Laundry detergents, last time I checked, are for one purpose: to clean washable items. In an effort to be consumer-conscious, the manufacturers also include information on the packaging that states whether they contain fragrances or added ingredients so consumers can make choices that are right for themselves. And last time I checked my washable clothing—yesterday, actually– items had labels that stated the materials they contained and relevant instructions for washing and drying them.
But nowhere on the labels on clothing or the directions on the detergents is anything that suggests that the packaging or the product should be attractive to kids. After all, who is purchasing and using the product, and for what purpose?
More than likely, households that purchase the pod-style detergents are not considering price more than convenience. For a while, I switched to laundry detergent in pods. It seemed so much easier just to throw a pod or two in the laundry basket when going down to the laundry room in my condo development than to lug a container of liquid detergent with me or store it there.
But some are almost twice as expensive as the store-brand liquid laundry detergents for the same number of wash loads. A reasonable guess: Households that purchase convenience also have plenty of safe toys available at home for small kids, and brightly colored detergent pods don’t have to double as distractions.
Accurate information about public health matters is available. The numbers show that laundry pod ingestion is going up, not down. Why should this happen?
One important variable: Decorative pods of laundry detergent sometimes smell very much like bubble gum. The size of individual candies and visually cute, they come in a small bag that looks like it would hold a treat from the store. Kids don’t have the developmental capacity to make decisions about them.
Another factor: What’s a mom or dad to do? When there are kids in the house or visiting there, adults wouldn’t think of leaving poisonous substances like household cleaners under the sink. It isn’t much of a stretch to consider detergents in the same category and store them in the same careful way. And playgroup parents, child care patrons, and friends visiting for the afternoon should ask where toxic substances are stored.
Perhaps in an effort to make laundry into “fun,” manufacturers have also misjudged kids and their parents. Appealing more to the person who pays at the checkout counter is more important than appealing to the little grocery cart passenger.