American ASSOCIATION
of poison control centers


LAUNDRY DETERGENT PACKETS

While poison control centers receive many calls each year about children getting into all kinds of laundry detergents, experts recognize that highly concentrated single-load liquid laundry detergent can cause serious harm to young children. The membrane increasing the soap is designed to dissolve when in contact with moisture, creating a risk of exposure when placed in the mouth or handled by wet hands.

Some children who have eaten the product have had excessive vomiting, wheezing, and gasping. Some get very sleepy. Some have had breathing problems serious enough to need a ventilator. There have also been reports of corneal abrasions (scratches to the eyes) when the detergent gets into a child’s eyes. There are also reports of severe outcomes related to exposures in older adults.

As of October 31, 2020, poison control centers have managed 9,008 cases related to laundry detergent packet exposure in children 5 and younger.

FOR THE MEDIA:

Please cite this data as “National Poison Data System, American Association of Poison Control Centers.” Any and all print, digital, social, or visual media using this data must include the: “You can reach your local poison control center by calling the Poison Help hotline: 1-800-222-1222. To save the number in your mobile phone, text POISON to 797979.” Email media@aapcc.org or call 703-894-1863 for more information, questions, or to submit request data.

 MOST RECENT DATA

PREVENTION TIPS

  1. Always keep detergent containers closed, sealed and stored up high, out of sight and reach of children.

  2. If a child wants to help with the laundry, never allow them to handle a single-load laundry packet.

  3. Follow the instructions on the product label.

  4. Do not handle the products with wet hands.

  5. Call the Poison Help hotline at 1-800-222-1222 immediately if you suspect a child has come in contact with this detergent.

RESOURCES

In early 2018, a trend among teenagers to intentionally ingest the packets – and upload videos of themselves doing so to various internet platforms – caused significant concern among poison control centers. Please contact media@aapcc.org to request data related to these intentional exposures.


 AAPCC STATEMENT

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Important notes about poison control center data

AAPCC maintains the National Poison Data System (NPDS) , the national database of information logged by the country’s regional poison control centers serving all 50 United States, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and territories. Case records in this database are from self-reported calls: they reflect only information provided when the public or healthcare professionals report an actual or potential exposure to a substance, request information, or request educational materials. As such:
  • AAPCC is not able to completely verify the accuracy of every report made to member centers.
  • Additional exposures may go unreported to poison control centers and data referenced from the AAPCC should not be construed to represent the complete incidence of national exposures to any substance(s).
  • Poison control call volume about any given substance is influenced by the public’s awareness of the hazard or even the Poison Help hotline itself, which are heavily influenced by both social and traditional media coverage.
  • Poison control data are considered preliminary and are subject to change until the dataset for a given year has been locked.
  • AAPCC is continuously working to update the NPDS substance coding taxonomy to better serve the needs of AAPCC members and surveillance partners. As a result, substances may be reclassified within NPDS’ coding hierarchy, and case counts may change. This is particularly true for novel or emerging substances.

The term “exposure” means someone has had contact with the substance in some way; for example, ingested, inhaled, or absorbed a substance by the skin or eyes, etc. Exposures do not necessarily represent poisonings or overdoses.


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