Cleaning, hygiene & disinfectant products: An essential sector in the fight against COVID-19

A.I.S.E., the association representing the European manufacturers of cleaning, hygiene and disinfectant products, is an essential sector in the fight against COVID-19 due to its portfolio of products and services. A.I.S.E. and its members are actively supporting authorities and healthcare professionals to manage the current public health crisis, ensuring that essential cleaning, hygiene and disinfectant products can be made available and delivered at a fast pace. Find out more about our engagement here.

1. Cleaning, hygiene & disinfectant products - Why they matter

Our companies manufacture a wide variety of cleaning, hygiene and disinfectant products for different purposes. These are either used for household purposes, or in professional and institutional environments such as hospitals, homes for the elderly and food factories. Our members are also an important provider of hydroalcoholic gel. 

It goes without saying that good hygiene is key to fight the virus, as recommended by WHO, ECDC and national authorities. Disinfectants (for general or human hygiene purposes, or for use in food and feed areas) produced by our professional cleaning and hygiene sector are critical to help combat the spread of the virus in hospitals, as well as in food manufacturing facilities and other key industries. Members of our industry are doing their utmost to provide all public establishments with the products they need to clean and disinfect.

2. Securing fast availability and delivery of disinfectants - Our interaction with EU authorities 

The availability of cleaning, hygiene and disinfectant products is our first priority. Our sector is therefore in close contact with the relevant authorities at EU and national level. In the current crisis, certain raw materials are in short supply, factories may be understaffed, and our member companies are experiencing unprecedented logistical challenges in moving supplies and products across borders. In order to ensure the continued supply of essential cleaning, hygiene and disinfectant products, priority access to raw materials and packaging, as well as logistical support from the authorities, is crucial. It is fundamental to protect the health of the population whilst avoiding disruptions to the free movement of key professionals and strategic industries, in particular the delivery of goods and essential services across Europe. 

We applaud the efforts to date to ensure seamless supply. We call on EU and national authorities to continue to find flexible solutions in transport/logistics of products and ingredients, but also in the production of disinfectants as well as in expediting the pre-marketing biocidal product authorisation procedures. We stand ready to play our part in addressing this unprecedented public health crisis.

Our industry association in Brussels as well as our entire network of national associations across Europe is in daily contacts with EU and national authorities to secure adequate supply, distribution and production of our value chain.

Read more in our recent communications
Relevant Commission/ECHA information

3. Cross-industry alliance on COVID-19

At the initiative of A.I.S.E., EBPF (now called Biocides for Europe, a sector group of CEFIC) and FECC (the European Association of Chemical Distributors), a cross-industry alliance on COVID-19 was created in March 2020. The main objective of the alliance is to provide industry with faster access to the relevant information, helping them to ensure that the authorities, medical facilities and the public all have enough supply of valuable disinfectants in this time of need.

Under the umbrella of this alliance, a practical guide has been developed which aims to assist companies in complying with their obligations under the Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR) and equivalent national laws on biocides during the COVID-19 pandemic. The content of this Guide sets out the main procedures for fast-tracking the availability of disinfectants in order to help fight the pandemic. Two appendices provide an overview of national measures, and a list of all the active substances approved or under review for PT1 and PT2 at EU level.  

Read more about and download the Practical Guide 

4. Good hygiene practices – Our consumer guidance 

With the dramatic outbreak of COVID-19, the European detergents and maintenance products industry reminds the public of the importance of good hygiene practice. We recommend that you stay aware of the latest information on the outbreak through your national health authorities. If that is not available, refer to the WHO website. These institutions provide their expert advice based on the latest insights.

Via our consumer portal (recently relaunched and currently in translation), we have developed a special Q&A on the topic of COVID-19. Consumers are also guided to their national health services for specific advice relevant to their country.  General guidance when someone is ill at home has also been developed, that includes advice on doing the laundry and cleaning surfaces.

For more information 

5. Biocides and healthcare - Our recent activities

The key role of biocides for health and hygiene 

The COVID-19 outbreak highlights the need to be able to rapidly prevent the spread of the virus, so as to decrease the risk of contamination.  To do so, disinfectants i.e. biocidal products, play a key role. 

A.I.S.E. member companies make biocidal products mainly for disinfection and household insect control. Biocides are also used in small amounts as in-can preservatives in a variety of products to maintain product quality. Biocidal products are used only when and where they are needed at home and in public places (e.g. for hand hygiene, for surface disinfection in swimming pools), in hospitals, food safety facilities (e.g. the food, beverage, hospitality and catering industries) and for animal welfare. They are subject to a rigorous legislative process via the Biocidal Products Regulation which governs both the placing on the market of the active substances, as well as the finished product.

Read more here about A.I.S.E.’s work on biocides

A.I.S.E. conference on patient safety for biocides competent authorities

In September 2019, A.I.S.E. organised an event specifically aimed at providing an opportunity for exchange and information sharing on the requirements to secure patient safety in the healthcare environment. The conference and hospital visit aimed to engage with authorities on the specificities of the healthcare and professional cleaning and hygiene sectors, focussing on health hygiene standards, disinfection challenges and industry innovations.  This one day event, hosted by CHIREC /Delta hospital in Brussels, brought together some 80 experts including competent EU and national biocides and medical devices authorities from 19 Member States, academia, industry and healthcare experts.

The complex and challenging task of ensuring patient safety was addressed from many angles and the event was very much valued by the participants.

Clean Hospitals platform

The Clean Hospitals platform was set up in 2019 to bring together stakeholders from industry, academia and the healthcare sector to share expert knowledge and raise industry standards on hospital environmental hygiene. Through education, research and knowledge sharing, this network of experts champions all aspects of hospital and healthcare hygiene, connecting stakeholders, making hospitals safer, benefiting public health, reducing antimicrobial resistance, and protecting lives. The platform is chaired by Dr. Didier Pittet of the World Health Organisation, and leader of the global hand washing campaign. In early 2020, A.I.S.E. became a collaborating partner with the Clean Hospitals platform.

Read more about Clean Hospitals

6. In close dialogue with our value chain partners and partners

To help contain the COVID-19 crisis, we are keen to play our role as outlined above. We are also in close contact and dialogue with partners of our value chain such as providers of active substances via CEFIC and EBPF (now called Biocides for Europe). We strongly support the work being done by the professional cleaning personnel under the coordination of EFCI (the European Facilities & Cleaning Services Industry), without whom our products could not be applied. 

On this topic, as many others, we also ensure close dialogue with our sister associations in other parts of the world also impacted by this pandemic. Our gratitude goes to all those who are – together with the healthcare personnel – directly or indirectly helping contain this unprecedented crisis worldwide.