Soap manufacturer helping America wash their hands


CHICAGO (WGN) — Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, public health officials have consistently said a simple step can save lives — washing your hands.

However, as the routine hygiene practice becomes more and more critical to public health, so do the supplies of soap.   

Some of the most important products used across the country are made in the Chicago area.

Madeleine McNally is the executive vice president of Xttrium Laboratories. The company produces soap and hand wash for CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid and most of the nation’s hospitals.

“We realize we make a critical product right now, and we want to do whatever we can to provide a product that’s going to keep health care workers safe, patients safe and consumers safe,” McNally said.

The 85-year-old family-owned company manufactures 150 different FDA approved infection prevention and health care products;

“We’re pumping this stuff out, and we’re going to do whatever we can to keep people safe,” McNally said.

None is more critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19 than soap.  

“All of the major pharmacy chains. We’re in the first aid section, because we’re considered an antiseptic product,” said McNally.

That’s even stronger than the typical antibacterial soap many people are familiar with, which is why Xxtrium’s Dyna-Hex wash is used in many of the nation’s hospitals.  

“We also are FDA approved for healthcare personal hand wash, which is a big deal right now, and surgical scrub, so our hand washes and scrubs go directly to the hospital into the acute care area, so ICUs, NICUs, emergency areas, so what we’re doing is feeding those areas,” McNally said.

Eighty-five full-time employees and another 25 temps are currently working to meet increased demand.

“We are in surge mode,” McNally said. “And we feel well-prepared for that. We have about 11 months of stock of our main raw material. We’re all systems go.”

So far, there have been no delays in shipping, and the supply chain remains strong.

McNally says there’s no reason to panic shop for soaps or hand sanitizer.

“People need to realize: just take one,” McNally said, “Just take what you need, and we will refill it and we will get you what you need. There’s no reason to panic.”

In the meantime, employees are practicing social distancing in the lab by reducing the number of people on the production line by about half, while producing more than ever.

“I think this is when American manufacturers are going to shine,” McNally said. “We hear a lot about how manufacturing has left the U.S. There are tons of manufacturers here, we’re all dedicated to this and we will keep the system going.”

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