Cleaning changed during the pandemic

It’s an exaggeration to claim that the COVID-19 pandemic strengthened us and more resilient, but it has definitely improved our health. The industry of cleaning products has seen an unprecedented demand for its products and services in the last two years. Based on industry experts most of the changes COVID-19 has brought about on the market will stay present for many years to come.

It’s not a particularly bad thing for the chemical companies who make the components used in cleaning products.

For instance for example, at Stepan which is a major manufacturer in surfactants as well as quaternary ammonium dispersants North American surfactant sales increased by 8 percent in 2020 over the year prior. According to Stepan describes in its annual financial statement for 2020 “The sales volume growth was primarily due to higher demand for products sold into the consumer product end markets, driven by increased demand for cleaning, disinfection and personal wash products as a result of COVID-19.”

Melissa Hockstad, CEO of the American Cleaning Institute (ACI) which is an industry-focused group, defines 2020-2021 as a “once-in-a-century type of market.” The ACI’s members include consumer products manufacturers such as Procter & Gamble, ingredient producers like Dow as well as chemical distribution companies. While Hockstad does not expect the sales of cleaning products to remain in the sky, she anticipates that people and businesses will be able to enshrine the majority of their current cleaning practices as the norm going forward.

“It’s not a fad where we’re expecting some significant drop-off as we look to this year and beyond,” Hockstad declares. “I think the behaviors that really became part of the norm during the pandemic we’ll see continuing as we look ahead.”

The patterns of behavior that ingredient manufacturers have observed are similar to the those that consumers have observed. “Consumers significantly increased their standard for cleaning during the pandemic,” claims Amita Gupta who is a vice president of BASF responsible for industrial, home and commercial cleaning across North America. “They started cleaning more often and wanted products with strong claims on performance, especially disinfection.”

What’s interesting is that it is that we don’t like to change and change, don’t you think? When we alter something, it can be very difficult to return.

Fabio Caravieri the head of marketing worldwide for consumer and industrial specifics, Clariant

Chemical maker Evonik Industries saw an increase in sales to the cleaning products industry in 2021 as compared to 2020, according to Derek Dagostino, who leads marketing for cleaning ingredients at the company.

However, one interesting thing about the research can be that the craze for disinfectant wipes and bleach has diminished.


Although some trends have waned industry experts say that the majority of COVID-19-related changes in the market for cleaning products will likely to remain.

Impact to increase in 2022

Cleaning and disinfection of facilities

The pressure from consumers is causing the need for thorough and visible sanitation practices in public spaces.

Condensed formulas

A greater potency at lower volumes reduces shipping and packaging costs and enhances the sustainability of the product.

Ingredient transparency

Customers who are educated can read labels.

Multifunctional items

Cleaning products that can be simplified without sacrificing efficacy are very popular.

Diverse disinfectant chemistries

Consumers who are educated are more tolerant of the new ingredients, while older ingredients have concerns about their environmental and harshness.

Reduced kill time

Since kill times have increased from 10 minutes to 30 seconds The rule of decreasing returns has taken over.

Active and catalytically-clean surfaces

The technique doesn’t get rid of dirt, and this could conceal bacteria that are beyond the reach of the surface chemistry.

Home disinfection at the daily time

Cleaning up is more likely to be permanent however, the rate of disinfection is declining from the time of its peak.

Commercial laundry disinfecting soapsoaks

Industrial workflows don’t work with the presoak process, but postwash treatments may be more efficient.

Cart for retail as well as item decontamination

This fashion fad has become commonplace for most customers.

booths for misting and disinfection

The fad has almost completely gone, unless it is in extreme circumstances.

Sources: American Cleaning Institute, Clariant, Ecolab, Evonik Industries, UNX Industries.

While sales of surfactants in the field were booming in 2021, disinfectant components were lower than in 2020. Dagostino credits the change from a obsessive about cleaning and disinfection to more balanced, the increased awareness of consumers. To combat SARS-CoV-2, a COVID-19 virus Most surfaces don’t require continuous disinfection, but they require regular cleaning, he adds.

The need to clean surfaces isn’t as great as it was thought to be. After publishing numerous methods to kill SARS-CoV-2 on hard surfaces in 2020 the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its guidelines in April 2021. It now states that respiratory droplets in the air are the most common vectors for transmission. A CDC webpage on surfaces states that “It is possible for people to be infected through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects (fomites), but the risk is generally considered to be low.”

In the same way cleaning is a method to feel a sense of strength over the infection. “People take comfort in cleaning,” Dagostino says. Dishwashing and laundry routines are efficient against SARS-CoV-2 throughout So surfaces and hands provide people the opportunity to play active part in scrubbing the disease off.

The general public also grew accustomed to cleaning their surfaces. “We tend to have these consumption habits,” says Fabio Caravieri, director of the global market for consumer and industrial speciality chemical products at Clariant. “And the thing that is fascinating is we don’t like change and change, don’t you think? However, when we alter something, it’s extremely difficult to go back.”

