Disinfectants: Combat Pathogens Effectively

Microorganisms like bacteria, viruses and fungi are everywhere, but most are harmless. Some can trigger what may turn out to be serious illnesses, however. Disinfectants can be used to render these pathogens harmless before they cause infection. Regular disinfection is important wherever there are stringent hygiene requirements, especially healthcare settings. High-quality, tested and certified disinfectants like Sterilium brand products are available in our online shop at affordable prices. Our product range includes:

  • hand sanitiser
  • surface disinfectants
  • disinfectant wipes
  • disinfectant dispensers

Disinfectants: an overview

Disinfectants are designed to destroy microorganisms or render them inactive so they cannot cause illness. The risk of infection also depends on the population density. Disinfectants reduce the number of germs to a low enough level that these pathogens no longer present a danger to humans. When the goal is to completely eliminate germs, this is referred to as sterilisation.

The manufacture and certification of disinfectants is regulated by law. The relevant legal standards are set out in the laws governing medical products, pharmaceuticals and biocidal products. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and the German Association for Applied Hygiene (VAH) are both involved in the analysis and certification of disinfectants. Both institutions publish lists of certified surface disinfectant and hand sanitiser products.

Most frequent applications

Public health

Medical and care facilities have special hygiene requirements in place, especially those settings where large numbers of sick or immunocompromised individuals are likely to gather in confined spaces, including

  • hospitals
  • doctors’ surgeries
  • ambulatory or outpatient clinics
  • rehabilitation centres
  • assisted living and care homes
  • emergency and mobile care services

Public facilities

Disinfectants are also used in places where large numbers of people regularly gather and pathogens are transmitted particularly easily. Regularly disinfecting surfaces or providing hand sanitiser dispensers may be a good option, for example in:

  • schools and nurseries
  • public offices
  • gyms
  • swimming pools
  • cultural institutions

Close contact retail services

Strict requirements are also in place in settings where staff and customers are regularly in close contact, for example in:

  • hair salons
  • nail salons
  • tattoo studios
  • massage studios

The restaurant and food industry

Regularly disinfecting hands and surfaces is also important in restaurants, cafeteria kitchens and agricultural and food processing businesses. These industries are subject to extensive hygiene rules by the authorities.

Disinfection in the private sphere: sparingly and selectively

Using disinfectants in household settings is not ideal. Their widespread and uncontrolled use poses health risks and can lead to drug-resistant pathogens. Conventional household cleaners, soap and water are usually sufficient to ensure the necessary level of hygiene. However, it is a good idea to disinfect hands and surfaces when caring for sick relatives or relatives otherwise in need of care.

What are disinfectants used for?

Not every disinfectant will automatically work against every type of pathogen. The manufacturer will indicate the product’s effective uses using the following terms:

  • bactericidal: effective against bacteria
  • fungicidal: effective against fungus
  • sporocidal: effective against spores
  • virucidal: effective against all types of viruses (i.e. enveloped and non-enveloped viruses)
  • partially virucidal: effective only against enveloped viruses (e.g. novel coronaviruses, influenza, HIV, hepatitis B and C)
  • partially virucidal PLUS: effective against enveloped viruses and a few key non-enveloped viruses (e.g. norovirus)
  • tuberculocidal: specially developed to be effective against tuberculosis bacteria

Many disinfectants are effective against a broad spectrum of pathogens, acting simultaneously as a bactericidal, fungicidal, tuberculocidal and (partially) virucidal agent.

Hand sanitiser: important information on Sterilium and other popular brands

Our hands truly are a magnet for germs: Some 80% of all pathogens are transmitted by our hands! In the healthcare sector in particular, hand disinfection is a key part of the system to maintain good hygiene. High demands are placed on hand sanitisers: They need to be effective against pathogens while irritating the skin as little as possible. With continued use in particular, it is important for hand sanitiser not to interfere with the skin’s function as a protective barrier. When buying hand sanitiser, pay attention to these criteria:

Active ingredients

The main active ingredient in hand sanitisers like Sterilium brand products is alcohol (ethanol, propanol) at a concentration of between 60 and 95 percent. Some manufacturers also use substances like chlorhexidine, ammonium compounds or hydrogen peroxide to enhance their products’ effectiveness. However, these dry the hands out significantly more than alcohol, which is usually better tolerated.

