A disinfecting wipe sticking out of the top of its container

When it became evident that COVID-19 would be a problem in the United States back in March, millions of people darted out in droves to grocery stores and pharmacy chains to stack up on hand sanitizers, soap, toilet paper and disinfectant wipes. As a result, there were national and international shortages of these products. Luckily, hand soap and toilet paper have once again been made available. The wipes, however, have yet to make a return due to supply chain issues, reports Slate.

Some of the materials needed to manufacture disinfectant wipes are hard to come by. Brian Sansoni, senior vice president of the American Cleaning Institute, tells Slate that restrictions placed on factories in China  has made it harder for American companies to get quaternary ammonium compounds. These compounds are the chemicals used in cleaning wipes and spays to disinfect. The companies that make and sell those plastic tubes for hand sanitizing wipes are having trouble keeping up with demand. Even the fabrics that make the wipes are difficult to obtain because those same materials are being used to support the growing demand for face masks.

Another issue are the outbreaks occurring right now. Certain parts of the country have "opened up" more than others, and some cities and states are suffering a lot with outbreaks as a result. So as Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and California sees their cases spike, their demand for disinfecting products puts even greater strain on the supply chain.

The increased demand for disinfectant wipes during a shortage of supplies has some companies trying to change the way they make and sell the products. However, health and safety regulations limit the amount of change a company can make to its products.

For more on the shortage, read Slate's report here.