Kids Worldwide Still Snarfing Detergent Pods Like Candy

tide_pods-thumb-240xauto-1082In hindsight, maybe brightly-colored, individually wrapped dollops of laundry detergent weren’t such a great idea from a safety point of view. Sure, they’re popular: pre-measured soap is handy, and they keep people who use laundromats or apartment building machines from hauling giant bottles around. The disadvantage is that even with warnings to keep the products on a high shelf and promises to change the packaging to make it more childproof, kids everywhere seem to find the pods irresistible.

In one 18-month span, doctors at a hospital in Glasgow, Scotland documented five cases of children between the ages of 10 and 24 months who required hospitalization after eating detergent pods. All recovered, but one spent time on a ventilator and another needed surgery because of swelling and ulceration. All five kids made full recoveries, but the cluster of cases alarmed the doctors enough to make them write about it.

The Consumer Products Safety Commission is concerned because pod ingestion leads to more serious problems for kids than consuming liquid or powdered detergent would. (Not that drinking detergent is ever a good idea, kids.) They often suffer nausea and metabolic problems, and when packets burst, the soap may damage the child’s eyes.

Lock up your soap pods, laundry and dishwasher alike.

Single-dose detergents a poisoning hazard for young children [Consumer Reports]
Liquid detergent capsule ingestion in children: an increasing trend [Archives of Disease in Childhood]

New Tide Pods Box Will Aim To Keep Kids From Feeding On Detergent


Edit Your Comment

  1. kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

    Make them in the shape of broccoli. Problem solved.

  2. klobbersaurus685 says:

    This is really not a trolling comment but….
    If the kid isn’t smart enough to not eat soap and the parent isn’t smart enough to keep cleaning products picked up, let it happen. It’ll thin the herd and leave more room for people who didn’t eat cleaning products.
    I just have no pity for stupid crap like this.

    • MathMan aka Random Talker says:

      I believe what you were trying to say was this….

      As per:

      [trying to collect Christmas donations]
      2nd Portly Gentleman: What may we put you down for, sir?
      Scrooge: Nothing, sir.
      1st Portly Gentleman: Ah, you wish to remain anonymous.
      Scrooge: I wish to be left alone, sir! That is what I wish! I don’t make myself merry at Christmas and I cannot afford to make idle people merry. I have been forced to support the establishments I have mentioned through taxation and God knows they cost more than they’re worth. Those who are badly off must go there.
      2nd Portly Gentleman: Many would rather die than go there.
      Scrooge: If they’d rather die, then they had better do it and decrease the surplus population. Good night, gentlemen.
      [walks away, then turns back]
      Scrooge: Humbug!

    • oatmealpacket says:

      Something tells me that “klobbersaurus685” isn’t exactly the name by which we’ll know Der Übermensch, either.

    • Costner says:

      The kids documented in Scotland were between 10 and 24 months old. How smart were you when you were 10 months old?

      Sure the parents are idiots for leaving detergent within reach of a child, but should we punish a child or “thin the herd” for the mistakes of a parent? There are also such things as legitimate accidents where a container of pods spills and the parent thinks they picked them all up but maybe they missed one. Or perhaps a dog or cat jumped up on the washing machine and knocked them over.

      • klobbersaurus685 says:

        smart enough not to eat soap.
        I guess my issue with all these new stories and warnings about kids being stupid and eating soap is I don’t remember ever seeing a news story telling me not to drink Tide.
        People are getting dumber and everyone else making excuses or just calling it an accident aren’t helping. I’m not saying ‘punish’ the child, but if the parent is dumb enough to leave deadly cleaning supplies within reach of the kid, maybe they’d be better off.
        People need to stop handing out participation ribbons for everyone and maybe, even at 10 months, start teaching their kids to be responsible.
        Maybe my anger is being placed at the wrong thing, but my problem is 99% of parents today suck and are raising a bunch of pussies.

        • sparc says:

          at 10 months, we should be training kids to be responsible? you don’t live in reality or have little concept of how young children work.

          Plus, accidents do happen or people underestimate the ability of young children getting into places they shouldn’t. What happens if you accidentally dropped one of those packets on the floor and your kid ends with lifelong problems after that?

          The reality is that these packages should be re-designed to be kid safe. Zero kids should be getting into trouble. It’s 2012… this should be an easy fix by these billion dollar conglomerates.

