Laundry detergent packets are bright, colorful, and smell good. However, a child can easily mistake them for a toy or a treat. Each year, poison centers receive a number of calls about children getting into laundry detergent.
According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), in January 2018, poison control centers nationwide reported receiving over 600 incidents of exposure to high-concentration detergent packets by children 5 and younger.
Exposure to laundry detergent packets can cause serious health complications. Symptoms resulting from contact by mouth, eyes, and/or ingestion of laundry packets by children may include:
- Excessive vomiting.
- Wheezing and gasping.
- Child feeling very sleepy.
- Corneal abrasions.
- Severe breathing problems (may result in the use of a ventilator to help with breathing).
Safety measures that parents and caregivers can take to prevent serious injuries to children include the following:
- Always keep detergent containers closed, sealed and stored up high, out of the reach of children.
- Allow children to help fold and sort clothes, but do NOT allow them to add detergent packets to the laundry.
- Follow the instructions on the product label.
- Call your local poison center at 1-800-222-1222 immediately if you suspect a child has been exposed to detergent.