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Mom and baby in the laundry room

Keep Your Laundry Room Safe

By Dr. Michele Wadsworth, Premier Pediatrics

Sure, most parents would like to avoid the laundry room, but not children.

From a child’s perspective, it looks like a great place to explore: Those colorful detergent pods that look like candy. Washers and dryers with cute little doors. Spray bottles with squeezable handles.

Parents need to be aware the laundry room is chock-full of dangers. Consider that in 2017, poison control centers recorded 12,300 incidents related to those colorful laundry pods. Eighty percent of those cases involved children age 5 or younger biting into them.

Here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics to keep your laundry room safe for children.

Don’t Let Tiny Hands Reach for Detergent Pods:

  • Detergent in single-use laundry pods is very concentrated and toxic. Even a small amount can cause serious breathing or stomach problems, eye irritation, and even death. Children can easily mistake them for candy because they are brightly colored and mouth-sized.
  • Biting a packet can cause it to burst, shooting detergent into a child’s mouth, throat, or eyes.
  • Children shouldn’t be allowed to handle or play with them. The pods dissolve quickly and pose a danger once they come in contact with water, wet hands, or saliva.
  • Don’t remove a packet from the original container until you’re ready to put it in the washing machine. A child could grab one if they’re placed on top of a laundry basket, the washer or dryer, or on a counter.
  • Consider using traditional liquid or powder detergent instead of pods until children living or visiting your home are at least 6 years old.
  • If children get detergent in their mouths or eyes, call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 immediately.
  • Keep the packets in a sealed container in a locked cabinet or on a high shelf – out of sight and out of reach of children.

Store Other Laundry Products Safely, Too

  • Laundry products should be kept tightly closed in their original labeled containers.
  • Know where the safety information is located on the label and what to do in case of an injury or exposure.
  • Never combine laundry detergent with ammonia or other household cleaners. Some chemical mixtures may release irritating or dangerous fumes. Don’t reuse empty containers. Throw them away and make sure they are disposed of properly.
  • Keep products out of sight and reach of children and pets. A high locked cabinet works well. Don’t store products on top of the washer or dryer or in storage drawers under laundry machines.
  • Clean up spills immediately. Wash your hands and items you use to pour or measure products.
  • Close and lock the laundry room door when you are finished, so children can’t get in.
  • Spray bottles are a common source of accidental poisoning and should be kept out of reach of children.

Washers and Dryers Aren’t for Play

  • Use child locks on front-loading washers and dryers so children won’t open the door and try to crawl in the machines. Teach your children they are not play areas.
  • Don’t allow children to play around or hang on the doors of washers or dryers as they can tip over.
  • Clean the lint trap after each use to prevent fires.
  • Vent the dryer outside the home to prevent mold and mildew.

Your pediatrician is a wealth of knowledge about the best ways to keep your child safe at home, in the car, and at school. Make sure to ask about age-appropriate safety recommendations at your next well visit.

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About CHKD Medical Group

About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.