The Dangers of Laundry Pods

We had an awful scare not too long ago.  I have really struggled about whether or not to share this with you, but finally came to the conclusion that even if you think that I am a bad mom, sharing this story may help someone else and prevent another child from getting hurt, or worse…

While I was at work, my three year old found a laundry pod in the bathroom.  It was left on a bucket of laundry that was meant to be washed a few days earlier.  She went to use the toilet and rather than put the pod down so that she could pull down her pants, she tried to hold it in her mouth.  It burst and she swallowed a small amount of detergent.  She finished using the toilet and then went running out, crying, to our caregiver.  After figuring out what had happened, she wiped her hands and face and gave her some water to drink.  Luckily, this made my daughter vomit.  An ambulance was called and as my last class left, I received the phone call.  I flew out of work, a co-worker drove me home, I was so shaken.  We managed to meet the ambulance just before it left.

After arriving at the ER, the doctor checked her out and told us that we were lucky she vomited quickly but they wanted to keep her for observation for several hours to make sure she didn’t inhale any detergent when it popped.  The doctor in the ER had consulted with Poison Control and was advised that symptoms of inhalation could appear somewhere between 6 and 8 hours.

We were very lucky.  No symptoms appeared and my daughter was discharged.  We learned a few things while in the ER and through doing some research with Poison Control and several medical websites:

  1. The detergent in laundry pods is highly concentrated and therefore even more dangerous than regular liquid detergent.  Pods are convenient because you don’t have to measure, and if you live in an apartment like us where you have to lug everything down to the laundry room, much easier to carry a few pods than a while bottle of liquid detergent.
  2. Detergent is alkaline and can burn through a child’s esophagus when swallowed.  One nurse in the ER told us that sometimes the burn can be so bad that a feeding tube would have to be inserted in a child’s side (rather than through ordinary measures).  Even with the few drops that my child swallowed, her throat was red.
  3. IF YOU THINK YOUR CHILD MAY HAVE INGESTED EVEN A SMALL AMOUNT, CALL POISON CONTROL IMMEDIATELY!  THE NUMBER TO POISON CONTROL IS 1-800-222-1222.  You can also go to the website and get immediate help – the website is or .  For either website, just locate the orange “HELP ME with a possible poisoning” button.  Of course, in a real emergency, you should always call 911.   I recommend going on the website today and familiarizing yourself with the site.  You can also subscribe to its newsletter and check out articles and even donate to help support the site (the site is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization and all help is free and confidential).

2 Replies to “The Dangers of Laundry Pods”

  1. Ellen,
    Thanks for sharing. It is important to get that information out there. You are not a bad mom. Unfortunately, accidents happen.

    1. Thanks! I know that we often judge our own selves much more harshly than others would, but this incident definitely left me feeling like a bad mom.

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