Surface cleaning wipes have become one of the most important items to have on hand in the workplace due to the increased focus on cleanliness in the wake of COVID-19. Using these products to wipe away germs is a key strategy to keep an environment as sterile as possible.
However, the wipes industry continues to be challenged with rising demand and not enough supply. A variety of factors are contributing to the shortage. According to Brian Sansoni, senior vice president of the American Cleaning Institute, restrictions placed on factories in China that manufacture cleaning wipes have made it harder to obtain certain ammonium compounds, the chemicals that allow certain wipes to disinfect. Cleaning wipe materials are also being diverted to make other kinds of products, such as PPE, contributing to the scarcity.
Adding to the severity of the situation are COVID-19 outbreaks in places that have started to open. States with spikes are grabbing the limited supply that is available to consumers, preventing the overall demand in the marketplace from being met. The shortage is likely to get worse in the coming months. Linda Rendle, Clorox’s CEO posits that, between the upcoming cold and flu season and the continued presence of COVID-19, supply for cleaning wipes will continue to be low.
Due to this ongoing shortage, the market has been flooded with new products to meet the demand, creating confusion as to what wipes can perform what type of cleaning, and which are effective against COVID-19. With these new options available, it’s important to pick the right wipe for the job.
There are three main types of surface wipes: cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting wipes. Generally speaking, cleaning wipes serve the most basic function, removing germs from a surface but not necessarily killing them. Sanitizing wipes can both kill and reduce the number of germs on a given surface, to a safe level as judged by public health standards or requirements. Disinfecting wipes kill existing germs on a surface. Keep in mind products vary, so it’s important to consult the product packaging for more details.
Another key factor to consider is whether a disinfecting wipes is approved to kill the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. “List N” includes all products approved by the EPA. as effective for killing the COVID-19 virus. Products are constantly being added to the list, so even if a wipe is not certified now, it could get approved in the future.
To check and see if a wipe is approved for List N, click here
If obtaining ready-to-use wipes is proving to be too difficult, the do-it-yourself (DIY) route is a good alternative. Certain wipers, such as those made of spunlace, can be submerged in a cleaning solution to create a DIY wipe. When creating your own wipe, it’s important to match the wiper substrate with the right type of cleaning solution. Otherwise, the substrate could disintegrate and diminish the efficacy of the chemical. Always read and follow the directions on the label of the cleaning solution and wipers to ensure safe and effective use.
Another option is to use dry wipers and chemicals in spray bottles. An important factor here is dwell time – the amount of time that a chemical must be in contact with the surface, and remain wet, to be effective. The dry wipe should not be used until the dwell time has been reached. Following product directions is essential to ensure efficacy.
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