Most shoppers these days are able to routinely buy common household items like toilet paper, paper towels, pasta and beans that were in short supply in the early weeks of the pandemic. But Clorox wipes remain stubbornly elusive.
With cleanliness on the minds of many guarding against the virus, the wipes have become the pandemic version of the must-have toy of the holiday season. Across social media, shoppers share where and when to find wipes made by Clorox, or Lysol — which is owned by Reckitt Benckiser Group — or wipes from other brands. (Only Clorox and a handful of other wipes have been approved by regulators to kill coronavirus.)
All of the hullabaloo around its disinfecting wipes has been a strange turn of events for Clorox, which started making and selling liquid bleach as a household cleaning product back in 1916, and presents a big challenge for Linda Rendle, a 17-year veteran of the company who took over as its chief executive officer in mid-September.
The company said it was struggling because demand for the wipes had surged 500 percent in the past few months. After increasing production, Clorox is making one million canisters of disinfecting wipes each day. (Executives wouldn’t say how that compared with before the pandemic.) It plans to further increase production early next year.
Before the pandemic, Clorox — which also makes Glad trash bags, Kingsford charcoal and Pine Sol cleaner — told Wall Street analysts that, at best, the company would see a 1 percent increase in sales for its fiscal year 2020.