What is the laundry pod challenge taking over the internet?

Dangerous online fad dares teenagers to ingest laundry detergent pods

Laundry pod

YouTube is leading a crackdown on the so-called Laundry Pod Challenge after US poison centres reported a spate of incidents involving teenagers ingesting laundry detergent.

In the past, warnings about misuse of laundry pods have been directed at those caring for toddlers, who have been known to mistake the brightly-coloured packets for sweets.

However, those warnings are now also being directed at teenagers and their parents over a viral social media fad in which young people film themselves biting into a laundry pod and often encourage others to do the same.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.

SUBSCRIBE & SAVE
https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/flexiimages/jacafc5zvs1692883516.jpg

Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Jokes about the temptation to bite into the colourful pods have existed for years on social media, says Snopes. For most, the jokes were nothing more than an example of the internet’s quirky sense of humour - but “the actual practice of biting into Tide pods appears to have intensified” over the New Year.

Often called the Tide Pod Challenge in the US, in reference to a brand of laundry detergent, videos of the Laundry Pod Challenge have racked up hundreds of thousands of views.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers has said that it had dealt with 39 calls in the first fortnight of 2018 regarding teenagers who had willingly ingested laundry pods, compared to 53 cases in the whole of 2017.

The association’s executive director, Stephen Kaminski said that ingesting laundry detergent “poses a real threat to the health of individuals” and blamed the recent spate of incidents on the Laundry Pod Challenge.

“We have seen a large spike in single-load laundry packet exposures among teenagers since these videos have been uploaded,” he said.

Google, whose parent company also owns YouTube, has announced that videos of the Laundry Pod Challenge videos will be deleted from the platform.

Consuming even small amounts of laundry detergent can be hazardous to health, says CNN. Exposure to the concentrated cleaning chemicals can cause second and third-degree burns to the nose, mouth and throat, as well as “difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness... seizures, fluid in the lungs, respiratory arrest, coma or death”.

To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us