Laundry detergent pods are plastic-packaged, single-use items you can throw in with your laundry without having to measure liquid or powder detergents. While they provide a convenient way to get your clothes clean, their colorful packaging can sometimes tempt kids to try to eat them.
A study published in the American Academy of Pediatrics’ journal, Pediatrics, found that an estimated 17,230 children were exposed to laundry detergent pods between 2012 and 2013. Some of the key findings included:
- 73.5 percent of these cases were in children under age 3
- 79.7 percent of hospital visits due to laundry pods were related to ingesting the pods
- 102 patients (0.6 percent of those exposed to the laundry pods) required tracheal intubation (artificial breathing)
- 50 percent of all reported cases were managed at home and 35 percent required treatment and subsequent release from a healthcare facility
- 1 death was related to laundry detergent pod exposure
The idea that laundry detergent pods could pose a risk to children’s safety is not necessarily a new one. The pods were introduced in 2010, and in 2012, detergent maker Procter & Gamble changed its laundry detergent pod product packaging to make the packages harder to open. Tide, another laundry detergent pod manufacturer, also added a double-lock on the lid and adjusted the pod design to make it harder for kids to access the detergent inside the pods.
Symptoms associated with laundry detergent pod exposure include nausea, vomiting, coughing, drowsiness, respiratory distress, and rash. In addition to problems related to ingesting the pods, the detergent inside can also irritate a child’s eyes.
The AAP makes several recommendations regarding how parents can protect their children from accidental poisoning. This includes safely storing these items out of reach of children. Always keeping the pods in their packaging is an important step since adults have mistaken the pods for teething toys in the past. Because the laundry pods are especially tempting to children under age 3, the Academy recommends using traditional laundry detergent to eliminate the temptation for children.
If you suspect your child has been exposed to a laundry detergent pod, seek immediate medical attention and call the American Association of Poison Control Centers at 1-800-222-1222.
Reviewed by Dr. Heather Felton, April 2020
- Laundry detergent pods can pose a poisoning risk for children because children often ingest the pods, mistaking them for candy.
- For households with children under the age of 3, the Academy recommends parents use traditional laundry detergent instead.