Global Awareness-raising Campaign on Laundry Detergent Capsules/packets


The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) Global Awareness-raising Campaign on Laundry Detergent Capsules (16 to 23 March 2015) aims to inform of the risks posed by a product that is present in growing number of households worldwide: laundry detergent capsules (or packets). These products can be attractive to children and can pose serious dangers if not handled and stored safely.

Over 16000[1] cases of people (mostly children) exposes to chemicals contained in the laundry capsules/packets on a yearly basis globally.
Laundry detergent liquid capsules/packets are designed to contain concentrated detergent for single use. The content of the capsules, protected by a membrane, is released once it comes in contact with the moisture during a washing.
Yet, laundry detergent liquid capsules/packets are small, tactile and often colourful, which makes them attractive to children, especially toddlers, who are tempted to put them in the mouth or play with them. A laundry liquid capsule can burst in a child’s hand, especially when it is wet or moist. It can also rapidly dissolve with moisture and may burst in a child’s mouth in as little as ten seconds, which can cause severe injuries.
The main symptoms and consequences of exposure can be:
  • In case of ingestion: severe vomiting, coughing, respiratory disorders, nausea, drowsiness and rash.
  • In case of contact with the eyes: conjunctivitis, pain in the eye, eye irritation.
  • In case of contact with the skin: rash, skin irritation, chemical burn.
  • Store these products up high, out of reach and out of sight of children;
  • If stored in lower accessible cabinets/cupboards, these should be secured with child resistant locks;
  • Keep the capsules/packets in their original container, fully closed between uses.
  • Carefully read the labels on the packaging;
  • Do not use the capsules/packets while children are close by and do not allow or invite children to manipulate them;
  • Never pierce or break laundry capsules/packets;
  • Do not leave the capsules/packets outside their container;
  • Close the container lid properly after every use.
  • In case of a child’s accidental exposure:
  •  If the capsule/packet is put in the mouth, rinse the child’s mouth and face thoroughly;
  • Do not induce vomiting;
  •  If a child has capsule liquid close to eyes or on hands, rinse carefully with plenty of water;
  • Call a doctor, or a Poison Control Centre or go to the medical emergency department.

More information in campaign webpage

[1] Aggregated number of exposures to chemicals contained in laundry detergent capsules registered in the most recent year of data available (2012 or 2013 or 2014) in the following countries: USA, Japan, Germany, Czech Republic, The Netherlands, Italy, France, Spain, Estonia, Latvia, Hungary, Portugal South Korea, Belgium, Ireland and Australia.