Laundry packets have been in the news a lot the last few years, as safety experts and parents expressed concerns about how safe they are for kids. Reports emerged that some children, mistaking them for candy, were being poisoned. Detergent manufacturers have taken proactive steps to create child-resistant packaging and stricter standards for labeling, but a new study shows that, when left within access of kids, they still pose serious health risks.
The report found that the number of chemical burns in the eyes of preschool-aged children from these products was 32 times higher in 2015 than in 2012, when the packets were first introduced. Looking at data from consumer reports of eye infections and chemical burns caused by detergent pods in three- and four-year-olds, this study found that only 12 cases were reported in 2012. In 2015, 480 cases were reported.
It’s likely that the dramatic rise in these incidents is not because these products have become more dangerous, but rather the fact that they are being used more and more in households across America because they’re so convenient.
“All cleaning products — especially single-dose laundry packets — should be kept away from children and pets not only when stored, but when in use, too,” says Carolyn E. Forté, Director of Home Appliances, Cleaning Products and Textiles Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute. “It takes seconds for kids to get their hands on them.”
While Forté believes these packs are great, she recommends extra vigilance in households where children live or visit.
“If that’s not possible, you should stock up on an alternative product,” she says.