Clorox says disinfectant wipes shortage may last until 2021

If you walk into stores looking for disinfectant wipes, the likelihood of finding any are slim. And today, Clorox is saying that you might have to wait until next year to get your hands on the coveted cleaning product.

In an earnings call earlier this week, Clorox company president and CEO-elect, Linda Rendle, announced the company might not be able to restock the product in stores until next year.

“Given the fact cold and flu (season) sits in the middle of the (fiscal) year, and we expect the pandemic to be with us for the entirety of the year, it will take the full year to get up to the supply levels that we need to be at,” Rendle said Monday during the call.

When the pandemic first hit in March, wipes vanished from store shelves with many scrambling across the country to get their hands on any they could find. Then, as stores ran out, they were prioritized for hospitals and caregivers, which left many consumers like Stacie Wright turning to sales of the sought after cleaning product elsewhere online or to making their own.

“I’ve just been using, like a diluted mix of an antibacterial,” said Stacie Wright, owner of E11even salon in New Jersey. “The shelves still seem to be as bare as they were in the end of March and beginning — you know — April. Which is kind of surprising to me.”

And although Clorox ramped up production, it could not keep up to the dramatic demand.

But it’s not just Clorox, Lysol has also gone missing on shelves too.

“This demand is clearly having an impact on our retailers’ inventory levels,” the Reckitt Benckiser Group, the maker of Lysol, said in a statement to USA Today in April.

Part of the problem is that many companies make wipes using polyester spunlace, a key ingredient also used for personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks and medical gowns, which is now in short supply.

While the wait continues for the return of Clorox disinfectant wipes, the company has promised instead a huge increase in some of its other cleaning products, like liquid bleach, in the coming months.

Some stores like Walmart are also offering an alert system that you can sign up for to see when wipes are available in stores.

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