The skyrocketing demand for hand sanitisers has dropped as more and more people during the stay-home period opt for soap, which is more effective against viruses and bacteria.
Even before the surge in coronavirus cases in the country, demand for hand sanitisers soared by almost 500 percent in the capital seven weeks ago.
At that time in the second week of March, major players in the hand sanitiser market were struggling to maintain uninterrupted supply, and subsequently started rationing the orders.
But the situation has changed completely as there is currently plenty of stock of sanitising products at the stores, with few buyers.
While the whole country is in a lockdown-like situation which is being called 'general holidays', and virus infections are edging up every day, surprisingly the demand for hand sanitisers has decreased in the capital.
Storekeepers and industry insiders say that fewer people are now buying hand sanitisers because customers say they prefer soap.
Basically, there are two reasons for that — one, soap is cheap and second, they are more effective at killing viruses and bacteria than alcohol-based sanitising products.
Kausar Sumon, who works for a private company but who is now doing office work from home, said, "I spend most of my time at home since my office is closed. I mostly used hand sanitisers when I went out, but at home I use soap. So I do not have to use hand sanitisers that much."
Another private company employee named Abedin Jeem said, "My office gave me a small bottle of hand sanitiser. I could not even finish half of it until now. Soap is more effective against coronavirus and other germs as per the World Health Organization."
"I use the sanitiser when I go out to the market, maybe twice a week," he added.
On a visit to pharmacies and department stores in Dhaka, this correspondent found that there were plenty of hand sanitising products on sale, but few customers were coming to buy them.
A pharmacy salesman named Mohammad Anis said people used to scramble for hand sanitisers a few weeks ago, and all the products used to be sold as soon as they arrived.
"But now I cannot even sell 2-3 sanitisers a day," he added.
When the demand for hand sanitisers was high, some new brands showed up with low quality products.
According to the WHO, hand sanitisers must contain 60 percent alcohol to kill the virus, but those brands were reportedly not maintaining the required percentage of alcohol. The substandard sanitisers did not even have ingredient names written on them.
On condition of anonymity, a top official of a prominent brand said, "Two months ago we had to ration our orders as demand increased so much. But currently the demand for sanitisers is not the same as before."
Square, ACI, Dettol, Savlon are the brands that dominate the market currently with liquid, gel or foam format sanitiser products.
As per industry insiders, the products are sold in not more than 4,000-4,500 stores across the country, while the country's hand sanitiser market is worth around Tk7 crore.