Laundry detergent liquid capsules safety

24 Mar 2015

Laundry capsules (also known as laundry pods) can be dangerous for your child if left within his or her reach. See this alert for tips on storing and handling these products safely.


With their bright colours and small size, laundry pods can be attractive to children as they often look similar to confectionary products. If a child gains access to a laundry detergent capsule, it can lead to ingestion or eye and skin exposure causing serious injuries.

Nationally, there have been more than 280 incidents reported of children aged six or under ingesting or being exposed to liquid laundry detergent capsules since 2011.

Australian ingestion cases in children aged six or under

2011 (from April)




2015 (to February)






More than 16,000 cases are reported annually worldwide of children being exposed to laundry pods, with two deaths being reported in the United States.

Injuries can include:

  • in case of ingestion: severe vomiting, coughing, respiratory disorders, nausea, drowsiness and rash
  • in case of contact with the eyes: conjunctivitis, pain in the eye, eye irritation
  • in case of contact with the skin: rash, skin irritation, chemical burn.

A laundry detergent capsule can burst in a child’s hand with only a small amount of pressure.  It can also rapidly dissolve with moisture and may burst in a child’s mouth in as little as ten seconds, causing severe injuries.

What you can do

Safe storage

  • Store laundry capsules up high, out of reach and out of sight of children.
  • If stored in lower accessible cabinets/cupboards, these should be secured with child resistant locks.
  • Keep capsules/packets in their original container, fully closed between uses.

Safe use

  • Carefully read the labels on the packaging.
  • Do not use the capsules/packets while children are close by and do not allow or invite children to manipulate them.
  • Never pierce or break laundry capsules/packets.
  • Do not leave the capsules/packets outside their container.
  • Close the container lid properly after every use.

What to do in case of exposure

In case of a child's accidental exposure:

  • If the capsule/packet is put in the mouth, rinse the child's mouth and face thoroughly.
  • Do not induce vomiting.
  • If a child has capsule liquid close to eyes or on hands, rinse carefully with plenty of water.
  • Call a doctor, or a Poison Control Centre, or go to the medical emergency department.

Global campaign

In March 2015, the ACCC joined international regulators to raise awareness of the hazards laundry capsules can pose to young children. Visit the European Commission's Global Awareness-raising Campaign on Laundry detergent capsules/packets website for more information.

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