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- 06/15/2016

Making laundry packets safer around kids

H&PC Today

Kids are curious and can get into a lot of things in the home. Household cleaners are no exception, and liquid laundry packets in particular have been in the spotlight due to the number of calls to Poison Control Centers.


A new study led by Nationwide Children’s Hospital published in the journal Pediatrics highlighted reports of children’s accidental exposures to packets in 2013-2014.


The encouraging news is that through 2015, there has been a 21 percent decrease in the rate of accidental exposures involving young children since 2012, according to a recent presentation from the Rocky Mountain Poison & Drug Center.


In 2015, detergent manufacturers, alongside the Consumer Product Safety Commission, consumer advocates, organizations representing the medical community, and other stakeholders developed a new safety standard for liquid laundry packets through ASTM International.


The ASTM process is a well-respected, internationally-recognized forum that uses research and science to develop quality and safety measures. The new standard was published in December 2015 and will need time to be properly evaluated. Yet makers of liquid laundry packets are implementing or have already implemented changes to meet this standard. These include:


·      Making packaging opaque, so kids cannot see the packets, and ensuring the closures are harder for kids to open

·      Adding a bitter taste on the outside of the packets’ film

·      Designing packets to withstand the squeezing pressure of a child

·      Standardizing prominent warning labels along with clear direction to Poison Control Centers if accidental exposure occurs


Beyond this, laundry packet makers and their trade group, American Cleaning Institute (ACI), are reaching out to parents and caregivers about the importance of keeping laundry detergents and any other household cleaners away from children.


Many people are not storing liquid laundry packets properly. According to 2015 research conducted for American Cleaning Institute, 61 percent of parents store the packets in-sight or in-reach of children.

While laundry packets are still a relatively new form in the marketplace, they are growing in popularity. Millions of people, especially college students, busy families, and seniors love the convenience of laundry packets. Today, over 20% of US households use them. But with this comes the need to store packets properly.


The cleaning industry shares a responsibility with parents to keep kids safe from accidents with cleaning products. Detergent manufacturers are participating in a series of roundtables with consumer advocates and physician and safety groups to evaluate the newly implemented standard, share information and explore new practices and innovations that could further reduce the rate of accidents

The standards being implemented now, along with continued outreach to parents and caregivers about safe use and storage, represent important steps forward to keeping children safe.

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