Questions and Answers

Q1. What is the issue?

A1. – Over the past years, several accidents have happened when young children managed to get hold of liquid laundry detergent capsules. A few of these accidents were severe, some children even had to spend time in hospital to recover. Liquid laundry detergent capsules are safe when used and stored in accordance with the instructions. However, if children get access to a capsule, accidents may happen as they can be exposed to the content. This is especially a concern with toddlers who tend to put almost everything into their mouth. This is why liquid laundry detergent capsules always have to be stored out of reach of children, before and after use.

Q2. What are the possible effects of accidental ingestion of the product?

A2. – When accidentally ingested, the laundry detergent liquid will likely induce a vomiting reaction (what physicians call “a strong emetic effect”). Depending on how much is ingested this may result in multiple episodes of heavy vomiting, sometimes lasting for several hours. Complications might occur if during those episodes the child accidentally inhales while vomiting, this might require treatment in hospital. In case of ingestion call the poison control centre or seek medical advice. If a child has ingested some detergent and is not vomiting, do not force this.

Q3. What are the possible effects of accidental eye or skin exposure of the product?

A3. – Eye exposure may cause severe irritation.  This can be extremely painful when it happens. Hence it is very important to rinse out the eyes cautiously with water, for several minutes, to remove the detergent fully. In reported incidents up to now, no long-term eye damage has been observed following eye exposure to liquid laundry detergent capsules.  Skin exposure can lead to skin irritation, especially when the detergent remains in contact with the skin for a longer time. Also in these cases, thorough rinsing of the skin is required. And call the poison control centre or seek medical advice.

Q4. Why do capsules cause such health effects?

A4. – The detergent liquid inside the laundry capsules is highly concentrated, because a single capsule contains the full amount of detergent ingredients required for one wash load. When a capsule is bitten by a child, the water-soluble film that contains the detergent may rupture and release its content. Because of the high concentration, this can lead to strong reactions such as severe vomiting or irritation.

Q5. What should you do if capsules are stuck together?

Always use liquid detergent capsules with dry hands to avoid introducing moisture in the packaging as this could make them stick together. Liquid laundry detergent capsules are made of a biodegradable 100% water soluble film, which rapidly dissolves in the washing cycle. This means that moisture and humid conditions experienced outside the wash are not desired. Such conditions could even lead to capsules sticking together or dissolving outside of the machine. 

As a consequence:

• Always use capsules with dry hands
• Close the packaging and store it in a proper place
• Do not store in wet/humid environments. 

In case capsules are stuck together:

• Do not tear apart stuck capsules as there could be a risk of spillage in your eyes or mouth;
• Do not pierce, break or cut capsules;
• If capsules are stuck together, you may use up to two stuck capsules in the machine, or contact the manufacturer.

Q6. What does the detergents industry do to prevent such accidents?

A5. – Manufacturers of liquid laundry detergent capsules take the safety of their consumers very seriously. In addition to product and packaging modifications, they provide guidance on all their packs via a yellow patch and through proactive communication campaigns such as the pan-European A.I.S.E. “Keep Caps From Kids” initiative, including this multi-lingual website.

Being committed to consumer safety, the European detergents industry continuously puts important measures in place to guard against incidents. At the same time, the industry points out that, like any other detergent, liquid laundry detergent capsules need to be stored in a safe place before and after use as they must always be kept out of the reach of children. Ongoing consumer education is essential in order to further enhance a safe use of liquid laundry detergent capsules.

The A.I.S.E. “Keep Caps From Kids” initiative is supported by the European Child Safety Alliance and more than 20 partners in Europe including ministries, poison control centres and safety associations.