Clorox Will Not Have Enough Disinfecting Wipes Until 2021, According to CEO

Grocery stores won't be fully stocked with Clorox wipes until next year, CEO Benno Dorer told Reuters Monday, revealing that even after ramping up production, the company has struggled to keep up with the astronomical demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic. While the California-based company typically keeps an extra supply for flu season, Dorer said it has been unable to keep pace with the six-fold increase in demand for its disinfectants. While some products, like liquid bleach, will be more available in the next four to six months, Dorer said wipes will take longer to restock successfully.

"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 said, explaining that many wipes are made from polyester spun lace, which is a material currently in short supply, as it is also a crucial material in manufacturing personal protective equipment such as masks, medical gowns and medical wipes. "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 that we have," Dorer said.

Experts told the TODAY show back in March that sales of aerosol disinfectants were up 385% that month from the same time the previous year, and the sale of multi-purpose cleaners was up nearly 150% from that same time period, with Clorox selling as much in one week as it was selling in a typical month. Dorer in May told TODAY that Clorox expected for the shelves to be fully stocked by this summer, saying at the time, "We know that right now we cannot make enough products for everybody to find products at the store all the time. But we're making tremendous progress. We think we will be in substantially better shape by the summer."

Since that estimate, Dorer told Reuters the company had made "major" capital investments to ramp up output each quarter, including simplifying the disinfectant product line-up at factories that every hour of every day of the year. The company also began outsourcing some manufacturing 10 third-party suppliers and has plans to continue looking for more partners.

There are ways to make your own disinfectant wipes at home, the CDC advises, using either a solution of Bleach (at least 1000ppm sodium hypochlorite) and water on paper towels or reusable clothes or a solution of Isopropyl alcohol or ethanol. For the bleach wipes, depending on the volume you're looking to make, the ratios are either 5 tablespoons of bleach to 1 gallon of water or 4 teaspoons bleach to 1 quart of water, and the wipes are to be submerged in the liquid for at least five minutes. The same instructions apply for making alcohol wipes — if using 91% isopropyl alcohol, mix 7 cups of alcohol with 3 cups of water. If using 95% ethanol, mix 6 cups of alcohol with 4 cups of water.