For six months, May Vanegas hunted her prey.

She scoured grocery stores. She arrived at Target and Walmart early in the morning, hoping to catch a delivery. She followed social media accounts, searching for clues on where her quarry was last sighted in her area.

And then, finally, one day in mid-September when the 41-year-old mother of two teenagers stopped at her local Target in San Antonio, she stumbled across what she had long been stalking: Clorox disinfecting wipes.

“My daughter and I started screaming in the store, ‘Oh, my god! Oh, my god!’” Ms. Vanegas said. “I had given up looking for them in the last month. I had lost all hope.”

Informed that the store was allowing shoppers to buy only a single canister, Ms. Vanegas and her daughter each grabbed one. The two canisters of Clorox wipes are now displayed on the kitchen counter at Ms. Vanegas’s home, trophies from this strange time when American life has been completely upended by the coronavirus.

Most shoppers these days are able to routinely buy common household items like toilet paper, paper towels, pasta and beans that had been in short supply in the early weeks of the pandemic, when consumers were loading up their pantries. But Clorox wipes remain stubbornly elusive.

“We know our products are not everywhere everyone wants them to be,” said Andy Mowery, who, as Clorox’s chief supply officer, is in charge of figuring out how to make more wipes. “It’s a point of personal frustration for me.”

With cleanliness on the minds of many guarding against the virus, the wipes have become the pandemic version of the must-have toy of the holiday season. Across social media, shoppers share where and when to find wipes made by Clorox, or Lysol — which is owned by Reckitt