Detergent Pods and Kids Don’t Mix

Written by Debra Luben, M.D. on Apr 29, 2017 8:09:00 AM

Those small plastic pouches, or pods, filled with laundry or dishwashing soap are convenient and can help save a little time. But I’d like to warn you that detergent pods also can cause painful eye problems if children bite or squeeze them. 

Detergent pods are brightly colored and tempt many children, especially younger ones, to play with them or try to eat them. Since these products became available in 2012, they have caused injury to thousands of children.  

Study Reveals Danger








In 2014, a study published in the Journal of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus reported on 10 children under 4 who were brought to the hospital because they got liquid from detergent pods into their eyes. All had red, painful and bloodshot eyes and corneal abrasions. 

At the hospital, the children’s eyes were irrigated (rinsed) and treated with antibiotic ointment. They recovered in an average of four days. 

Why Are Pods More Dangerous?

The detergent in the pods is more concentrated than the powdered or bottled type, making it more toxic. Keep in mind: It’s so strong that you can wash an entire load of clothes or dishes with just one pod. 

Some makers of detergent pods design packaging to be child proof – but it’s not mandatory. So it’s buyer beware. 

It’s More than Just Eyes 

Another study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, was the first to take a comprehensive look at the dangers of detergent pods to children in the United States. It discovered that more than 17,000 children under the age of 6 were injured by the pods in 2012 and 2013. More than 750 children were hospitalized, and one child died. Eye injuries accounted for almost 20 percent of the injuries. 


Be Safe – Not Sorry 

If you decide to use detergent pods, please be careful to protect your children. Store them out of the reach of little hands in packaging they can’t open. You should use the same care you would with any toxic chemical, such as bleach. 

If a child accidentally gets into a detergent pod, call the local poison-control helpline or 800-222-1222 immediately.  

Do you use detergent pods? Has your child ever tried to eat one? 


Dr. Debra Luben is a board-certified pediatrician at Kelsey-Seybold’s Main Campus clinic. Her clinical interests are centered on preventive medicine and wellness.


Topics: eye injury, kids eyes, detergent pods

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