With laundry packets gaining in popularity and currently used by 20 percent of U.S. households, parents need to be aware of this emerging risk for children. Between 2012 and 2013, more than 700 children 5 and under suffered serious health effects as a result of poisoning from liquid laundry packets, with the impact greatest among 1 and 2-year-olds. The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) recorded nearly 5000 exposure calls in 2015 through May 31.

“Children love to explore and, as they grow, often discover the world by touching and putting things into their mouths,” said Safe Kids California director, Katie Smith. “It is important that parents and caregivers recognize the safety risks that may be present in their own homes, especially the poisoning risk posed by liquid laundry packets.”

These packets are a highly concentrated, single-dose product designed to dissolve in water; when they come in contact with wet hands or mouths, the packets start to dissolve and release the concentrated liquid inside. The packets or pods are attractive to children and can easily be confused with candy or teething toys.

If children get into laundry packets, the harm to their health can be significant. According to the AAPCC, children can suffer burns to their eyes and skin, seizures, respiratory arrest and coma. At least one child has died as a result of exposure to this product.

Luckily, the solutions to protect children in the home against laundry packet poisoning are simple.

The most obvious remedy is to avoid the packets and use conventional laundry products until your young children are no longer at an age where everything within reach goes in their mouths.

  • Keep liquid laundry packets and all laundry products up high and out of children’s reach, or stored in cabinets protected with child locks.
  • Keep packets in their original container and keep the containers tightly closed.
  • Purchase opaque containers so children will not be attracted to the contents inside.
  • Always follow the instructions on the product labels.
  • If a child gets into laundry packets or other products, call the Poison Help number immediately, 1-800-222-1222.

American Association of Poison Control Centers Laundry Packet Policy Statement

Contact: Katie Smith, safekidsca@thecapcenter.org, 916-244-1964