Why is There a Shortage of Disinfecting Wipes?
Starting a new year amid the coronavirus pandemic, the supply chains of items such as toilet paper and hand sanitizers are bouncing back. However, one crucial category that’s still struggling is disinfectant wipes. With consumers eager to rid their surfaces of any kind of flu or coronavirus, the production of disinfecting wipes cannot keep up with the overwhelming demand.
One major cause of production delays is the lack of production materials. In an interview with Slate, Brian Sansoni, Senior Vice President of the American Cleaning Institute, says restrictions on factories in China made it difficult for American companies to source quaternary ammonium compounds, which are the antimicrobial disinfectant chemicals found in cleaning wipes and sprays, though the shortage has abated somewhat.
Adding to this is the increased demand on sellers of packaging components for cleaning products. Items like wipe canisters, hand sanitizer pumps, and spray bottles are seeing an increase in orders all at once. According to Slate, the manufacturer Rockline Industries has reportedly been placing its wipes in soft packs to get around the canister shortage. The move to put-ups like soft packs has opened up the market a little, but canisters remain tight with some suppliers. Other companies have been shifting their production lines to focus on their more popular, all-purpose wipes, and some factories are lending out their facilities to help out with larger operations.
In addition, the fabric that disinfectant wipes are made from, polypropylene, is also used to make personal protective equipment like face masks and hospital gowns. Sourcing new or alternative materials is challenging because it could require a change to the content label or the fabric may not be approved by the EPA.
With a growing number of outbreaks happening all over the country, the demand for disinfecting wipes continues to put a strain on the supply chain. Chinese New Year will also impact deliveries going into Q2 with overseas freight issues. Even though companies have been working overtime, we may not see the market loosen up and store shelves stocked with disinfectant wipes until mid-2021.