A new study reveals a 32-fold increase in ocular chemical burns (chemical burns to the eyes) related to laundry detergent pods since 2012. Laundry detergent pods are small, single-use packets of laundry detergent. They often appear brightly colored, and many children confuse them with candy or toys.

When children play with the pods, they may squeeze them, causing the liquid to squirt into their eyes, causing chemical burns. In other cases, the contents of the pods may leak onto children’s hands, who may later touch their eyes, exposing their eyes to the harmful chemicals.

The study published in JAMA Ophthalmology found that the number of cases presenting to emergency departments for chemical burns to the eyes in preschool-aged children caused by laundry detergent pods jumped from 12 in 2012 to 480 in 2015. Laundry detergent pods were related to just 0.8% of ocular chemical burns in 2012 and 26% in 2015. The researchers found no such incidents in 2010 or 2011.


Male Female Total


0 0 0
2011 0 0



12 0 12
2013 235 27



170 277


2015 236 244


The researchers also found that majority of cases involved three-year-old children as opposed to four-year-old children (912 vs. 289). The vast majority of these injuries occurred in the home.

Laundry detergent pods may also cause choking or poisoning if children ingest the pods, often after mistaking them for candy.

Avoiding Injuries Related to Laundry Detergent Pods

The researchers recommend that parents store these pods in an area inaccessible to children, such as on a high shelf or in a locked cabinet. Parents may also warn their children of the pods’ danger once they are old enough to understand.

The study authors also had recommendations for manufacturers of laundry detergent pods to prevent future injuries:

“In addition to proper storage and use of these devices, prevention strategies might include redesigning packaging to reduce the attractiveness of these product s to young children and improving their strength and durability.”

First-Aid for Ocular Chemical Burns

In the event your child suffers a chemical burn of the eyes, begin to rinse the eyes immediately and remove any contact lenses. Call 9-1-1 for emergency assistance. Do not stop rinsing the eyes. Once emergency responders arrive, they will continue flushing the eyes.

Upon arrival at the hospital, medical professionals may continue to rinse the eyes and may apply local anesthetic drops to relieve the pain.

Is another party responsible for your child’s ocular chemical burns?

If you believe another party is responsible for your child’s injuries, call our lawyer referral specialists at 844-549-8774 for help finding a lawyer who can answer your questions and provide legal counsel. You may also visit our Legal FAQs page for more information.