Consumer Reports examines safety changes to laundry detergent pods

Detergent packets that you toss into the washer have risen in sales, but safety concerns for kids have increased.
Tuesday, July 01, 2014
Manufacturers have made some safety changes to those single use detergent pods that made headlines two years ago when children first started mistaking them for candy. Consumer Reports has partnered exclusively with 7 On Your Side to reveal those changes may still not be enough.

Laundry detergent packets that you just toss into the washing machine have risen in sales. But safety concerns for children have also increased with more than 20,000 calls to poison control centers since the packets went mainstream in 2012.

Alex Rohde is much better now, but it was touch and go just 9 months ago after he bit into a tide detergent pod from a package that had just been brought home from the store.

"He had so much diarrhea and so much throw-up coming out of his mouth. It was horrible. It was bad and when he turned blue, I would say, was probably the scariest part, except for the part when he quit breathing," said Michelle Rohde, mother.

His mother says Alex got the pod when one rolled under some furniture after the lid of the package popped open spilling all of them on the floor. Alex was airlifted to the hospital and ended up on a ventilator for seven days.

Consumer Reports says the candy-colored packets contain highly-concentrated detergent that is toxic to ingest.

"One big issue here is with the packaging. Now when these products first came out, some of the biggest manufacturers used clear containers that resembled snack jars," said Dan DiClerico, Consumer Reports.

And some of their lids were flimsy and not designed to deter children. Costco made the switch to an opaque container for its Kirkland detergent and has improved the lids. Procter and Gamble, the maker of Tide, has also introduced an opaque container with a child resistant lid.

"Another important change we think manufacturers should make - redesign the packets themselves so that they don't look like candy," said DiClerico.

At home, the most important precaution -- keep the containers closed and out of the reach of children.
If you think your child has been injured, do as Michelle did and call the Poison Control hotline immediately at 1-800-222-1222.

Another reason to think twice about single use detergent packets - Consumer Reports didn't recommend any of them in its last ratings in part because they don't do well in their new cool water test.

Consumer Reports is published by Consumers Union. Both Consumer Reports and Consumers Union are not-for-profit organizations that accept no advertising. Neither has any commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site.

(All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2014. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)
Related Topics:
shopping consumer reports 7 On Your Side raising healthy kids children's health health
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