They’re colorful and look like gummy candy, but each single-load detergent packet can harm children if they swallow the liquid inside.


Ever since single-load laundry pods hit store shelves, poison centers across the United States have been getting more calls about them. Children who do not know any better put them in their mouths, thinking they are candy, teething rings or toys. Others have gotten the chemicals inside the packs on their hands and touched their eyes, causing eye damage.

In 2012, about 500 children were injured after getting into liquid laundry packets. Some children had to go to the hospital because they ate the product and then fainted, vomited uncontrollably, became very sleepy or could not breathe. Others suffered from eye burns and could not see for a while, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Accidental poisoning is the top cause of death in children. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents to keep the detergent packets and all cleaning supplies locked up where young children can’t see or reach them. Most children who get into cleaning supplies are age 5 and younger.

Here are some other tips to keep children safe from poisonous substances, including laundry pods:

  • Do not let children handle the detergent packets. Adults should make sure their hands are dry before handling them.

  • Keep packets sealed in their original packaging. Never store them in food containers, cups or bottles.

  • Lock away any product that is dangerous to young children, including those in the garage and medicine cabinet.

  • Even if a package seems childproof, it should be kept out of sight and reach.

If you think your child may have swallowed or had contact with detergent packets or any other poisonous substance, call the Poison Help Line anytime at 1-800-222-1222.

© 2013 American Academy of Pediatrics. This Parent Plus may be freely copied and distributed with proper attribution.