Rebecca Watters, an analyst for the company that conducts market studies, Mintel she says the polling results she observes suggests that demand for disinfectants doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. “Consumers remain highly conscious of the virus and other invisible health threats,” she declares. “Only 31% of people say they’ll less clean after the outbreak is over. In addition only 25% of people who use cleaners for their surfaces are saying they’ll be less concerned about the decontamination of items in the house once the COVID-19 outbreak is over.”

The dips in home care because of new information on the transmission of disease or reopening of schools and business have been tempered by a rise in demand for institutional services according to Aaron Lee, vice president of industrial cleaning and home care with the company that distributes chemicals Univar Solutions.

“Early in the pandemic, it was all about having a safe home environment,” Lee states. After people have come out of quarantine Lee says they want to remain in clean and safe settings. “So things like hospitality, hotels, restaurants, and airlines–people expect those to be as clean as they do their homes.”

The distinction between institutional and home cleaning has been blurred in many ways. “There is also a consumer desire for psychological safety that has increased the value of brand recognition,” says Matt Bierman, Dow’s North America market manager for institutional and industrial cleaning. “Practically speaking, this has created more opportunities in the janitorial space for brands that had previously been home-care focused as companies seek to reassure the weary consumer outside of the home.”

Certain public-space transmission-fighting measures, such as disinfection tents and drones armed with misters, were fads and are mostly gone, Bierman says. But the intense cleaning methods that are high touch, fast-flowing areas will likely to remain. Businesses are cleaning and they’d like to witness them doing it.

Ryan Cotroneo, chief technology officer of the cleaning chemical company UNX Industries, says the numerous businesses that have begun wiping down or otherwise cleaning equipment between customers will continue do so long after COVID-19 is no longer an issue for them on a daily basis.

To facilitate cleaning between customers the ingredient manufacturers have been working to cut down on dwell time, which is the length of time that chemicals needs to remain wet on a surface in order to remove germs. Quaternary ammonium compounds, also known as quats are the disinfectants that are present in the majority of ready-to-use wipes, a variety of sprays, as well as a variety of industrial and institutional cleaning products.

When the pandemic, kill claims that were approved from the US Environmental Protection Agency for the majority of quats required 10 minutes of dwell time. Today, many companies provide formulas that kill in just 30 seconds. Intensifying the quantity of disinfectant chemicals within the formulations is the primary method to speed up the elimination of bacteria as per Cotroneo.

Cotroneo claims he’s seen the increase in popularity of different disinfectant chemicals. Other than bleach, which has proven efficient however, it’s limited in how it is used, peroxides, reducing agents, such as lactic acid and citric as well as a handful of essential oils from plants are now on the list N which is the EPA’s database of products that are considered to be efficient against SARS-CoV-2. Some of those nonbleach, nonquat formulations are able to last for less than one minute.

The bright side of this epidemic is a greater scientifically knowledgeable population, or at least in certain areas Mintel’s Watters states. “We’re seeing consumers pay a lot more attention to different claims and those different ingredients.” The increased acceptance of more obscure disinfectants is one of the results.

“A lot more consumers are taking it upon themselves to be researching these different products,” she says, as the stakes are now higher. “If I’m purchasing something that’s not working It’s not just about making money. It’s about the security and protection of my house.”

Concentration is a trend that goes beyond the disinfectant ingredient. Online shopping for cleaning supplies is booming due to the pandemic Watters states and nobody wants to shell out to ship the water into traditional liquid cleaners.

The ACI’s Hockstad states that concentrates are experiencing the biggest growth for home laundry, particularly through the use of pods. The trend appears to be durable partly due to the fact that retailers and brands are making sure to lock in the gains through subscription models.

Since higher concentrations result in smaller packaging and less fuel used for shipping, it aligns with sustainability, a topic that was more prevalent throughout the pandemic than people believed it would. Packaging is a huge expense, according to Caravieri and therefore, brands could earn greater profits from concentrates that use less packaging.

Chemicals in concentrates are different, one which some executives call an ingredient that will be the future of our industry.

It’s not a trend that we’re anticipating a significant decline in the coming year and the next.

Melissa Hockstad, CEO, American Cleaning Institute

“The more we move in the direction of high concentration, I see a transition from using traditional surfactants like lauryl ether sulfates or anionic surfactants to using more sophisticated technologies like soil-release polymers and enzymes,” Caravieri declares. “Of course, they’re more expensive, but in the high-concentrate formulations, they usually have a better cost-performance ratio than just adding additional load of surfactants.”

Following the frenzy of the year 2000, “excessive” cleaning faded for the majority of households by 2021 BASF’s Gupta states. What remained are customers who want higher quality cleaning supplies. “Consumers want the same feeling of clean,” she states, “but they want to be confident about their buying choices, and aren’t looking to be inconvenienced. They are looking for quick, simple cleaning solutions that are safe for their families as well as our environment.

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