With two deaths and over 16,000 ingestion cases reported every year worldwide the ACCC, in partnership with international regulators, is urging parents to be careful when using and storing laundry products so they don’t accidentally harm children.
Liquid laundry detergent capsules or ‘laundry pods’ contain highly concentrated liquid detergent in water-soluble packaging that releases on contact with moisture. A child can burst the laundry capsule and release the entire contents onto the skin or mouth with only a small amount of saliva or pressure.
Over 280 incidents have been reported in Australia of children aged six or younger since 2011, with 85 incidents last year. Injuries include severe irritation or chemical burns to the skin, eyes or gastro intestinal tract, eye damage, severe distress, coughing and vomiting, internal bleeding, respiratory difficulty, lethargy or drowsiness.
ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said, “Laundry capsules are small and often colourful, making them attractive to young children. Yet the damage they can cause may be shocking”.
“The product has only been widely available in the market recently and its risks are not necessarily well known. This is why regulators worldwide have identified it as a priority emerging issue and joined together to share information to help parents protect their young children,” Ms Rickard said.
The ACCC has been working with industry since 2012 on this safety issue and has jointly established an industry guideline for labelling and packaging of laundry pods.
As part of the international campaign this week, the ACCC is collaborating with international safety organisations in raising awareness of laundry pod safety, including developing a consistent set of safety information for parents and carers worldwide.
- Store these products 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.
- 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.
Consumers are encouraged to participate and share key information and safety messages via social media using the hashtag #laundrysafe.
Media team - 1300 138 917