The American Cleaning Institute (ACI)

Responding to a National Hand Sanitizer Shortage

SC Johnson
sc johnson

Across the cleaning product supply chain, companies have increased production, adapted manufacturing lines, donated money and resources, and taken extra measures to protect their employees. Here is one such story from SC Johnson. See our full COVID-19 Impact Report for more.

When Patrick Harris, Senior Director, R&D at SC Johnson, first sent out a note asking for volunteers to make hand sanitizer for donation to first responders, health workers and the company’s own production employees, he wasn’t sure what response he was going to get. His team members, who had been working from home, typically didn’t staff production lines.

Nevertheless, every person he asked was willing to help. Managers across the company gave their support, allowing team members to take time away from their regular projects to help convert a line typically reserved for testing new products and run it to make hand sanitizer.

Patrick and his team of volunteer line workers moved quickly to build out new capacity at Waxdale, the company’s largest global manufacturing facility, located in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin. Their goal: to manufacture up to 75,000 bottles of hand sanitizer per month.

“Every single person we asked was willing to help. I’ve had managers from across the company come to me and tell me they have other employees that want to help out.”

Patrick Harris, Senior Director, R&D, SC Johnson

About a week after their first meeting, the volunteers started making their first bottles of hand sanitizer. As they received additional equipment, they optimized the layout of the processing area to run the line faster and produce more, while also ensuring that appropriate social distancing and other safety precautions were in place. At times, this layout changed daily as they continued to improve their process.

To help jump-start production, the team at SC Johnson partnered with Dow, which made a one-time contribution of bulk hand sanitizer to produce 25,000 eight-ounce bottles. SC Johnson returned approximately 12,500 bottles to Dow for distribution to Dow’s production sites to help protect its employees. In the following months, the converted line run by volunteer employees helped to produce approximately 300,000 bottles of hand sanitizer for donation to those on the front lines. 

As a special thanks to those on the front lines of the pandemic, the volunteers put personal notes of gratitude and encouragement into the cases of donated hand sanitizer.

Across the cleaning product supply chain, companies have stepped up to protect communities from COVID-19.