Covid 19 – Transforming cleaning habits

For a lot of consumers, the habits post Covid-19 lock down will change around the world, including the cleaning of garments, houses and dishes. In some regions, changes will be clearer than others.

Here at DJS Process Consulting Limited, we are predicting that this could drive a step change in the formulation direction of cleaning products.

Researchers have confirmed that coronavirus species, including Covid-19, can live on inanimate surfaces for many days; this also includes clothes, bed linen and towels.

Until a few weeks ago, on average, the general wash cycle used by consumers has been warm to cold. The Centre of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have now recommended that the hottest setting should be used on washing machines, by consumers. Local Health Services such as the NHS (National Health Service in the UK) recommended washing clothes at 60°C or at 40°C with bleach-based laundry detergents to prevent germs from spreading.

It is important to keep in mind that over the years, washing detergents have moved away from powder to liquid (primarily in developed countries). Liquid detergent formulations do not contain bleach, while powder formulations can be compatible with bleach.

Bleach is a generic name of a broad spectrum of versatile ingredients used in disinfecting and sterilising products due to reactivity such as bactericidal properties. Whilst keeping in mind the need to keep clothes clean as recommeneded (to specifically kill unwanted organisms), consumers will naturally start to adopt higher temperatures.

Consumers are more likely to adopt longer cycles, such as ‘Eco’, which tend to be the best option for water/energy efficiency. Consumers will also now be open to detergents that contain bleach (which in the current market, do not exist in liquid form). On powder formulations, it is possible to incorporate bleach activators, that can allow the increase of bactericidal efficiency, even at lower temperatures.

It is also a significant possibility that washing frequency may also increase, due to the recommendations currently in place for example, washing garments as soon as possible to avoid basket/pile build up, which in turn reduces ‘bug’ growth and spread.

Antimicrobial benefits and relevance will not only increase in the laundry area but will also undoubtedly increase in the care of hard surfaces, particularly within the home.

Due to the current lock down situation that we all find ourselves in; with a significant population of people now working from home, use of our homes has never been so active, resulting in increased washing frequency of items such as dishes, cutlery and glassware. This increase in usage may in fact accelerate noticeable surface damage on items such as glassware and some metals. This may therefore suggest that the biggest opportunity could be found in surface protection, rather than cleaning.

Social distancing is also promoting online shopping and this channel can be better exploited by safe to ship/easy to deliver products. Recently, companies have already started to adapt in this area, by addressing compaction (concentrate products) and package (such as refill).

The time is now to take a step back and assess the current market/product situation, with future habits in mind post Covid-19. This is also a great opportunity to leverage more sustainable solutions.

Developing a formulation to meet certain performance targets is relatively easy, the challenge is to develop a successful product. This means:

  • Leverage consumer rights (interpretation of need, desire, perception, delight).
  • Formulation meeting target performance criteria.
  • Identifying affordable raw materials with suitable processing properties.
  • Converting lab scale formula in to a manufacturable proposition with desirable, physical properties – not sticky, flows well, not dusty etc.
  • Developing full supply chain, including packaging, which will be profitable to producer and retailer.
DJS Process Consulting Limited

The DJS Team can help you to innovate and bring to life products to address new consumer needs. Specifically, we have a unique team of consultants who have the knowledge from consumer research to process scale up who can help companies develop a desirable, functioning and profitable new product.

Rute Chieffi, David John Smith, Jose Vega, Nigel Somerville-Roberts, Joshua Koszo