Single-use detergent capsules undergoing a second facelift

Shoppers have been flocking to the laundry aisle to buy single-use detergent capsules, like Tide Pods. Fans of the “pods” say they are easier to use, produce less waste and have less potential for mess than the large jugs of liquid.

But there’s one major drawback: They look yummy to kids. Wrapped in clear plastic and filled with multi-colored liquid, some children think the pods are candy and chomp down on them. Last year alone, poison centers nationwide received more than 6,000 calls about children ingesting detergent pods, causing symptoms ranging from vomiting to diarrhea.

In response, Procter & Gamble, the maker of Tide Pods, changed the packaging to include a double-latch lid that is harder for little hands to open. Still, thousands more cases were reported. This month, Procter & Gamble announced yet another change. The company is doing away with the clear plastic container the pods have been sold in, which could look like a candy jar to a child.

During a recent trip to my grocery store, I headed to the laundry aisle. I’m a longtime Tide user but hadn’t tried the pods. It was hard to miss them because a large “safety alert” sign was hanging in the middle of the Tide Pods shelves. It warned users to keep them out of reach of children, among other things.

I bought some pods to see what all the buzz is about — and I made sure my ever-curious 6-year-old understood they are not candy.

–Stephanie Doyle