Consumer Reports strongly urges houses with children under 6 to avoid them altogether.
Kids are curious. Kids like bright things that are squishy and shiny and smell good and have swirls and candy colors … like laundry detergent pods. To the design genius who came up with the idea for packing toxic chemicals into a package so obviously irresistible for kids: What were you thinking?
While regular laundry detergent is bad enough, when kids get into laundry pods it’s much more serious.
“Along with vomiting, lethargy, and delirium, some victims have stopped breathing. Eye injuries are another common hazard,” writes Consumer Reports on a new warning about the product. “And since 2013, at least two children have died after ingesting a pod.”
In the first six months of 2015, poison-control centers nationwide received 6,046 reports of kids 5 and younger ingesting or inhaling pods, or getting pod contents on their skin or in their eyes, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC). At that pace, the number will likely pass the 2014 total of 11,714.
While those who go for more holistic cleaning methods are likely familiar with the idea that a product like this might pose health risks, a lot people are unaware of the dangers and even the medical community is grappling with it.
“No one is really sure why liquid pods are so much more toxic than other types of detergent,” says Marie Steiner, M.D., a professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota. “As the number of exposures increase, the breadth of symptoms seems to be increasing.”
In 2012, Consumer Reports urged makers of these products to create safer pods; there was positive response with some companies moving from transparent to opaque containers or adding child-resistant latches to the packaging, but still too many kids are finding their way into them with dire consequences. With that in mind, the magazine decided not to include them on their list of recommended laundry detergents and go on to, “strongly urge households where children younger than 6 are ever present to skip them altogether.”
The warning does not apply to laundry (or dishwasher) pods that contain powder, because injuries associated with those are not as frequent nor as severe.
“We recognize the role parents and caregivers play in keeping children safe, but we believe the unique risks posed by liquid laundry pods warrant this action, at least until the adoption of tougher safety measures leads to a meaningful drop in injuries.”
In the meantime: 11 ways to green your laundry