time and that its name would become synonymous with hand disinfection.


Based on this competitive advantage, BODE has leveraged the expertise gained to develop a sophisticated product portfolio, which is tailored to different hand disinfection needs, and ranges from the still-modern skin-friendly classic Sterillium®, the colourant and fragrance-free Sterillium® classic pure and the extensively active Sterillium® med to the extremely powerful, virucidal Sterillium® Virugard.

Hand Disinfection

The story of a high-performance product:

Read the story of how it all began:

In the early 1960s, medicine – particularly heart surgery – gained new heights. With cardiac pacemakers and the first heart transplantation, the discipline moved on rapidly. However, at that time, the hygienic conditions in hospitals left much to be desired: nosocomial pathogens resistant to antibiotics and surgical site infections dominated daily routine in clinics and cast a shadow over the innovative surgery methods.

hygienic conditions in hospitals
handwash  procedure

On ward rounds, healthcare staff often even skipped the cumbersome handwash procedure due to time constraints. The alternative: in front of each patient room, there was a large bowl with formaldyhyde-based solution, in which the personnel washed hands before treating the next patient.

Out of curiosity, heart surgeon Dr. Peter Kalmár from the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) in Germany carried out a microbiological examination of such a used solution. The result was stunning – the solution contained countless pathogenic bacterial species. A major threat to patients and staff.

Dr. Peter Kalmar

Kalmár knew from daily routine which criteria a new hand disinfection product needed to fulfil: rapid effect, long-lasting and a broad spectrum of activity against the skin’s own and foreign pathogens, and skin friendliness.

For the implementation of his ideas, the physician relied on the expertise of Bacillolfabrik Dr. Bode & Co. in Hamburg, which had often collaborated with the hospital successfully already. And so the scientists from Dr. Bode & Co. and the physicians of the UKE began their extensive research for a suitable preparation.

Bacillolfabrik Dr. Bode & Co.

It was soon evident that only alcohol possessed the necessary spectrum of activity and had no toxic effects on the human body. Only its skin-irritant potential gave rise to problems. Hence, the scientists from Dr. Bode & Co. added skin-nourishing and moisturising substances to avoid skin irritations.

Sterillium® was born. Following extensive bacteriological testing, the first marketable alcohol-based rub-in hand disinfectant was authorised for practical use. In early summer of 1965, the first Sterillium® batch left Bacillolfabrik Dr. Bode & Co. In addition to its broad spectrum of activity and the skin-friendly properties, the new product convinced by its application independent of washbasins.

In 1965, the first Sterillium® batch left Bacillolfabrik Dr. Bode & Co