The Consumer Product Safety Commission has reported that in the past five years,  eight deaths were related to accidentally ingesting the liquid detergent pods. Of those eight deaths, six were suffered by adults with dementia and two by children. This information was made public only after Consumer Reports filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the CPSC. Five of the related dementia deaths occurred in the US and one in Canada.

The liquid detergent pods are bright, soft, spongy little packets that appear very similar to candy and playthings and thereby attract both children and adults with dementia. Exposure to water, wet hands and even saliva can dissolve the pods and release the very concentrated and potentially toxic liquids. Laundry pods debuted as a product in 2012, and shortly thereafter, CR began to request that manufacturers make the packets safer. CR’s stance on the issue was to advise that the pods should not be present in households where children under the age of 6 might have access to them. Although some changes to both the product and the packaging have been made over the intervening years, the pods continue to present a very serious health risk.

James Dickerson, Ph.D., chief scientific officer at Consumer Reports, states “As a result of this new data from the CPSC highlighting the potential risks of laundry detergent pods to adults with dementia, we are amending our advice and recommending that family members caring for anyone who is cognitively impaired not keep pods in the home.” Dickerson goes on to state, “We also continue to believe that manufacturers should modify the appearance of laundry packets, so they do not look like candy.”

Please note that the information published in recent articles about the detergent pods all seems to reference laundry detergent pods, but we believe that the information does apply across the board to also include other types of detergent pods, such as dishwasher detergent pods.