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Clorox prepares for a return to normal by selling wipes to businesses

This illustration photo shows a container of Clorox disinfecting wipes in a kitchen in Culver City, California, on April 24, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. - Top White House coronavirus advisor Deborah Birx shrank in horror and around the nation comedians sharpened their pens: President Donald Trump had just asked if virus victims couldn't be injected with disinfectant. Even as a new poll shows most Americans wish the former real estate magnate would leave science to the experts, Trump on April 23 evening hit a new high in the annals of amateur presidential doctoring. (Photo by Chris DELMAS / AFP) (Photo by CHRIS DELMAS/AFP via Getty Images)

    (CNN) — Clorox got a huge boost from worried consumers continually wiping down surfaces at home during the height of the pandemic. But now that more people are venturing out of their houses thanks to Covid-19 vaccines, Clorox is evolving its marketing strategy to focus more on businesses.

The household products company announced a new initiative Wednesday, called Safer Today, geared toward boosting standards for infection control and disinfectant protocol in public spaces.

Clorox is partnering with both the Cleveland Clinic and CDC Foundation in an effort to get the message across that it’s just as important for businesses to stress cleanliness and safety in a world now obsessed with keeping safe from contagious diseases.

The 100-year-old company will partner with airline United, ridesharing leader Uber, rental car company Enterprise and movie theater chain AMC as part of a new program to use only Clorox wipes and other of the company’s cleaning products, 13 of which are branded on its website with the tagline “kills Covid-19 Virus.”

“We’re focusing on best practices as people go back out in the world,” said Tony Matt, the company’s chief growth officer, in an interview with CNN Business.

Clorox has ramped up production of its wipes to avoid running out of products — a problem it faced last year due to unprecedented demand.

Matt said Clorox has added significant capacity and now can ship 1.5 million packages of wipes per day, up from 1 million a year ago. The company is planning to increase production further to meet a goal of 2 million daily packages over the next few months.

Investors worry that demand may have peaked, however. Shares of Clorox are down 7% this year and are nearly 25% below the all-time high they reached last year during the worst of the pandemic.

“It’s been a year now, so the idea that folks may be feeling some fatigue is natural. We all feel that,” Matt said.

He conceded that people may be less worried about Covd-19 now than they were a few months ago, but that businesses know they cannot let their guard down — even as more Americans get vaccinated and some states eliminate mask mandates.

That’s why Clorox is stepping up its efforts to form new business partnerships in order to rely less on average consumers buying its wipes and bleach in grocery stores.

Clorox also recently announced a multi-year deal with the NBA and WNBA, whereby basketball courts and other player facilities can be sanitized with its products. And gaming giant MGM Resorts just signed a deal to make Clorox its official disinfectant and hand sanitizer for its casino and hotel guests.

“It’s more about prevention behavior than panic behavior in a coming post-Covid world,” Matt said. ‘The reality is that if businesses want to make their locations safer, they have to think even more about creating a secure environment.”

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