The use of laundry pods is rampant in this country and in various other areas of the world. It’s easy to see why — they’re super convenient. Instead of lugging around a heavy detergent bottle and measuring out the liquid (which often spills on your hands), you simply pop a pod into the washer. The marketing and design of these pods are highly effective.
However, there is an ugly side to those convenient, brightly colored pods. They can be very dangerous, especially if you have young children or pets in your home. The following are five reasons to ditch the pods and never look back.
1. They are highly concentrated
At first glance, this sounds like a good thing, right? A higher concentration of detergent means more cleaning power, does it not? The bad news is, the concentration of the chemicals inside the pod amplify their potential to cause harm. According to Eric J. Moorhead of the consulting firm Good Chemistry LLC:
“Each pod consists of a detergent mixture wrapped in a water-soluble film, made up of a proprietary polyvinyl alcohol polymer. The liquid detergent in the pods is not the same as regular liquid detergent. It has a higher concentration of surfactants, chemicals that are responsible for stain removal. At high concentrations, these ordinarily safe ingredients can cause irritation, especially in sensitive areas like the eyes.”
So, if a pod breaks open and you happen to splash some on yourself, you will likely be in for a doctor’s visit or even a trip to the emergency room. This brings me to my next point…
2. They are especially dangerous for children
Research has shown that young children can suffer greatly if laundry pods are used in the home. The authors of a new study published in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology wrote:
“The widespread adoption of laundry detergent pods, which are dissolvable pouches containing enough laundry detergent for a single use, has led to an increase in associated injuries among children. Reports of pod-related injuries, including poisoning, choking and burns, have suggested that this pattern may be in part due to the products’ colorful packaging and candy-like appearance.”
Because of their attractive nature and small size, children can be naturally attracted to laundry pods. Even if you keep them up in a cabinet, as parents know, many children are climbers. The aforementioned JAMA study found that one prevalent danger of children getting their hands on laundry pods is damage to the eyes. Dr. R. Sterling Haring, the leader of the study, calls the chemicals inside laundry pods “among the worst chemicals that the eye can be exposed to.”
More issues for children
Dr. Haring also mentions that because of the alkaline nature of the chemicals, they can burn faster than acidic chemicals and be more damaging to eye tissue. Dr. Haring says that if the detergent inside laundry pods comes in contact with the cornea, “there’s a high risk of long-term vision impairment.”
That’s not all. In 2015, the non-profit organization Consumer Reports decided to drop laundry pods from its list of recommended detergents. Reasons cited included links to vomiting, coughing and breathing difficulties in children exposed to laundry pods. A report by USA Today also mentioned that seizures and comas have been reported in rare exposure cases. Two children’s deaths were also linked to laundry pods.
3. They may be harmful to pets
It’s common sense to extrapolate that if children are attracted to the size, shape and colorful nature of laundry pods, then pets may be as well. A curious dog or cat could get into the place where laundry pods are stored (or find one left on the floor by mistake), and serious injuries, or even death, could occur.
4. Detergents may contain hazardous ingredients
Unlike food ingredients, not all ingredients used in a detergent or cleaning solution need to be displayed on the label. There are exceptions, such as products that receive a “green” label. However, most conventional detergents could contain virtually any additive. These detergents are often made from harsh chemicals, which could be toxic or irritating, especially to sensitive individuals. Since we know that laundry pods are highly concentrated, that means more chemicals per square inch. Do you really want to take the risk?
5. The “fresh scent” may irritate your eyes and airways
Artificial fragrances and perfumes are commonly added to laundry pods. These perfumes contain a slew of chemicals, some of which may not be thoroughly tested for safety. There have been carcinogenic and hormone-disrupting ingredients found in perfumes. Even the chemicals that don’t fall into these categories may cause allergic reactions, such as skin rash or breathing trouble, in sensitive individuals.
Natural laundry alternatives
So, you’ve decided to ditch the laundry pods… hooray! Conventional laundry detergent is better, but still not the most human-friendly option. So, what now?
- If you’re buying, choose green, “free and clear” detergents. These require ingredients to be labeled and do not contain artificial perfumes.
- Make your own! Check out these great recipes for simple, homemade laundry detergent.
- Try soap berries (also called soap nuts). They’re completely natural.
– Tanya Mead