Featuring 31 tables and 20 figures – now available in Excel and Powerpoint! Learn More
Demand for surface disinfectant and cleaning wipes is expected to advance 1.1% per year off a relatively high 2021 base to $736 million in 2026. While this growth rate is relatively slow compared to historical norms, it stems from elevated market levels spurred by pandemic-related sales hikes in 2020. Due to their significant market penetration over these two years, demand will remain well above pre-pandemic levels throughout the forecast period.
Surface disinfectant and cleaning wipe sales will also be supported by:
- consistent increases in the industrial and institutional market, with both healthcare and foodservice returning to pre-pandemic levels of operation and usage
- product development that improves the functionality and environmental profile of available cleaning wipes, thereby increasing adoption among consumers
Demand for Surface Disinfectant Wipes to Remain Elevated
Efforts to prevent transmission of COVID-19 in 2020 led many to abruptly adopt the use of wipes, and all users – new or established – used wipes in large quantities that year, as they adopted behaviors such as wiping down all purchases. Though this extreme usage was unsustainable over the long term, demand for surface disinfectant wipes remained quite elevated in 2021 as more was learned about the pandemic and new variants swept through the population.
As a result of these elevated sales levels, major wipes suppliers have made significant investments to expand domestic production capacities for surface disinfectant wipes, in some cases enlisting contract manufacturers to help supplement their own lines.
While consumer use of surface disinfectant wipes has toned down in 2022, changes in behavior patterns and increases in commercial usage will sustain the market. Cleaning regimens in industrial, commercial, and institutional settings – which are meant to address healthcare associated infections (HAIs), foodborne illnesses, and other potential viruses – remain rigorous.
Growth in Non-Household Markets Supports Overall Gains
Surface disinfectant and cleaning wipe demand in non-household markets rebounded in 2021 following a depressed 2020, which was directly attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic. The foodservice market was negatively impacted by restaurant closures, while hospitals cancelled non-emergent procedures and focused more on telehealth. Going forward, both markets will continue to grow as:
- foodservice revenues rise and the number of restaurants and other foodservice establishments increases
- healthcare spending increases due to an aging population and an uptick in surgical procedures
By far, the people most likely to purchase wipes are those who have children living at home; 93% of them indicated buying disposable wipes in the preceding 12 months. This demographic includes people who are looking for quick cleaning solutions, as well as those who have small children and need baby wipes or toilet paper alternatives. Because people in this group also tend to be younger and married/partnered, they are, by association, more likely to have bought wipes than unmarried/unpartnered people and older consumers. While older consumers were less likely to purchase wipes than their younger counterparts, this is somewhat attributable to presence of children in the household and the potential for wipes to be purchased by caregivers.
Wipes purchasing trends are consistent across genders. Women are traditionally considered the primary buyers and users of personal care wipes, but survey data indicate little gender-based difference in habits over the preceding 12 months. This is likely due to changes attributable to the pandemic, as well as the fact that versions of wipes aimed at men (particularly younger men) are increasingly being marketed.
Demand by Market
Surface disinfectant wipes accounted for 76% of surface disinfectant and cleaning wipes demand in 2021, totaling $528 million. The market surged in 2020 as COVID-19 spread around the globe; consumers quickly bought up available retail supplies, pushing producers to expand manufacturing by:
- running production lines 24/7
- focusing resources on surface disinfectant wipes and diverting assets originally intended for other types
- investing in new productions lines and facilities to boost long-term production capabilities
In addition, commercial market end users implemented more stringent sanitization protocols to mitigate spread of the virus, further boosting sales. In particular, healthcare facilities and other public-facing settings (such as offices, educational facilities, and retail and foodservice establishments) expanded their regimens of surface disinfection to address the virus.
Although sales of surface disinfectant wipes did not surge again in 2021 as consumers used up their stockpiles and changed cleaning habits (the latter attributable to less concern about surface transmission), demand remained elevated well beyond pre-pandemic levels. This was at least partially because businesses continued pandemic disinfecting protocols for the benefit of customers and employees.
Demand for surface disinfectant wipes is expected to grow less than 1.0% annually to $549 million in 2026, remaining well above pre-pandemic levels through the forecast period. Demand for these products will continue to be sustained by increased consumer awareness about general disease transmission via surfaces, such as:
- kitchen countertops, cutting boards, sinks, and refrigerator and cabinet door handles
- bathroom door, cabinet, faucet, and toilet knobs and handles
- other high-traffic surfaces such as door knobs/handles, tabletops, and TV remotes
In addition, growth will be bolstered by the healthcare industry’s ongoing concern over cross-contamination and HAIs, which will support stringent protocols for hard surface disinfection and greater wipes use. Wipes will also continue to gain favor in foodservice operations, especially for their ability to effectively sanitize and disinfect surfaces.
Surface disinfectant wipes will benefit from their superior applicating abilities, killing all germs present on the treated surface (when combined with sufficient dwell time):
- In addition to reusable products’ risk of cross-contamination, other disposable alternatives, such as paper towels, can be problematic as well.
- Disinfectants needs to rest on surfaces for certain “dwell times” in order to ensure that they have work properly.
- However, the use of paper towels in surface disinfection makes it likely that the user will wipe up the disinfectant immediately after applying it, limiting the disinfectant’s effectiveness.
- The use of wipes makes it more likely that users will allow the disinfectant to sit for the full dwell time, thereby leading to more effective surface treatments.
However, some consumers remain apprehensive over both the harsh chemicals used in disinfectant wipes and their overall sustainability profile. As such, new product innovations will incorporate botanical-based and other naturally derived disinfectants that alleviate consumers’ fears.