Laundry Detergent Packets

Highly concentrated “single-load liquid laundry packets” can cause serious harm to young children.

5,635 Kids 5 and younger

Exposed to single-load laundry packets from Jan. 1, 2014, to June 30, 2014

Poison centers receive many calls each year about children getting into laundry detergent. Swallowing it often causes mild stomach upset, if there are any symptoms at all, but poison center experts say the new highly concentrated single-load liquid laundry detergent packets seem to be different.

Some children who have gotten the product in their mouths have had excessive vomiting, wheezing and gasping. Some get very sleepy. Some have had breathing problems serious enough to need a ventilator to help them breathe.  There have also been reports of corneal abrasions (scratches to the eyes) when the detergent gets into a child’s eyes.

The experts at your local poison center urge parents and caregivers to:

  • Always keep detergent containers closed, sealed and stored up high, out of the reach of children.
  • Follow the instructions on the product label.
  • Call your local poison center at 1-800-222-1222 immediately if you suspect a child has come in contact with this detergent.

In 2013, poison centers received reports of 10,387 exposures to highly concentrated packets of laundry detergent by children 5 and younger.


PLEASE NOTE: The term "exposure" means someone has had contact with the substance in some way; for example, ingested, inhaled, absorbed by the skin or eyes, etc. Not all exposures are poisonings or overdoses.

Laundry Packet Exposures Reported to Poison Centers (Children 5 and younger)

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