Hazards of Single-load Laundry Detergent Packets

Noble McIntyre on June 4, 2013


Baby- and child-proofing your house can be daunting, but it’s necessary. If you have a young child, you may already be taking lots of precautions when it comes to hazardous chemicals in your home. Although there are endless ways that children can find trouble, there are some simple things that you can do to eliminate at least some of the hazards. Of course, there’s never a substitute for good supervision; being carefully watched by a parent or caregiver prevents a lot more accidents than any amount of childproofing. However, there are bound to be moments when the adult in charge needs to take his or her eyes off the little rascals, and you want to be sure that the little ones don’t get into something they shouldn’t.

“Hazardous chemicals” means a lot of things. You may think of the obvious: antifreeze, bleach, drain cleaner, ammonia and the like. However, there many substances that you may not consider hazardous, but they are harmful if ingested by a child. A prime example of an attractive, but hazardous, substance is single-load liquid laundry detergent packets.

Single-Load Liquid  Laundry Packets Harm by USCPSC, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  USCPSC

These single-load packets are attractive to babies and children because they look like toys, teethers or even candy. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has warned that the packets are extremely harmful if the liquid is ingested. In 2012, there were 500 incidents of people injured by these products; children have required hospitalization because of loss of consciousness, excessive vomiting, drowsiness, throat swelling and difficulty breathing. As well, eye contact with the detergent can cause severe irritation and temporary vision loss.

Because the packets are “sealed”, you might be less concerned about your toddler handling them than you would be about, perhaps, an open bottle of detergent. But, don’t let the plastic exterior fool you. The packets are designed to dissolve quickly when in contact with water. Therefore, the highly concentrated toxic chemicals will be released immediately when a child puts them in his mouth or if they are touched with wet hands.

Fortunately, this is one childhood safety hazard that is easy to prevent: Keep out of reach of children! The CPSC recommends that you:

  • Do not allow children to handle laundry packets
  • Keep the packets sealed in their original packaging
  • Keep packets locked away and out of a child’s reach, just as you would with any other chemical
  • Be sure your own hands are dry when handling the packets

If swallowed or exposed to the eye, call Poison Help at 1-800-222-1222.


Noble McIntyre

Noble McIntyre is the senior partner and owner of McIntyre Law who focuses primarily on drug litigation and catastrophic injury cases. He is currently representing clients injured by the drugs Paxil, Levaquin and testosterone therapy drugs and by clients affected by oil field injuries. His goal has and continues to be to work diligently on behalf of his clients to achieve the highest and best result for his clients’ injuries while maintaining professionalism and abiding by all ethical standards of his profession. Read more about Noble McIntyre.


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