Make sure your kids can’t get to liquid laundry detergent packets

Published on Friday, 21 April 2017 11:09 - Written by PATRICE DUNAGIN, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Toddlers and young children spend their days exploring the world around them. A child is designed to use his eyes, ears, hands and mouth to explore. When a child sees an object of interest he will naturally seek it out, pick it up and put it in his mouth. Young children require close supervision, especially in the laundry room.

Liquid laundry packets are used by millions of consumers each year, and contain highly-concentrated, pre-measured amount of detergent. These packets are very convenient to use, but as a household cleaning product, they must be kept up and out of reach and sight of small children.

According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, there were 12,594 exposures to single-use laundry packets in 2015, by children age 5 and younger. These exposures consisted of ingesting, inhaling, or absorbing the detergent in their eyes or skin.

The manufacturers of these laundry packets have made a number of changes since the liquid laundry packets first hit the market. These changes include new packaging, new warning labels and adding a bittering substance to the film of each packet. But with proper storage, up and out of reach of small children, accidents can easily be prevented by making sure kids never get their hands on them in the first place.

If you find a child with a packet in his mouth, call the Poison Help Line at 1-800-222-1222.

Poison specialists say there have always been cases of children ingesting household cleaners, but laundry packets are different because children can be more severely injured relatively quickly. Although other detergents may cause mild upset stomach or may not cause any symptoms at all, highly concentrated laundry packets can make children very sick.

Symptoms of ingestion can range in severity and may include vomiting, wheezing, drooling, severe drowsiness and burning of mouth, throat, eyes and lungs.

Remember to never let children handle laundry packets, even with supervision. Do not cut, tear, or puncture laundry packets.

If laundry packets stick together, throw them away. Always handle laundry packets with dry hands. The film that encases the laundry detergent is designed to dissolve quickly, even in small amounts of water.

Add the liquid laundry packet to the bottom (drum) of the washing machine, for both top loader and high efficiency front-loader machines, before adding the clothes to ensure children are not attracted by the packet. This also produces the best results.

Always ensure the re-closable bag or container holding the laundry packets is tightly sealed after each use and during storage.

Keep laundry packets in their original container with labels intact.

After use, immediately put laundry products away in an area that is out of reach of children and pets, or in a locked cabinet or storage area.

For more information, contact Patrice Dunagin, Smith County FCS agent for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, at 903-590-2980.