A new and more convenient way to wash clothes…well that would grab the attention of any busy parent. Laundry “pods” as they are called are small, square products that can simply be dropped into the washing machine…no measuring of detergent required. However, buyer and parents beware, especially if you have young children in the home.
A study that will be published in the December issue of Pediatrics found that there have been over 17,000 children under 6 years of age that have had harmful exposures to laundry detergent pods between 2012-2013. That equates to one child per hour between 2012-2013! Almost ¾ of these exposures occurred in children younger than 3 years of age, and the most common method of exposure was through ingestion. Many of the children exposed were cared for at home, but 35% of children required hospital evaluation and treatment, and unfortunately, there was one death.
It is not hard to see why these nifty, convenient little pods would be so enticing to young children. With bright colors like green, orange, and blue, they can easily look like candy or toys to little eyes. Also, many of these pods come packaged in containers with a simple flip top lid that even a toddler could easily open. If these pods are put into the mouth, the coating of the pod can easily be punctured by teeth or even dissolve with saliva in the mouth. When that occurs the detergent can be ingested, inhaled or get onto the skin or into the eyes and cause major problems.
Safety advocate groups here in the US such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a warning about the dangers of these pods back in March 2103. Suggestions for making these pods safer include changing their packaging to be less attractive to children, placing large warning labels on the containers, as well as “locking” the containers to make them more child proof. Companies such as Procter and Gamble who are the manufacturers of Tide have changed the design of their pods and have made a “double lock” lid. However, currently, these safety changes are only recommendations and not mandated.
While I love new gadgets that can make my life simpler as much as the next person (after all my entire Sundays are usually spent washing at least 3 loads of laundry), this is one time that for me convenience is just not worth the risk. Now is a great time for a plug about childproofing your house with regards to household cleaning products. Yes, you probably have the child locks on the cabinets where you have your bleach and cleaning supplies, and most people probably don’t leave their laundry detergent just sitting on the ground in the middle of the playroom. But as we all know, children can be mischievous, especially when they are in an “exploring” mood. So make sure and child-lock all of your household chemicals, medications, vitamins, and as this study suggests, detergents so your little “explorers” stay safe and healthy.
To read the entire study, click here.