If you have small children or a cognitively disabled adult in the house, keep liquid laundry detergent pods locked up or carefully stored out of reach. The colorful individual-use packets, which can resemble candy or juice, remain a substantial cause of accidental poisonings in the U.S. despite the introduction of a voluntary safety standard for them in 2015, according to a recent study in Pediatrics.
The researchers analyzed data collected by poison control centers nationwide from 2012 to 2017. Almost 73,000 exposures to liquid laundry detergent packets were reported during that time, the vast majority of them—92 percent—in children under age 6.
While the rate and severity of exposures in young children both declined after 2015, exposures among older children and adults continued to increase, the researchers noted. Of eight deaths related to ingesting laundry detergent packets, six were in adults who had dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or a developmental disability. (The other two were in children under 2.)
The study authors called for tightening standards around the products to further reduce exposures. Note that the same cautionary advice applies to dishwasher detergent pods.
Also see What to Do in a Poison Emergency.