UPDATE 8/5/2020 - Clorox says its shortage of disinfecting wipes will continue into 2021. (USA Today)

If you're like us, every trip to the store my wife and I always check the cleaning aisle for some of disinfectant for the house and office. But it's been very hard to find. Brands like Clorox, Lysol, anything Purell, is almost non-existent in Sioux Falls. I'm sure there are a few shipments coming in but perhaps our timing isn't right. We're guessing that it hits the shelves and then almost instantly disappears. Hoarders? Panic buyers? The evil resell-for-profit folks? Maybe not in all cases. But I had to dig a little to find an explanation.

According to Patrick Penfield, a supply-chain-management professor at Syracuse University, “You’re talking about a pretty complicated supply chain, and so it’s very difficult to be able to ramp up and produce. The other issue you have is capacity. So even if they were able to get the ingredients, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have the capacity to produce more products.”

Simply put, the popular brands of disinfectants have not been able to keep up with demand and that creates a supply problem. Most of the aforementioned brands use materials such as cans, labels, aluminum from China - and therein lies the problem. Those materials usually take about four weeks to ship and getting the materials from China has been more difficult due to the country coping with its own outbreak earlier this year.

So, when can we expect disinfectants and cleaners to be readily available? Penfield predicts these items likely won’t return to pre-pandemic levels until Fall. But new data shows it might be farther out.

And when they finally arrive, there is very little good that can come from hoarding or buying more than you'll need. Just grab a product or two and be on your way. Panic buying did not work well the first time and it will just create another disruption in supply once again.

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