Disinfecting wipes, aerosol sprays, and cleaners have become scarce items in stores since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in March, but why exactly are Clorox wipes so hard to find? Even now? Essentially, it all boils down a complex supply chain not being able to keep up with this ongoing heightened demand.
On Aug. 10, Linda Rendle, the President and CEO-elect of Clorox said during an appearance on Good Morning America that while the company is making its disinfecting wipes in record numbers after increased demand and panic buying led to scarcity, it is still trying to keep stores stocked. "We are making nearly 1 million packages of wipes every day and shipping them to stores," she told the news outlet.
But, because they've been so hard to find and the fact that the World Health Organization (WHO) has said the coronavirius pandemic "is not even close to being over", customers are likely to snatch them up as soon as they spot them in stores, meaning this demand probably won't be fully met for some time. Especially considering that cold and flu season is right around the corner.
"Given the fact that cold and flu (season) sits in the middle of the (fiscal) year, we expect the pandemic to be with us for the entirety of the year," Rendle told company shareholders in a call on Aug. 3. "It will take a full year to get up to supply levels that we need to be at."
Clorox CEO Benno Dorner told Reuters earlier this month that wipes will remain scarce until 2021 because of the "complex supply chain" that goes into making them. "Disinfecting wipes, which are the hottest commodity in the business right now, will probably take longer because it's a very complex supply chain to make them," Dorer told Reuters. "That entire supply chain is stressed....We feel like it's probably going to take until 2021 before we're able to meet all the demand we have."
What makes it so complex? As CNBC has explained, disinfecting wipes are made with a material that is also found in certain personal protective equipment (PPE) like medical gowns and masks, which has contributed to the shortage.
Another reason why the demand is so high is surely because Clorox wipes are a part of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s list of products that can be used against the coronavirus. In order to make it on the list, products must be effective against COVID-19, or are effective against a virus that is worse than or similar to COVID-19.
While speaking with Good Morning America, Rendle acknowledged that it's frustrating that the wipes have been so hard to find. "We thank everybody for their patience, we know it's hard when you're looking for them," Rendle said on Good Morning America.
Until stores are fully stocked, Rendle encouraged people to sign up for restock alerts at places like Walmart.com so they can be instantly notified when they're available for purchase. She also suggested checking with your local store managers to see when they're getting wipes restocked so they can plan their shopping trips accordingly.
And if you simply can't get your hands on Clorox wipes, the company says people can still effectively sanitize their homes by making a disinfecting solution with Clorox bleach, a product Rendle said is in a "good in stock position right now."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that the coronavirus can live on surfaces for a few hours up to a few days. So routinely cleaning your home with disinfectant — especially high-touch surfaces like door knobs and light switches — is certainly important, especially if you have people coming and going. And while it may be tempting to stock up as soon as you see a batch of wipes at the grocery store, it's also important to be considerate of others.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here.