Consumers hunting for Clorox wipes to disinfect counters and surfaces from the coronavirus will face difficulties until at least “mid-2021," the company’s chief operating officer, Eric Reynolds, told NBC News.
The new date represents the third time the company has pushed back availability of the wipes, which were one of the first things to disappear in stores as the pandemic took hold, along with toilet paper and paper towels.
In May, the company said supplies would be ready by this summer. In August, an executive said it would take until at the least the end of 2020. Yet at year’s close, the wipes are still hard to find on the shelves — or going for a premium via online resellers.
Some families have resorted to cutting wipes in half and giving them to their neighbors.
Clorox has ramped up capacity, making and shipping 1 million canisters every day and hiring more than 2,000 employees worldwide. But that’s still not enough to meet demand that has surged 500 percent since the start of the pandemic.
“Our plants are running 24/7,” Reynolds said. “We know that consumers are very frustrated with us.”
The biggest holdup is the cloth itself, made from nonwoven polypropylene, a plastic that is also used in face masks, which comes from specialized suppliers. China is the world’s largest producer of polypropylene polymer. Global demand for all three products has soared during the pandemic.
A slowdown in production of plastic canisters at factories, which are also “trying to protect their workers,” Reynolds said, has also held back production at times.
In the meantime, consumers can ask store clerks to find out when delivery days are to time their supermarket trips, and sign up for “back-in-stock email alerts” from their stores.
Clorox wipes also aren’t the only solution. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says any 70 percent alcohol solution will work, as well as hydrogen peroxide. Pine-Sol and bathroom cleaners can also be used to disinfect surfaces. Even cleaning surfaces with soap and water can inactivate the virus, the agency said.