America's Ebola Preppers Go Shopping for Clorox

America's Ebola Preppers Go Shopping for Clorox
Sales of cleaning products have soared over the past few weeks, and scores of worried customers on social media want to know if their household products can stop Ebola (Photograph by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)
Photograph by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

“I’m glad, given the Ebola scare, you’re still shaking my hand,” Jon Stewart greeted his Daily Show guest Bill O’Reilly last night. Then he pushed a bottle of hand sanitizer toward O’Reilly and told him, “Everything is going to be OK.”

Stewart was poking fun at O’Reilly, who on his show, The O’Reilly Factor, has been freaking out about Ebola in a way that his Fox News colleague Kristen Powers told him was “bordering on hysterical.” But even if most people are not yet calling for the head of the Centers of Disease Control & Prevention to resign—as O’Reilly has been—there does seem to be a general agreement that, well, a few extra squirts of hand sanitizer couldn’t hurt.

Sales of cleaning products have soared over the past few weeks, according to Nielsen data collected by Deutsche Bank (and reported by AdAge). Clorox has jumped the most so far, with a 28 percent sales boost over last month. General disinfectants were up nearly 13 percent, and hand sanitizer sales have climbed 8 percent.

Lysol’s Facebook page is currently overrun by people asking if its products will help them fight the deadly, incurable virus. “Does Lysol work on Ebola??” an Illinois woman named Stacey Henderson recently asked, noting that the product she purchased does not mention Ebola-killing properties on its can. “Does Lysol Spray kill the Ebola virus on hard surfaces?” a woman named Carrie asked. “If so, how long should it remain on the surface? Does it kill it on soft surfaces? Again, how long?” The Clorox Facebook page is similarly overrun.

According to both the CDC and the Association for Professionals in Infection Control & Epidemiology, only hospital-grade, EPA-approved cleaners should be used on areas contaminated with Ebola. Surprisingly, that includes some household products made from companies such as Lysol and Clorox.

Lysol has updated its website with a flashy graphic and easy-to-find information about its products’ effectiveness against Ebola. Its disinfectant sprays are EPA-approved for hospitals. While they haven’t been formally tested on Ebola, Lysol says that “based on their ability to kill similar as well as harder-to-kill viruses, these products are likely to be effective against the Ebola virus.”

Clorox isn’t quite so forward with its Ebola information, although its bleach and disinfectant wipes also meet the CDC’s hospital-grade criteria. The company has recently shipped 12,000 bottles of bleach to infected regions in West Africa.

“Clorox, we are all looking at you. ‪#‎ebola‬,” a woman named Meg Mo wrote on the company’s Facebook page earlier today. Or as a man named Justin Van Elsberg put it, “Help us Clorox, you’re our only hope.”

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