We all love convenience. And since 2012, we’ve enjoyed overpaying for single-load laundry detergent pods. Toss one in and go. You’ll recognize them in the giant plastic containers in the household cleaning supplies of your local grocery store.

Today, Consumer Reports throwing the hammer down on laundry pods, recommending families with children under six not buy the pods at all. Why? The dangers posed to children.

We are only halfway through 2015, and already there has been 6,046 reports to poison control centers across the United States of children accidentally inhaling or ingesting, or getting the contents of the pod on their skin.

Since 2012, Consumer Reports has pushed manufacturers to increase safety standards of the popular pods. Some have responded, switching packaging from clear plastic bins to opaque bins. Child-resistant lids have been added to certain products, but the calls still pour into poison centers and emergency rooms.

With the volume of calls, the organization decided it would not include any laundry pod products on its list of recommended laundry detergents. The decision only applies to liquid-based pods, due to what it calls unique dangers posed to young children.

I know, you’re thinking what about the responsibility of parents? Shouldn’t they keep the container away from kids? That’s true, but how many stories have we all read where a parent sets something down and turns for a split second and tragedy strikes. If it can happen to them, it can happen to any of us.

Consumer Reports outlines one of those split-second moments in its decision. It tells the story of Jill and Peter Koziol and the systemic failure at all points when dealing with poison control and the ER for laundry detergent exposure.

Their eight-month-old daughter managed to reach the top of the hamper and bite into the pod Jill had just placed on top of the clothes. Jill freely admits she should not have put the pod there, but also points out the glaring inadequacies of getting her daughter treatment.

The poison control operator assumed it was a typical laundry detergent exposure and told her to take the ‘wait-and-see’ approach. Her daughter began vomiting, which sent the family rushing to the ER. The result? The same. ER docs thought it was a typical exposure to laundry detergent. She soon went into respiratory distress and was transferred to the ICU. Two days later their daughter’s breathing normalized, and she made a full recovery.

It’s a happy ending to an otherwise horrific story. The Koziol family was lucky while other children have not been as fortunate.

Changes in Laundry Pods

Even before Consumer Reports came out with today’s recommendations, companies have started to shift. In Europe, changes have included adding a bittering agent to alter the taste of the liquid to children. Increases in burst strength have also been implemented to make it harder for children to bite through the packaging.

Procter & Gamble, maker of the Tide Pods, introduced a container with three latches to prevent children from accessing the contents as easily. I’m pretty sure it’s adult-proof too. Talk about a pain in the ass.

P&G said through its director of brand communications it saw a drop in accidents.

“We are seeing signs that the rate of accidents relative to the number of P&G laundry pacs sold is declining from when they were first were introduced to the marketplace.”

laundry pod dangers to children

Congress is even getting involved. The Detergent PACS Act of 2015 would require the CPSC to introduce safety standards and require the makers of laundry pods to make them less attractive to kids.

Do you Toss the Pods

It’s a personal call. They are not being pulled from the shelves, and this is just a Consumer Reports warning. Judging by the increase in the number of calls in the face of safety changes, erring on the side of caution is the best course of action.

If you have children under six, stick with traditional detergents. Follow the normal safety steps you take with your young kids by keeping household cleaners out of reach.

Read more about the Consumer Reports warning and recommendation.


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