This Common Laundry Product is Poisoning a Child Every 45 Minutes!

Every 45 minutes, a child is injured or poisoned by a laundry pod, those brightly colored detergent “time savers” consumers can just drop into the washing machine or dishwasher and walk away. The problem is, some children are being carried away in ambulances after ingesting these products.

At least two deaths have been associated with a child biting into a laundry detergent pod, according to Consumer Reports. In addition, U.S. poison control centers received 10,877 calls concerning children younger than age 6 who had ingested, inhaled, or had their skin exposed to the contents of laundry pods in 2013. During the following year, that number increased to 11,714, with experts noting a rising trend in 2015 as well. The majority of injuries (73.5%) occur in children younger than 3 years.

Exposure to the laundry pod detergent on the skin and in the eyes can cause burns, scarring, and corneal damage. Children who ingest the detergent can experience vomiting, coughing, and burns to the mouth and throat, while more serious symptoms can include delirium, seizures, breathing difficulties, and coma. More than 100 children have needed to be intubated after ingesting the pods.

One of those children was 8-month-old Cate Koziol, whose mother placed one of the pods on top of her laundry basket and then turned away to pick up some toys. The attractive pod caught the attention of the toddler, and that’s when the horror story began.

A call to a poison control center resulted in the operator advising a wait-and-see approach, which is common for typical laundry detergent exposure. These new laundry pods, however, are more toxic, and when the toddler began vomiting, her mother called 911. Cate was taken to a pediatric emergency room, where she eventually ended up being intubated and placed in intensive care. After two worrisome days, the child’s breathing normalized and an examination showed no permanent damage to her esophagus. But not all children are as lucky.

Preventing Laundry Pod Poisoning

On the industry and public sides of the issue, the authors of a Pediatrics report noted some way to tackle the laundry detergent pod issue: that is, the need to improve product labeling and packaging (i.e., making the pods more difficult to penetrate), reformulating the product to “mitigate the severity of clinical effects” (but the detergent is still toxic), and public education.

Read more: Avoid Toxins Use Natural Cleaning Products

Indeed, some laundry pod makers are instituting some changes, such as making the pods more difficult to open and adding a bitter taste to the detergent. A few have participated in public education campaigns.

However, you can vote with your wallet. The solution is clear: do not use laundry detergent pods if you have young children. Even if you don’t have small children living with you or visiting (attention grandparents, babysitters, daycare facilities, etc.), it’s best to forego these poisonous pods if you have pets, since they are toxic to dogs and cats as well.

When choosing a nontoxic laundry detergent, you have two choices: buy one of the safe detergents on the market (Environmental Working Group has a list) or make your own. You may have seen DIY laundry detergent recipes that include borax, but this substance can be dangerous for humans, so beware!

Making your own safe laundry detergent requires only three ingredients: liquid or bar soap (e.g., Dr. Bronners, Fels Naptha, Kirk’s Castile; you will need to make shavings of the bar soap), vinegar, and water. You can add a few drops of essential oil if you want a fragrance. The overall cost per load will be less than half of what you pay in the stores for name brands.  

Read more: 9 Chemical-Free Cleaners You Can Make at Home

I have seen comments from consumers online about how the laundry detergent pods don’t clean as well as liquid or powder detergent and how some individuals have had repair people find tangled pod coverings in their washing machines. True, these are not poisoning issues, but they are another good reason why consumers may want to avoid laundry pod use!

Consumer Reports. The problem with laundry detergent pods.
eHow Discover. What happens if borax is ingested?
Gray ME, West CE. Corneal injuries from liquid detergent pods. Journal of AAPOS. 2014 Oct; 18(5): 494-45
Nightly News. Poison alert. Video
USA Today. Consumer Reports: Laundry detergent ‘pods’ too dangerous to recommend.
Valdez AL et al. Pediatric exposure to laundry detergent pods. Pediatrics 2014 Dec; 134(6): 1127-35
WebMD. Laundry detergent pods pose poisoning risk to kids. 

By Deborah Mitchell| May 11, 2016
Categories:  Nest

About the Author

Deborah Mitchell

Deborah Mitchell

Deborah is a freelance health writer who is passionate about animals and the environment. She has authored, co-authored, and written more than 50 books and thousands of articles on a wide range of topics. Currently she lives in Tucson, Arizona. Visit her at

Add A Comment


Allowed HTML: <b>, <i>, <u>


What's Fresh




In the Spotlight

  • Emerald Health Bioceuticals

    Emerald Health Bioceuticals has developed the world’s first non-cannabis line of herbs and botanicals that go beyond CBD in supporting the endocannabinoid system.

  • Lily of the Desert

    The Original Super Juice. Aloe vera health benefits have been known for 5,000 years. Whether taken internally or applied topically, it has incredible benefits for digestion & soothes the skin.

  • Goddess Garden

    With Goddess Garden, you can trust their mineral-based sunscreen for the whole family. And with their recently released Sun Repair line, you can fix the sun damage from the past.

Copyright © Agility Inc. 2018