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Should You Use Laundry Detergent Pods When You Have Children?

One question parents are not asking as often as they might is, “Should you use laundry detergent pods when you have children in the home?” Laundry detergent pods are the small plastic packets that are tossed into the washing machine to dissolve in the water. Similar detergent pods are also available for

Laundry Detergent Pods - Altizer Law

Photo: Child in the Wash, courtesy of Sharron, via Flickr

use in dishwashers. Some contain soap. Some also contain bleach, spot removing chemicals, fabric softeners, and more. Detergent pods are very dangerous for children, especially those aged 5 and under.

These packets certainly seem attractive to young children.

  • They are small in size.
  • They are brightly colored.
  • The plastic is shiny.
  • They are the perfect size for young children to throw, stack, and put into their mouths.

These products have been around for several years now. Although they are convenient and they do a good job of cleaning, they can be very dangerous. In fact, the editors of Consumer Reports no longer recommend the use of these laundry detergent pods due to the health risks to children. Several of the companies that produce these detergent pods have responded by changing the packaging to make them less visible to children and less accessible to them. One article in Consumer Reports observed that the pods resemble fruit snacks and candy.

The Numbers

The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) received more than 4,900 incident reports during just the first five months of 2016. These pods contain highly concentrated single-load detergent amounts, as well as other additives, making them extremely dangerous to young children. Since their introduction, detergent pods have caused increasing numbers of injuries to young children:

  • 2012 6,343
  • 2013 10,395
  • 2014 11,714
  • 2015 12,594
  • 2016 (thru 5/31/2016) 4,900

According to the association, child exposure to the pods includes ingestion, inhalation, or contact with the eyes and skin. They report, “Some children who have gotten the product in their mouths have had excessive vomiting, wheezing and gasping. Some get very sleepy. Some have had breathing problems laundry detergent pods - Altizer Lawserious enough to need a ventilator to help them breathe. There have also been reports of corneal abrasions (scratches to the eyes) when the detergent gets into a child’s eyes. “

The AAPCC recommends that all detergent pods be stored in closed containers and stored up high, out of the reach of children. If there are young children in the home (aged 5 and under), they recommend that laundry detergent pods (and dishwasher pods) not be used at all.

You may wish to download the AAPCC’s factsheet here:

Most Dangerous Products Involved in Child Poisonings

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the most dangerous products most frequently involved in accidental child poisonings are:

  1. Acetaminophen
  2. Blood pressure medications
  3. Anti-depressant medications
  4. Narcotic medications
  5. Bleach
  6. Ibuprofen
  7. Laundry pods
  8. Sedatives and anti-anxiety drugs.

If you suspect that your child has come into contact with detergent pods, call 1-800-222-1222 immediately.

If your child is harmed by contact with the chemicals in laundry detergent pods or dishwasher pods, seek medical help. Then, call Altizer Law, P.C., to discuss your rights. We are experienced products liability attorneys. We will help you determine if you are eligible to file suit and seek financial compensation for your child’s injuries.