WI Poison Center 1-800-222-1222



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Highly Concentrated Laundry Detergent Packets

Use of highly concentrated liquid laundry detergent packets is on the rise, with Tide Pods being the most common. But other, similar products include All Mighty Pacs, Dropps Laundry Pacs, and Purex Ultra Packs. Convenient and easy to use, these often are found in homes with young children.

The packets are designed to dissolve rapidly when exposed to water in the washing machine. They are colorful, squishy and are attractive to children. Some even look like candy or a toy.

Poison centers receive many calls each year about children getting into laundry detergents. Usually, swallowing laundry detergent causes only mild irritation, sometimes diarrhea or even no symptoms at all. Toxicologists say the new laundry packets seem to be different. Sucking on, ingesting or squeezing one of these new packets can cause:

  • Protracted vomiting, wheezing and gasping

  • Extreme sleepiness

  • Breathing issues, including needing a ventilator to assist ventilation

  • Eye exposures, sometimes resulting in severe irritation

In 2012, the Wisconsin Poison Center handled more than 100 cases involving laundry detergent packets. These cases all affected young children who either put their mouths on or squeezed the packets, causing them to erupt into their faces or mouths. Many of the callers said the packets "exploded." There were no fatalities attributed to these products, but the exposures caused substantial distress, and more than half resulted in a visit to a health care provider.

Each poison case can display unique characteristics, so if you have any concerns or questions regarding this or other product exposures, please call Wisconsin Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.