Even at nearly 91 years old, inventor Solomon Rosenblatt is still figuring out new ways to wipe away bacteria, fungi, and viruses. His latest product is especially relevant during COVID-19.

IoWipe is a reusable, iodine-based sponge that can be used to kill a variety of microorganisms on hands and surfaces. Rosenblatt is selling them online with help from his daughter and son-in-law, Elise and Max Rivers. Rosenblatt and his wife, Vicky, live with Elise and Max in Chestnut Hill.

While the IoWipe is relatively new to consumers, Rosenblatt, whose birthday is July 17, came up with IoWipe’s iodine-powered technology almost three decades ago. Now called IoPlex, that creation is an antimicrobial dressing for infected wounds.

“I have been involved in antimicrobial products for some time,” said Rosenblatt, who has 10 patents. (Antimicrobial is the general term for any product or ingredient that kills or inhibits bacteria, viruses, or molds.)

“My introduction to the need for better antimicrobials came from my experience as a life-support chemist for the Apollo program,” he said. “I was very concerned about lateral transfer of bacteria in the [space] capsule and as a young engineer.”

IoPlex led to the IoWipe, a consumer application of Rosenblatt’s FDA-approved wound-care product. Both use the same base material and main ingredient.

Solomon Rosenblatt stands for a portrait in Philadelphia's Chestnut Hill section on Friday, June 26, 2020. Rosenblatt, a biomedical chemist, invented the IoWipe, an iodine-based, reusable sanitizing wipe.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Solomon Rosenblatt stands for a portrait in Philadelphia's Chestnut Hill section on Friday, June 26, 2020. Rosenblatt, a biomedical chemist, invented the IoWipe, an iodine-based, reusable sanitizing wipe.

Inventing a product is challenging enough, Rosenblatt said. Making consumers aware of it can be even more difficult.

“Most of the problems in inventing are getting distribution, getting finances, and getting people to help you do this,” he said. “And that is very frustrating and very time-consuming and painful because I believe so much in the product.”

Unlike regular wipes that are disposed of after one use, IoWipes are reusable and guaranteed to last at least 30 days. The cost: $25.

Each wipe is fully saturated with about 6% of its weight as iodine, so it takes a long time to use up; only small doses are needed for effective cleaning. The wipe is self-sanitizing for continued use until its jet-black color fades.

This product has become a family affair. Elise and Max own a wellness center, Community Acupuncture of Mount Airy. Due to the pandemic, their center was closed for three months but has since reopened.

While it was closed, Max put up a website (iowipe.com) and paid for Facebook ads. Word of mouth helped spread the news about IoWipes.

“The pandemic came and shut our business down, and now we’re all working together as a family,” Max said. “It has just sort of taken off.”

Max and Elise, who are packaging the products at their home, say they are barely keeping up with demand.

“Our expectation is that at some point we will have to outsource,” Max said.

Added Elise: “All we need is one really huge order that’s beyond us. So we’re in the works on that, and scaling up won’t be difficult.”

Besides the wipes, they are also making related products such as sanitizing doorknob covers, which last even longer than IoWipes, Elise said. Their biggest order so far was 200 doorknob covers for a real estate office.

As a sign of progress, their company, IoDoRios LLC, has started hiring local people to help with production.

What has been most gratifying to Rosenblatt is working with family to market the products.

“My daughter has grown up with me and [my inventions],” he said. “She remembers me working in my lab in the basement of her childhood home. So, really, from the ground up, she was intimately connected with my laboratory work in my basement.”

Solomon Rosenblatt (clockwise from bottom right), 91; his wife, Vicky; their daughter, Elise Rivers; and her husband, Max, pose for a portrait outside their home in Philadelphia's Chestnut Hill section on Friday, June 26, 2020. Solomon Rosenblatt, a biomedical chemist, invented the IoWipe, an iodine-based, reusable sanitizing wipe, which the Rivers are helping to market and sell.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Solomon Rosenblatt (clockwise from bottom right), 91; his wife, Vicky; their daughter, Elise Rivers; and her husband, Max, pose for a portrait outside their home in Philadelphia's Chestnut Hill section on Friday, June 26, 2020. Solomon Rosenblatt, a biomedical chemist, invented the IoWipe, an iodine-based, reusable sanitizing wipe, which the Rivers are helping to market and sell.

Most of all, he is gratified that what he created is especially relevant during the current pandemic.

“It makes you feel that the work that you’ve done is at last being rewarded,” he said. “You know, as an inventor, 95% of all experiments fail. So when there is something that finally comes forth and does some good, it really compensates for a lot of failures.”