The rise of the Delta variant is prolonging the pandemic. Many more Americans will receive booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines starting this fall. Face coverings are making a comeback in schools and businesses. Experts recommend one other safeguard against the virus: The careful disinfecting of surfaces. Fortunately, supplies of disinfectant products remain available thanks to government directives and private initiatives.

We’ve all grown accustomed over the last year and half to thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting our homes, workstations, and dining areas as a precaution. Those activities should not wane.

The reason: Certain disinfectant products can protect us from the disease. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has publicly delineated the products that can kill or are effective against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The agency’s List N, which names these products, has become a must-read as a result for consumers, employers, and workers.

These safe and effective cleansers and disinfectants are vital to protecting our homes and businesses.

That impact is not new. Disinfectants played similar roles against Ebola, the swine flu, and SARS. Without them, the positive outcome of those diseases might have been very different.

Cleanliness was always a common practice. Many companies and individuals were already cleaning and disinfecting high-touch areas before the pandemic. But COVID-19 persuaded them to do so more often and with greater care. The result was increased demand for these effective products that continues to this day.

Manufacturers put their factories into 24/7 operations to keep pace. The federal government helped make sure that happened despite the pandemic. The Department of Homeland Security declared disinfectant and cleanser manufacturers and their workers to be essential. That was vital to keeping products rolling and store shelves filled then and now.

Cleaning and disinfecting activities have become a basic protocol. Deep cleaning is routine not just for health reasons but also to reassure Americans. The government should continue to designate cleanser and disinfectant manufacturers and their employees as essential. We cannot let down our guard until COVID-19 is under better control.

The manufacturers have also pledged to do their best to keep up with demand and to work with federal authorities to update List N. The Household & Commercial Products Association continues to work with the EPA on behalf of member companies to ensure that disinfectants are available to combat COVID-19.

Thanks in part to this cooperation, the EPA has been able to approve disinfectants in as little as two weeks compared to the three months the process used to take. This has put effective cleaning and disinfecting products in stores quickly and consistently.

The EPA’s steadfast work in both approval and labeling has helped slow the spread of this virus and American families and companies have benefited.

The appearance of the Delta variant has been shocking, but it has strengthened the resolve of the manufacturers of cleaning and disinfecting products. They are more determined than ever to provide their customers with the products they need to keep their homes and workplaces safe. They will be able to do so if they have the continued help of federal regulators.

Steve Caldeira is president and CEO of the Household & Commercial Products Association.

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