Laundry detergent single-use packs: Are they dangerous?

The American Association of Poison Control Centers just released information about some very scary poisonings in young children from swallowing one of the newest developments in household products: the laundry pod, a small, brightly colored pack of liquid. Three cases involved children who had severe vomiting and problems breathing after swallowing the products.

So, how bad are they? Usually not too bad. We have had several cases at the NNEPC, none of which were nearly that serious. Most children bite into the packs and get some of the product in their mouth. Some break the packs and get the product in their eyes or on their skin. Most of our kiddos did not seem to have problems. A couple threw up, even though they only swallowed a small amount.  One had significant irritation in their eye. None of them had problems breathing. It’s too soon to say, but it seems these products are usually not too bad for most kids. In unusual cases, the result can be more severe.

What should you do? 

1. Keep laundry pods and packs out of the sight and reach of children. These products contain very strong detergent. The packaging is attractive and kids may find it interesting to go after. Knowing that very young kids tend to put everything in their mouth, squeeze it, push on it and sometimes step on it, it’s better not to have it nearby where it might be tempting.

2. Call the poison center at 1-800-222-1222 right away if your child gets one of these products in their mouth, on their skin or in their eyes. Drinking a small amount of water, removing clothes, washing the skin or flushing the eye may prevent a lot of problems. The poison center can walk you through the right steps.

3. If your child does have trouble breathing or isn’t responding to you, call 911. However, this type of reaction is not common.

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