Sure, toilet paper and wipes are in demand during the coronavirus pandemic. But Barbicide, too?

Sure, toilet paper and wipes are in demand during the coronavirus pandemic. But Barbicide, too?

A pandemic is a good time to be in the disinfectant business.

That blue liquid that barbers and hairstylists drop used combs into between services — Barbicide — is selling more than ever before.

Milwaukee-based King Research Inc. makes the blue Barbicide disinfectant and other cleaning products under the BlueCo Brands label.

Salons and barbershops started ordering more Barbicide and other cleaning products "about the same time the world ran out of toilet paper," King Research President Alan Murphy said. With concern for cleanliness and sterilization heightened, King Research is experiencing unprecedented growth for its cleaning products.

The company has moved from working five days a week to a seven-day production schedule and can still barely keep up with demand. It added new lines in its mostly automated manufacturing facility.

The Milwaukee-based company that makes the disinfectant for hair salons and barbershops, Barbicide, said sales in March, April and May have been around four times higher than in the same months last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Where's my new Ford? When do new cars come out? You'll have to wait to buy 2021, as automakers delay next year's models

It streamlined production to sell only one product — half-gallon jugs of Barbicide. So far in 2020, the company has sold more half-gallon jugs of Barbicide than in all of 2019, Murphy said. The company has shipped products from its facility on Milwaukee's northwest side every day during the crisis, Murphy said.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused unprecedented growth for the disinfectant company. Barbicide was ready to grow around 12% this year, Murphy said. Sales in March, April and May have been around four times higher than in the same months last year.

"I don't think that's real, long-term growth," he said. "I think it will settle." The products are sold in all 50 states, Canada, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East. The majority of sales are within the United States.

BlueCo Brands include Barbicide, Lucky Tiger, Triple Lanolin and Ship-Shape, among others. More than 120 people work in the office, manufacturing and warehousing operations for Barbicide, Murphy said. Barbicide was founded in 1947 in New York. The company moved to Milwaukee in 2006.

It's not just selling disinfectant. The company has expanded its free online certification program for nail, hair and barbershops.

Barbicide launched a COVID-19 certification program May 4 with information about best practices to keep hairstylists and customers safe like requiring everyone to wear masks. More than 694,500 certificates have been issued as of May 26. The existing Barbicide certification has issued more than 618,700 certificates between March 1 and May 26.

The company is encouraging people to post pictures with their certificates on Instagram using #BarbicideBlue. The hashtag has been used in more than 3,500 posts.

More than 2,600 establishments registered with Barbicide's Certified Safe Service Establishment Program for a $30 fee between May 4 and May 26.

Crystal Olson has been buying Barbicide since she opened her Grafton salon and spa Allure 12 years ago.

Before her employees returned to work, Olson required all 13 stylists, nail technician and two estheticians to complete the Barbicide certificate. Allure reopened May 26.

"We do have a few stylists that were really nervous," Olson said. "Taking that certification made them feel safer."

Sarah Hauer can be reached at or on Instagram @HauerSarah and Twitter @SarahHauer. Subscribe to her weekly newsletter Be MKE at


News Related


Trump’s ‘mission accomplished’ moment is premature and deadly. We have not defeated COVID.

Desperate for crowds and adoration, Trump has put his most fervent supporters at risk of getting a deadly disease. Future historians will be astonished. Read more »

NFLPA president JC Tretter says NFL is putting season, players at risk with its coronavirus approach

NFL Players Association president JC Tretter said Tuesday the NFL is putting the 2020 season at risk with its coronavirus approach, calling on the league to better “prioritize player safety.” “Like many other... Read more »

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says he tested positive for the coronavirus

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro says he has tested positive for COVID-19 after months of downplaying the virus’ severity. Bolsonaro confirmed the test results while wearing a mask and... Read more »

Venice Film Festival forges ahead amid COVID-19 pandemic with reduced lineup

The show will go on for the Venice Film Festival in September, but with a few modifications due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers said Tuesday that they are pushing forward with plans for... Read more »

Amtrak offers buy-one, get-one promotion on its sleeper trains amid COVID-19 — with a catch

Amtrak wants you to have sweet dreams the next time you travel — so much so that it’s sweetening the deal on its sleeper “roomettes.” The rail service is offering a buy-one-get-one-free discount... Read more »

Florida teen treated with hydroxychloroquine at home before dying of COVID-19, report says

FORT MEYERS, Fla. – The family of a 17-year-old Florida girl who died last month from COVID-19 treated her symptoms at home for nearly a week before taking her to a hospital, a... Read more »

Mookie Betts worried MLB coronavirus testing woes could prevent him from ever playing for Dodgers

During nearly four months away from the game, Mookie Betts said he “stayed away from baseball to keep myself sane.” It’s not hard to understand why. The 2018 American League Most Valuable Player... Read more »

Tom Hanks doesn’t get ‘how common sense has somehow been put into question’ with coronavirus

Read more »

Can Gov. DeSantis force Florida schools to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic? Some school leaders seem doubtful.

PALM BEACH, Fla. — As concern about the state order spread online, some school leaders said: Not so fast. As Florida educators puzzle over how to start the new academic year, Gov. Ron... Read more »

Texas surpasses 200,000 coronavirus cases after 4th of July holiday weekend

AUSTIN, Texas – Texas reached 200,000 total COVID-19 cases Monday, just 17 days after crossing the 100,000 threshold, a figure that took the state nearly four months to hit. The grim milestone came... Read more »