Article at a Glance

  • Detergent pods are responsible for thousands of child eye injuries and poisonings.
  • The highly concentrated detergent inside the pods is much more dangerous than regular detergents.
  • Detergent pods should be treated like other poisons and kept out of the reach of children.

New single-load laundry and dish detergent pods are convenient, but people need to be aware of how dangerous they can be for young children.

Since the pods became popular in 2012, there have been thousands of young children injured by either swallowing the pods or having them burst, squeezing the detergent into their eyes, nose or mouth. Injuries can result in corneal damage, conjunctivitis, vomiting, lethargy, esophageal injury, and difficultly breathing. In severe cases, children have stopped breathing and needed ventilation support.

The highly concentrated detergent inside the pods is more dangerous than regular detergents and causes much more serious symptoms. The brightly colored pods are also very attractive to children—looking a lot like candy or something to play with.

As detergent pod sales increase, poison control centers are seeing more and more calls about detergent pod injuries. Nationally 6,343 injuries were reported in 2012, 10,395 in 2013, and so far 8,915 from January to September 2014.

If you use detergent pods, be sure to keep them in a high cabinet with a childproof lock where children can’t get to them. Some manufacturers are making their containers harder to open and including warning labels, but many generic brands have not. In many cases, children find the pods when they are either in the washing machine or left out loose.

If your child swallows a pod or is injured by it bursting, call the poison-control helpline immediately at 800-222-1222.

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Detergent pods responsible for thousands of child injuries

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