Are Laundry Pods a Public Safety Hazard?

4444842_mLaundry pods are small packets of liquid laundry detergent. Instead of measuring out your laundry soap, you just toss a packet in with each load. The wrapper dissolves in the wash so you don’t even have to open them. It sounds like a great idea, but when the pods became popular with the release of Tide Pods in February, 2012, poison control centers started getting frantic phone calls from parents of toddlers and infants who had been exposed to the detergent.

Why Pods are Dangerous

Pod detergents account for only six percent of detergents on the market, but are responsible for about the same number of exposures reported to poison control centers as all conventional detergents combined. By March, 2013, about a year after Tide Pods hit the market, there had been nearly 7,700 reports of children age five and under being exposed to pod detergent. In August, 2013, a Florida baby died after he ate a pod.

The pods are candy-colored, and attractive to small children. When they squeeze or bite them, the detergent quirts out forcefully. Laundry soap tastes awful, so if a child starts to lick or taste it, they will normally stop right away. But the pods shoot the detergent out into their mouths, and it is highly concentrated, so they can easily wind up ingesting enough to cause serious injury or death.

Eye injuries are also common. When kids squeeze the packets they can burst and shoot the detergent in their eyes.