Clorox ships nearly a million packages of disinfecting wipes to stores across the U.S. every day, and the company expects to boost output 50% to 1.5 million by February. Despite stepping up its production, the company still doesn't expect to fully stock shelves until the middle of next year.
The ongoing shortage of the wipes comes as Clorox grapples with unprecedented consumer demand, which has soared upwards of 500% since the coronavirus pandemic first hit the U.S. in March, according to the company.
"As soon as they're on [the] shelf, people scoop them up," a Clorox spokesperson said in an email to CBS MoneyWatch. "This is not surprising given the continued worsening trends of COVID-19."
A hot commodity amid the still rampaging coronavirus pandemic, the product has been the object of much stockpiling by consumers for months, resulting in increased sales and shortages. Yet while other coveted items such as toilet paper and paper towels are mostly back on retail shelves, disinfecting wipes are not.
"People are suffering, COVID is surging, but everything we know right now — we probably won't be back in the type of in-stock positions, or you know, what people are used to going to the store, until mid-2021," Clorox Chief Operating Officer Eric Reynolds told NBC Nightly News on Thursday.
Clorox manufacturing facilities are running around the clock, and the company is doubling the size of its wipes plant, which it expects to be up and running in February, according to the spokesperson. Additionally, the company has added more than 10 new external manufacturers this year to produce as many wipes as possible.
It's not the first time Clorox has pushed back its expected timeframe for when wipes would be readily available. The company back in August warned that consumers shouldn't expect to see wipes again this year.
Part of the trouble, Clorox explained at the time, is that material used to make wipes, polyester spunlace, is also used in making other in-demand products such as masks and medical gowns, rendering it in short supply.
"We're also also focusing on products that can be made faster and on efforts to expedite products to retailers," the Clorox spokesperson said on Friday.
The good news, according to Clorox, is that consumers have other options for disinfecting their homes. Clorox regular disinfecting bleach should be back on store shelves now, and the company's Pine-Sol original cleaner has received regulatory approval for its claim of being effective in killing the virus that causes COVID-19, the spokesperson noted.
First published on December 11, 2020 / 4:00 PM
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