Be Safe with Dishwasher and Detergent Pods

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Posted on June 24th, 2013 by Kelly Over in Consumers

Kelly Over, our Education Program Assistant, shares some information about our latest addition to our look-alike display.

New household products are continuously popping up on the consumer market. While these products might provide innovative solutions in your home, it’s important to be conscious of how these new products could be mistaken for something consumable, resulting in an accidental poisoning.

Dishwasher, detergent, and other similar products are now offered in conveniently packaged options, commonly referred to as pods or packs. These products offer less waste in respect to the packaging, greater efficiency in product usage, and less opportunity for spillage. However, compared to traditional packaging of detergent and cleaners, these pods and packs contain more concentrated dosages which could result in more severe poisonings symptoms. Several news outlets, including NBCNews.com, New York Daily News, and Yahoo! Health, have reported stories on the dangers of children accidentally consuming the pods.

Example of Pods/Packs

Example of pods/packs

Example of Pods/Packs

Like other household products found around your home, pods and packs have the potential to be harmful if misused when mistaken for an edible product or when a child puts the product in their mouth. With our look-alike display, we focus on the similarities in appearance of safe and unsafe products in the form of liquids (such as a drinkable product of apple juice appearing similar to weed herbicides and tiki torch fluid), powders (a product like baking soda looking similar to flea powder), and solids (how sugar cubes look like moth balls.) Pods and packs could be mistaken for products around your home that could be edible, such as candy.

What kind of candy does this look like?

When we’ve asked what this product looks like, we’ve received answers of “Candy,” “Pop Rocks,” “Nerds,” “Bubble Gum”, and other sorts of candy.

And in reality, this product is a fabric softener pod.

Like our main educational message with the look-alikes, when using pods and packs, be conscious to:

  1. Store in a locked cabinet and out of a child’s reach
  2. Keep products in original containers and packaging
  3. Put Mr. Yuk stickers on the bag to alert children to stay away

Store in a locked cabinet and out of a child’s reach

Perhaps it seems obvious which products are pods and packs and which are candy, but be conscious of a child’s perspective of the product.  When showing the pods and packs to first graders, many students looked puzzled while some said “That’s candy!” or “That’s ice cream” or “That’s pudding!” Only a few knew it was a pod and its uses.

Keeping dishwasher detergent pods in a cabinet by the dishwasher or having laundry detergent pods on the floor next the washer might be convenient, but also accessible to young children. Be sure to keep pods and packs in a locked cabinet and out of child’s reach.

Keep products in original containers and packaging

Pods and packs should be kept in their original containers and packaging. The original containers and packaging provide product identification, as well as the label instructions on how to safely use the product. The original packaging also contains a signal word to alert potential hazard.

See the CAUTION signal word.

See the CAUTION signal word.

Even in the original packaging, the pods and packs can come in upright bags with resalable tops, which could be comparable to the packaging of snacks and other edible products.

Put Mr. Yuk on the packaging to alert children to stay away

Whether you’ve been questioning our similarities drawn between the pods and packs to candy and edibles or the appearances of the packaging, one thing is certain. Regardless of the color of the pod or style of packaging, like other detergents and cleaners, pods and packs can be hazardous if consumed. By teaching children that Mr. Yuk means to stay away and then placing Mr. Yuk on the product packaging, children can be alerted that they should not touch and should stay away from the product.  As always, it’s critically important to have the Poison Control Center number (1-800-222-1222) accessible and call the Poison Control Center for any poison emergencies or questions.

When used appropriately, pods and packs can provide a solution to household needs, but like many potentially hazardous products, the pods and packs can be accidentally mistaken and consumed by children. Be sure to store products in a safe place, leave in their original packaging, and use Mr. Yuk to identify the hazardous product. Contact our office if you need Mr. Yuk sticker sheets.

Pods and Taffy, if it's hard for you to tell the difference, what about to a small child?

Until next time,
Be Safe!

Where trade names appear, no discrimination is intended, and no endorsement by Penn State Cooperative Extension is implied.