Perfumes and dyes

It is often not the active ingredient itself that is to blame when hand sanitisers irritate the skin. Added perfumes and dyes can cause irritation of the skin or even allergic reactions and should therefore be avoided as part of your regular hand sanitising routine.

Moisturising, nourishing ingredients

You don’t have to put up with dry hands: Many popular hand sanitisers contain nourishing ingredients like glycerine. These ingredients moisturise the hands and renew the skin’s protective lipid layer.

Surface disinfection: finding the right product depends on these criteria

Some pathogens can remain on surfaces for weeks or even months and can cause infections on contact, so regular surface disinfection is part of any comprehensive hygiene plan. Depending on this hygiene plan, disinfection should be carried out routinely and preventively or as needed when surfaces come into contact with infectious material. When disinfecting surfaces, you have the choice of a range of different formulations depending on the following criteria:

Disinfectant sprays or wipes

Surface disinfectants can be dispensed by spraying or wiping. Disinfectant sprays allow you to treat hard-to-reach areas easily. However, they do produce aerosols that can irritate the skin, mucous membranes and airway. From a health standpoint, disinfectant wipes are therefore preferable wherever possible.

Material compatibility

Many surface disinfectants contain alcohol, which destroys pathogens quickly and effectively. However, alcohol can damage sensitive surfaces so it is not suitable for

  • plastics
  • synthetic leather
  • plexiglass and acrylic glass
  • varnished or coated surfaces
  • aluminium and linoleum (disinfectant wipes containing alcohol are suitable to a limited extent)

Some disinfectants contain aldehydes, which also work well against pathogens like bacteria and viruses. However, surface disinfectants containing aldehydes are not suitable for


  • glass
  • metal
  • ceramic

Skin friendliness

There’s another reason aldehydes can be problematic: They can dry the hands out more than alcohol-based formulations. Therefore, to protect the skin, use aldehyde-free surface disinfectants whenever possible. Another good option is to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) such as disposable gloves and gowns when disinfecting surfaces. This prevents the skin and hands from coming into direct contact with the disinfectant solution. High-quality personal protective equipment (PPE) is available in our online shop.

Convenient hand and surface disinfection: disinfectant wipes

One alternative to surface disinfectant solutions and liquid or gel hand sanitiser is disinfectant wipes. They usually come packaged as wet wipes in practical dispenser boxes. Dry wipes are also available for use by soaking them in disinfectant. Disinfectant wipes are ideal time savers for disinfecting small-scale surfaces like doorknobs, toilet seats or dentist’s chairs. When disinfecting sensitive surfaces (synthetic leather, plastics, plexiglass and acrylic glass), please ensure the disinfectant you are using does not contain any alcohol.

Essential accessories: hand sanitiser dispensers

Dispensers are great in places where hand sanitiser always needs to be readily available. They can be permanently installed or temporarily placed at certain critical points, such as directly at a patient’s bedside or at the entrance areas of hospitals, schools and other public buildings. The products available on the market differ as follows:


Hand sanitiser dispensers made of plastic are usually the most cost-effective option. Somewhat more expensive, but also higher quality and more durable, are products made of metal or aluminium.

Reusable or disposable containers

You can choose between refillable hand sanitiser dispensers and those that simply require swapping out a standardised, disposable Euro bottle. While disposable bottles are more convenient and secure, they also increase the amount of waste produced.

Dispensing method

To ensure hygienic hand disinfection, sanitiser dispensers should be require as little contact as possible. Ideally, dispensers will be fitted with motion sensors. However, products with levers that can be operated with the elbow are also suitable. Direct contact between hands and the dispenser should be avoided as much as possible.

Buy Sterillium and other popular disinfectants online

We offer you proven, tested surface disinfection and hand sanitiser products, including Sterillium brand products, at fair prices. Our products are always available and come in different packaging sizes. If you want to keep up to date on all the latest news and special offers, simply subscribe to our newsletter.