Laundry Pod Safety

Most are probably familiar with the laundry detergent pods that can be found in laundry supplies. They are small, soft, and colorful packets of highly concentrated washing detergent sold by companies such as Tide, Arm & Hammer, and Gain. These pods pose an acute exposure concern for children, acting as a sort of household attractive nuisance and mouthing temptation, particularly for small children.
According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) Laundry Detergent Pod alert page, in 2012, 2013, and 2014, there were 6343, 10395, and 11714 reported exposures among children five and younger, respectively. As of August 31, 8318 exposures had been recorded for 2015. An exposure is defined as "contact with the substance in some way; for example ingested, inhaled, absorbed by the skin or eyes, etc." according to the AAPCC. However, AAPCC notes that "not all exposures are poisonings or overdoses." Various symptoms of exposure, including vomiting, wheezing, gasping, drooling and swallowing dysfunction, sleepiness, and corneal abrasions, have been reported on the Poison Control website, as well as the literature (AAPCC Position StatementMMWR ReportSmith et al. 2014).
Laundry detergent pods, similar to other cleaners, are valuable household products, which can be used in a safe manner. If you use laundry pods at home, particularly if you have small children, please be sure to adhere to the following recommendations from the Poison Control Centers:
• "Always keep detergent containers closed, sealed and stored up high, out of the reach of children."
• "Follow the instructions on the product label."
• "Call your local poison center at 1-800-222-1222 immediately if you suspect a child has come in contact with this detergent."