Laundry detergent pods are colorful, plump and definitely not candy.
One of social media’s sillier memes has resurfaced lately, a joke with potentially dangerous consequences.
Jokes about eating laundry detergent capsules, particularly Tide PODS, tend to lament the “forbidden” nature of eating the harmful and potentially fatal packs. Some, however, go further and find humor in just going for it.
According to Know Your Meme, online jokes about eating the detergent date back to 2013, and some posts making light of the practice went viral in December and earlier in January.
Another Twitter user even went so far to ask the account for the fruit snack Gushers if it could make a version of its candy shaped like the pods.
But for those who take the joke too far, young children who don’t know the difference between pods and candy or even people with dementia, the packets are a danger.
The American Association of Poison Control Centers said it received 10,570 reports of exposures to highly concentrated packets of laundry detergent by children 5 or younger. “Exposures” includes contact with the substance beyond ingestion or breathing it in.
The group said children who get the products in their mouths can have “excessive vomiting, wheezing and gasping. Some get very sleepy. Some have had breathing problems serious enough to need a ventilator to help them breathe. There have also been reports of corneal abrasions (scratches to the eyes) when the detergent gets into a child’s eye.”
Tide released the following statement on their pods:
“Our laundry pacs are a highly concentrated detergent meant to clean clothes, and they’re used safely in millions of households every day. They should be only used to clean clothes and kept up, closed and away from children.
“We have seen no indication of an increase of cases seeking medical treatment amongst infants and teenagers associated with the recent uptick in social media conversation or in consumer calls.”
The company also has some safety tips:
- Keep the products out of reach of children and completely close the container when done with use.
- Handle the pods with dry hands to prevent them from dissolving before they’re in the washer. Clean your hands after using them, as well.
- If the product is ingested, drink water or milk and call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 or a doctor. Do not induce vomiting.