Tide Pods have gotten a lot of attention over the last couple of years, especially after several health scares in 2012. There were over 6,000 calls to poison control centers that year reporting children becoming seriously ill after biting into concentrated detergent packets. These detergent packets are not just made by Tide. Many other laundry and dishwasher detergent brands, including Finish, Purex and Ajax, make these packets. But, due to Tide Pods’ popularity, it took the brunt of the blame for these incidents. Which is why two years later people are still asking, are Tide Pods safe to have around the house?
Tide Pods are concentrated laundry detergent packets, which contain detergent, stain remover and brightener all in one brightly colored and squishy ball. Using it is simple. All you have to do is throw it in the washer with your clothes, towels or whatever you’re trying to wash, and turn it on. The packet dissolves in hot and cold water and works in any machine, thoroughly taking care of your dirty clothes.
Prices for Tide Pods range from $9.99 and $21.99 depending on how many you buy from Target and CVS. Viewpoints reviewers give this product a score of 89/100 based on nearly 400 reviews, saying it works well and is convenient.
“Overall this product is great. I live in a small apartment where I have to go downstairs for laundry…I do not have to lug my huge tub of detergent down to the basement anytime I have to do laundry. I can just grab a few pods and go! Even though this product is small, it still does an amazing job cleaning my clothing. I have never had any issues with it not removing spots or stains.” –lmitch224, Reviewer since 2013
The initial safety concerns
Tide Pods, of course, are not perfect and have been the cause of several serious health scares in young children. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) Tide Pods, and other concentrated laundry detergent packets, have a strong effect when children ingest it. Most detergents only cause mild stomach upset, if anything. Detergent packets have caused excessive vomiting, wheezing, gasping, and serious breathing problems calling for the use of a ventilator. Some children become very sleepy.
The AAPCC does not disclose on their website specifically why detergent packets have such a strong effect. However, because the detergent is concentrated it can be assumed that it is stronger than normal liquid detergent in more ways than just cleaning power. The AAPCC also states that because these packets are colorful and squishy, they are attractive to children. Some might think it looks like candy or a toy so parents and caregivers need to take extra precautions to keep detergent packets locked away.
New safety measures
Tide has taken a few steps to try and keep children from getting access to its Pods. First, on the front of its container, and on the product page, there are large labels instructing to keep out of the reach of children. Tide also repackaged its Tide Pods so there is a safety latch on the container, making it harder for children to open. It should be noted, though, that not all Tide Pods come in containers. There are still forms that are sold in bags and have no additional safety features other than the warning on the front.
How to keep your family safe
The AAPCC does not warn consumers to stay away from Tide Pods, and according to many of our reviews the product does work well. So if you want to use this effective and convenient product, go ahead. Just make sure to take a few steps to insure that your home is safe. First, Poison Control does say to keep the detergent containers closed, sealed and stored up high. If you buy yours in a bag, find a Tupperware container to keep it in so if it falls off of a shelf, it won’t open and roll everywhere. They also advise you to follow the instructions on the product label. However, if you ever do suspect that a child has come into contact with a concentrated detergent packet call 1-800-222-1222.
Editor’s Note: When the AAPCC uses the term “contact” or “exposure”, it refers to ingestion, inhalation and absorption by eyes or skin.