Skip to Content

Laundry Pods Pose a Greater Poison Threat to Children Than Liquids or Powders

Stocking shelves at TargetStocking shelves at Target
Team member Kelsey Perez stocks the shelves with laundry detergent November 24, 2014 at the Glendale Target. Photograph by John Leyba — Denver Post via Getty Images

A new study has found that concentrated laundry-detergent pods, offered by brands like Tide, All, and Gain, caused more poisonings in children than other forms of detergent. The poisonings were also more extreme, causing two deaths and another two dozen life-threatening poisonings in 2013 and 2014.

Over the two-year period, a total of 62,254 children younger than six years old were exposed to laundry and dishwasher detergents. About 35% of those were due to laundry detergent pods, while 24% were attributed to dish detergent pods. The effects from laundry pods were much more severe than dish detergent. Seventeen children who ingested the laundry pods ended up in comas, six had respiratory arrest, and two suffered cardiac arrest, according to the study that was published in the journal Pediatrics Monday.

“Pediatric exposures to laundry detergent packets increased by 17% during the study period nationally and should be closely monitored to assess the effectiveness of the newly adopted voluntary safety standard,” the study authors wrote.


Producers of laundry pods have been making efforts to create safer products by designing child-resistant closures and coating the pods in a foul-tasting substance to deter children. But some critics say companies haven’t gone far enough to change the appearance or formulation of the pods, which can resemble candy or toys.

The study analyzed data collected prior to these changes, and the authors said that standards “should be strengthened if the number of exposures does not demonstrate a substantial decrease.” The authors also encouraged parents of young children to avoid the pods all together.