If you’re a Pinterest addict or frequently browse DIY sites, you’ve probably come across instructions for creating Halloween candy buckets out of laundry pod containers. Fluorescent orange Tide PODS® tubs can easily be transformed into pumpkins, and others can be used to construct a child’s favorite movie character or unique costume accessory.
While the appeal of a convenient and cost-effective alternative to purchasing a candy bucket is understandable, teaching young children to associate laundry pod containers with candy or toys could have very dangerous consequences.
Laundry detergent pods have made headlines in recent years following reports of accidental poisonings involving young children. Despite various PSAs and safety notices warning parents of the dangers, nearly 12,600 incidents of laundry pod exposure involving young children were reported to poison centers across the country in 2015.
Ingestion of laundry pods can result in excessive vomiting, difficulty breathing, severe respiratory distress, coma or even death. A child could also suffer burns and other injuries to their skin or eyes if a pod breaks open or leaks.
The concentrated detergent used in laundry pods poses much greater risks than regular detergents, and to children the pods themselves can resemble candy or toys. Many manufacturers have switched to brightly colored, opaque packaging to help conceal the contents of the tubs, and some have taken additional preventative measures by adding child-resistant latches.
Even if you take precaution and store laundry pods correctly in your home, you cannot guarantee that relatives, caretakers or parents of your child’s friends will do the same. To avoid reinforcing the dangerous association between the containers and candy or toys, laundry pod tubs should not be repurposed to hold those items at any point during the year. In general, it’s not a good idea to store food of any kind in a detergent container (even if it has been washed) due to contamination risks.
If you believe your child may have ingested or been exposed to a laundry pod, contact your local poison center at 1-800-222-1222 immediately.