          • erinpac says:

            I don’t know of any laundry detergent you can eat, and they’ve redesigned the packages multiple times – you can’t prevent EVERY spill for an item that is supposed to come out of the package to be used. So then you’re left with some sort of coating that dissolves in water, but not in spit, stomach acid or when smashed… I don’t see such an “easy fix”.

          • JollySith says:

            Yes accidents happen, but responsible parenting can prevent 90% of them.
            Also there is no such a thing as kid safe. The worst thing that happened to my son at the 10 month stage was that he pulled a piece of plastic of a child proof outlet cover and choked on it.

          • RayanneGraff says:

            “at 10 months, we should be training kids to be responsible? you don’t live in reality or have little concept of how young children work.

            Yes. Teaching & training should start at birth.

        • Costner says:

          “maybe, even at 10 months, start teaching their kids to be responsible.”

          Gigantic fucking facepalm. Come back after you have actually interacted with a 10 month old and let me know how easy it is to explain the concept of responsibility to them.

          Maybe in your perfect utopia real accidents don’t happen, but even if you are a “smart” parent and keep all your cleaning chemicals out of reach of children accidents do happen (which is why they are called accidents). My example of a pet knocking over a container is one such example. Some cats have even been known to open cupboards and climb in… but I suppose you would still blame the pet owner and tell them they need to teach their cats how to be responsible since there are young children in the home.

          I understand your premise even if I think you are slightly overboard, but be realistic… kids are no dumber than they were 50 years ago.

          • RayanneGraff says:

            “Gigantic fucking facepalm. Come back after you have actually interacted with a 10 month old and let me know how easy it is to explain the concept of responsibility to them.”

            I know that wasn’t directed at me, but I’ve interacted with a 10 month old, and it’s entirely possible to teach them things. People vastly underestimate kids nowadays. I remember being a year old & being fully aware when I was doing something I wasn’t supposed to be doing. There’s this magical word known as “NO” that, when used to stop a toddler from touching things they’re not supposed to, can work wonders.

      • RayanneGraff says:

        By age two I was speaking in full sentences & knew the order of the planets. I was also smart enough to know not to eat something that tasted bad, like soap. And when I was 10 months, my mom kept cleaning products out of my reach.

    • GenXCub says:

      Darwinism! Also, cavebabies get what they deserve.

    • ancientone567 says:

      You mean Social Darwinism? lol I love the idea.

  3. Jane_Gage says:

    DIRECTIONS FOR USE: Determine area of infestation. Children like bright lights, noises, are diurnal, and like to congregate around electronics, water, brightly-colored objects, and food. Signs of infestation include messes and traumatized animals. Remove foil partway on pod container. Hazardous to fish and domestic animals. Once infestation has abated, surplus pod contents may be used to wash clothing.

  4. SerenityDan says:

    Where are you keeping them that a 10 month old can get to them? Why is your 10 month old unsupervised? Stupid people that are going to ruin things for everyone.

  5. nugatory says:

    “even with warnings to keep the products on a high shelf”

    Are there any parents here with toddlers that actually keep ANY cleaning products where the kids can reach them?

    • Stickdude says:

      5 sets of parents in Scotland, apparently.

      • Liam Kinkaid says:

        We don’t know that it was 5 separate sets of parents. The age range is 10 – 24 months, that’s a span of 14 months. Plenty of time for two of the afflicted children to be from the same family.

        • Liam Kinkaid says:

          Oh, and further, the time frame was 18 months. One really dumb family could have easily had four of those cases.

  6. donjumpsuit says:

    Make the outer plastic extremely bitter.

    • HalOfBorg says:

      Might not work – kids LOVE strong flavors. I used to pour huge amounts of lemon into tea and drink it all down. Maybe it’d work on real young kids – I dunno.

      • donjumpsuit says:

        If you’ve ever had the solution that they make to stop children from sucking one’s thumb, you know that they make a type of bitter that in no way shape or form would any child like to keep in their mouth for more than a half a second.
        If a child does LOVE this, then you may have more problems than just this, like those shows where people have weird additions like eating the couch or drinking gasoline.

    • Razor512 says:

      could coat the outside with medium acid (the moment a kid tries to eat it, it will burn like crazy and they will stop., or just change the packaging to say “Darwin approved”

      • Coleoptera Girl says:

        Do you think capsaicin might work? A large enough amount would get the kid shrieking so an inattentive parent might actually pay attention…

  7. PaulR says:

    I’ve always asked ‘Why, oh why, is toilet bowl cleaner scented to smell good?”.

