CBS News

Teens are eating laundry pods in a new social media challenge

It’s a social media trend that could quickly turn deadly. Teens are putting laundry pods into their mouths as part of the “Tide Pod Challenge,” and if the contents are ingested, the results could land your child or teen in the hospital.

The “Tide Pod Challenge” involves teens eating laundry detergent pods raw or, in some cases, cooking them before eating them.

Consumer Reports released information showing just how deadly doing this can be for adults with dementia and children younger than five. But that doesn’t mean teens are safe.

USA Today reported that last year, poison control centers received more than 10,000 reports of children five years old or younger ingesting the pods.

Dr. Alfred Aleguas Jr., the managing director for Florida’s Poison Information Center, told USA Today that swallowing “even a small amount of the highly-concentrated detergent…can cause diarrhea and vomiting.” In some cases, the detergent could even migrate to the lungs, causing breathing problems.

Tide has been proactive in keeping their products safe, childproof, and keeping the public informed.

In a video uploaded to their official YouTube channel, Tide shows just how easy it can be to keep the pods away from your children.

If you have young children, the American Association of Poison Control Centers has a few suggestions on how to keep the packets out of their little hands:

  • Always keep detergent containers closed, sealed and stored up high, out of the reach of children
  • Follow the instructions on the product label
  • Call your local poison center at 1-800-222-1222 immediately if you suspect a child has come in contact with this detergent

If you have teens, be sure to explain to them the consequences of ingesting the pods. If your teen eats the pods, they might not always have extreme symptoms right away. That means that the health risks won’t be apparent “until it happens.”

Aleguas said he’s seen cases where teens aren’t aware of some underlying medical condition they have, which is then exacerbated by eating the pods.

“Ending up in the emergency room is no joke,” he told USA Today.

In light of the new social media trend, Tide has also released a statement, saying:

Nothing is more important to us than the safety of the people who use our products. Our laundry pacs are a highly concentrated detergent meant to clean clothes and they’re used safely in millions of households every day.

They should be only used to clean clothes and kept up, closed and away from children. They should not be played with, whatever the circumstance is, even if meant as a joke.

We have been consistently proactive in providing consumers with the right usage guidance and tools to enable them to use the product safely. Here is a recent video as an example.

My Child Ate One. Now What?

Tide has tips on proper pod safety, including:


If a someone ingests the pods, contact the National Poison Help Hotline (1-800-222-1222). You can also text “POISON” to 797979 to save the number in your phone.

Here are a few quick tips, provided by Tide:

  • Unintended exposure to or skin contact with laundry products usually causes no serious medical effects
  • If exposure to the skin or clothing occurs, remove contaminated clothing and rinse the skin well with water
  • If a product gets in the eye(s), then rinse immediately with plenty of water for 15 minutes and seek medical advice as needed
  • If a product is swallowed, drink a glass of water or milk and contact the Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) or doctor immediately. DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING.

Following these laundry safety steps will help keep your home as safe as possible. Know what to do before unintended exposure happens. Read the product safety information provided on the package.

Author: WGCL-TV (CBS Atlanta)