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The Tide Pod Challenge – A Warning for Parents

Posted on January 26, 2018
by Marianne C. LeBlanc

Marianne C. LeBlanc

News outlets across the country are reporting that people, particularly teenagers, are at risk for poisoning themselves while taking the “Tide Pod Challenge,” in which a laundry detergent pod is deliberately bitten.  Many teenagers have posted videos of themselves doing just this.  As one might expect, they have an extreme reaction when concentrated liquid soap bursts from the pod into their mouths.  It’s hard to believe that anyone would actually do this, but a quick internet search reveals that there are plenty of people who have.

Ever since detergent manufacturers such as Tide, Arm & Hammer, and Cascade began selling these small, brightly colored, single-use pods, consumer groups and news outlets have raised concerns that children may mistake them for candy. In response, some of these companies have changed their packaging, making it more difficult for small children to see inside, and making the container lids child-proof. Nevertheless, thousands of children under the age of five are rushed to the emergency department each year when they ingest detergent pods. At least one death has been reported.

Evidently, some teenagers find the allure of getting attention on social media is worth the risk of biting into a Tide Pod, but it’s likely they don’t know the potential consequences. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ingesting soap from a detergent pod can cause a host of health problems, including nausea, vomiting, coughing, choking, and drowsiness.

Daily Mail Online interviewed Henry Spiller, the director of the Central Ohio Poison Center, who described the burns the concentrated soap in Tide Pods can cause. His advice: “Just don’t do it.”

Tide Pods packages do include a warning label: 

“Concentrated detergent pacs can burst if children put them in mouth or play with them. The liquid inside is harmful if put in mouth, swallowed, or in eyes. KEEP PACS OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN.”

Tide has even enlisted Rob Gronkowski to get the warning out: Fortunately, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram have decided to remove “Tide Pod Challenge” videos from their sites. Hopefully the lack of exposure will deter this risky behavior.