  8. redskull says:

    OK, I admit it’s been a long time since I was a toddler, so I’ve no doubt forgotten what it’s like. But even if I was a small child and found one of these balls of soap, I can’t imagine taking more than one bite out of one.

    Are kids really dumb enough to take a bite, think “Oh, man, that’s awful” and then keep going until it’s gone?

  9. Lethe says:

    Sounds like something should be done about these, not poor innocent Buckyballs.

    • seedybob says:

      Yup, however I’m guessing the $4.04 million in lobbying spent by Proctor and Gamble ensures they won’t be targeted like Buckyballs was.

      From their website:
      “For the 2011 calendar year, P&G reported U.S. lobbying expenditures of $4.04 million in the lobbying disclosure reports filed with the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives”

  10. Costner says:

    Everyone knows there are a lot cheaper ways to poison your kid. The Purex Ultra Packs or the All All-Mighty Pacs can kill a child for 60% less cost!

  11. cybrczch says:

    Please tell me that 10 to 24 is one of the infamous Consumerist “you need a proof-reader” misprints??? If a 24 year old can’t tell the difference between laundry soap and candy, or read the package, well…. sigh…

  12. Invader Zim says:

    Wooweee, numbers next to our comments and bullets

    • scoosdad says:

      That’s so the 10 to 24 month olds among Consumerist’s readers can learn to count.

      In between sucking down laundry detergent, of course.

  13. JollySith says:

    I buy the pods because I have a kid.
    No I don’t want him dead. But he does help with the laundry. The pods keep him from putting half a bottle of detergent in each load.

    • jefeloco says:

      I had to resort to the same solution because of my wife; she always wants to put in full “cups” of detergent because “why would they include a cup this big if you’re not supposed to fill it?” was how she was raised.

      Of course, now she keeps asking me if one pod is really enough for a load… She will make a container of (insert whatever) drink mix last forever though because she uses 1/3-1/2 of the recommended amount no matter what. Frugality is a mixed bag with some people :)

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        I secretly use less than half a cup because I don’t think half a cup is even the necessary amount to wash an entire load of laundry.

  14. snarfies says:

    Darwin’s dead hand wins again.

  15. moonunitrappa says:

    Before we start blaming the children for stupidity, has ANYONE even mentioned the gel like candies you find in some stores that look JUST like these pods? Exactly the same size, just as colorful. I see them in Asian and Mexican stores as well as discount stores all over the U.S.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      Some of the candy bottles look just like these too, especially the ones with colored sugar inside like baby bottle pops, it wouldn’t be hard for a kid to try to open one and then put the detergent in their mouths thinking it was candy.

      Parents can try but accidents are bound to happen no matter how careful the parent is, parents simply cannot have their eye on their toddler every minute of every day.

    • JollySith says:

      Except who give a 10 month old baby candy? At 10 months they could reasonable still be breastfeeding. They haven’t learned to associate anything with candy yet if you are being a responsible parent.

  16. noahproblem1 says:

    This is abot as bad as Fabuloso cleaner – the one that looks like a nice tasty grape drink:

  17. Razor512 says:

    Remove the warnings then put a article about Darwin on the back of the box and continue to stock them ans normally. This problem will then sort it’s self out.

    (you would think someone would stop eating it the second they taste it)

  18. MarkFL says:

    You can be careful with such things, but ultimately children have to interact with people besides their parents, and with the situations those other people leave behind. If you keep the detergent pods hidden away, the kids are less likely to be aware that they are potentially dangerous, and then they are more likely to ingest them when they encounter them out in the world. (Same applies if you don’t even use the pods.) Packages break open, kids go to other people’s homes or accompany parents to public laundry rooms, etc.

    I work in inventory, so I’m constantly in different stores. It’s amazing how often I find dessicant packages floating around in stores — usually inside a product, but occasionally loose on a shelf. If I see one, I make sure to remove them and give them to an employee to throw away. When I worked in a store, I always made sure to remove the packages before putting merchandise on the shelf, but some of my co-workers, and even other managers, didn’t want to be bothered with it. One actually said to me that if the kid were dumb enough to think it’s a salt packet, too bad. I’d be interested to know how that holds up in court during the lawsuit.