Toilet paper is back on the shelves and it’s easy to find hand sanitizers, but disinfectant wipes and sprays are still missing in action. Industry experts say their scarcity is simply due to the laws of supply and demand.
While sales of the handy coronavirus-killing wipes more than doubled in the past two months, the demand has surpassed 500%, making it impossible for manufacturers to keep up with the pace.
“We’re shipping canisters of wipes every day to our customers, and within 30-45 minutes they’re gone form the shelves,” said Clorox finance chief Kevin Jacobsen. “Demand has outstripped what anybody could have imagined.”
According to The Wall Street Journal, disinfectant wipes are difficult to manufacture. The process involves combining fabric wipes with a cleaning solution. The Environmental Protection Agency has stringent criteria in place for cleaners to be considered effective for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Unlike toilet paper, only half of American households kept disinfectant wipes on hand before the pandemic, says Jacobsen. This contributed to an even greater demand than expected, as existing customers competed for supplies with new clients eager to stay safe against the virus.
Clorox is working around the clock and calling on third-party manufacturers to help.
But officials say that it will take time before disinfectant wipes make a full reappearance on store shelves. Clorox Chairman and CEO Benno Dorer said, “We think there’s going to be a substantial improvement this summer,” according to USA Today.
Lysol recently apologized to consumers for not being able to deliver enough product and said it is working to restock as quickly as possible.
“We are experiencing unprecedented and accelerated demand,” the company said, according to the Journal.
Companies that manufacture cleaning products and disinfectants are betting that consumers will continue the sanitary habits created by the coronavirus crisis long after the pandemic subsides.
Laxman Narasimhan, the chief executive of Reckitt Benckiser Group, that manufactures Lysol as well as other disinfectants, predicts the cleaning craze will persist, and that new and improved sanitizing products will hit the market in the near future.
“Over time, we fully expect there will be more fundamental changes happening as people will want to be in a cleaner environment,” he told The Wall Street Journal. His comments echo those of Dove soap owner Unilever which said last week it also anticipates brisk sales of cleaning products for houses and hands to continue.
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