The Dangers of Laundry Detergent Pods

Author: James Mick "Jamie" Kessel, Short Pump, VA Personal Injury Attorney

Laundry detergent pods may be a convenient method for washing your clothes, but they can also pose a significant risk to your children’s safety. With a steady increase in sales over the last few years, these small pods now comprise the majority of detergent sales across the country. New research, driven by this market trend, is revealing unforeseen dangers. The compact nature of these pods makes it easy for kids to find them, play with them, and injure themselves before their parents realize what is happening.

According to a study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than 17,000 children were injured by one of these detergent packets in the past two years. [1] Roughly four out of every five of these injuries involved a child ingesting the pod. Presumably, the bright colors and small size of the pods cause many kids to mistake them for candy. Of those that swallowed a pod, more than 35% needed professional medical care, roughly 5% were hospitalized, and one child died.[2] Many children are also injured when they break one of the packages open and the detergent gets into their eyes. This can lead to severe irritation and even temporary blindness.

These tragedies don’t have to happen. Better labeling and safer packaging can significantly reduce a child’s exposure to these products. First, warning labels can alert parents to the dangers of the pods and cause them to be more vigilant. Second, changing the packaging of individual pods to incorporate less bright colors reduces their resemblance to candy. Third, the larger box that the pods come in should be childproofed. Simple measures such as these have proven very successful in reducing the number of accidents involving bleach and other household cleaners in the past. Some companies have already begun to make changes to their packaging and labeling, but so far there is no government mandate and thousands of potentially dangerous pods continue to make their way into our stores and homes.[3]

The American Academy of Pediatrics’ study concludes that the best method for preventing these accidents is education for parents. The main issue appears to be lack of awareness. Almost all parents childproof the cabinet under the kitchen sink or wherever else the bulk of their household cleaning materials are stored, but then fail to secure the laundry area where detergent is often stored. An infant or toddler cannot move or open a traditional, full-size bottle of detergent, so often the cabinet is left open and accessible. Switching to pods gives young children the ability to handle and expose themselves to these dangerous and attractive looking chemicals.[4]

Poisonings and other injuries related to household cleaners have been declining for years and detergent pods can become a part of that encouraging trend. Through improved labeling, secure packaging, and parent education we can keep children safe from these household safety hazards.

About The Author: Jamie Kessel is a personal injury attorney practicing with the law firm of Allen & Allen. He was recently named one of the 2014 Legal Elite by Virginia Business Magazine. His practice is focused in the areas of car accidents, product liability, premises liability, and distracted driving accidents.
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