The World Health Organization has recommended frequent hand washing and cleaning as the most effective way of staying virus free, and , many brands of disinfectant wipes like Nice-Pak Sani-Hands, Lysol and Clorox can offer up to six hours; protection against germs and bacteria. This has made wipes a top consumers have been hording them using them to clean their hands, their groceries, hard surfaces…anything that can come in contact with the virus, which can live on some surfaces for two to three days.
The result is two weeks into the pandemic and you would be hard pressed to find a disinfectant wipes in the stores or online. All of the major wipes converters have looked at ways to increase their capacity and up their output but it will be a while before supply is able to meet demand.
This run in disinfectant wipes comes after months of speculation that the wipes supply chain would be impacted by the European Unions Single Use Plastics regulations, which aim to create a more circular economy in the region while lessening its dependence on plastics.
Wipes have repeatedly been mentioned as a plastic-containing product that could be banned as these regulations go into effect. While wipes can certainly be made plastic free—in fact many type already are—the substrate needs to contain a more stable material like plastic to handle disinfectant solution. Therefore, to achieve the level of performance needs to kill germs and viruses, the product needs to contain plastics.
It is too soon to even guess on the long-term effects Covid-19 will have on society—emotionally, physically, financially, mentally—but hopefully for the wipes industry the silver lining will be that consumers better understand how important their contribution is to public health and well being.