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Poison Alert: Laundry Detergent Pods

Poison control centers have received over 50,000 calls related to liquid laundry detergent pods in the last five years. Although this number not only includes actual poisonings but any exposure to the substance – including inhaling the substance and having it be absorbed into the skin or eyes – the statistic is a bit alarming.

Especially with a recent trend of teenagers recording themselves biting into the pods and uploading the videos onto video sharing websites and social media platforms or apps as part of a “challenge.” The videos show adolescents gagging, coughing and sometimes even foaming at the mouth after biting into the packets.

Whether intentional or accidental, health implications from ingesting laundry detergent pods can be deadly serious. Particularly because these pods are so highly concentrated with cleaning chemicals compared to more traditional liquid detergent. Potential effects from misuse of the pods include seizures, pulmonary edema, respiratory arrest, coma, and even death – younger children (five and under) are especially vulnerable.

Keeping Young Ones Safe

As a parent or a caregiver, you should do the following to help protect children:

  • Childproof cabinets and drawers that store household cleaning and laundry items
  • Always keep detergent containers closed and sealed
  • Keep products in their original containers with the labels intact
  • Be sure to store any detergent up high, out of the reach of children
  • Follow the instructions on the product label for proper handling and use

What to Do in Case of Poisoning From a Laundry Detergent Packet

If a child or anyone else bites into a laundry detergent packet, do the following as soon as possible:

  • Remove the pod or packet immediately
  • Wash the child’s or person’s face and hands thoroughly
  • Gently wipe out a younger child’s mouth
  • An adolescent or adult should rinse his or her mouth with water and spit out without swallowing
  • If pod or packet contents squirt into a child’s eye, rinse with gently running water for 15 minutes
  • Call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222 for guidance

Laundry detergent pods should never be misused – especially as a joke – but knowing what to do in case of poisoning from ingestion or exposure can help avoid serious injuries or even death.