Liquid laundry packets are potential hazards for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, Consumer Reports said Thursday.
The packets, long regarded as a danger to young children, can pose a lethal threat to adults with dementia who mistake them for something edible, the consumer organization said.
Consumer Reports said an investigation found that in one case an 87-year-old Texas woman with dementia ate two of the laundry packets. She was found slumped over and was rushed to the hospital, but she died two days later, it said.
The packets dissolve in the wash and release highly concentrated liquid detergent.
In 2015, Consumer Reports said it urged manufacturers to make the packets safer and advised against keeping them in homes with young children. Now the organization said caregivers of adults with dementia should be careful about having them in the home.
Six adult deaths have been related to people ingesting the laundry pods in the U.S. between 2012 and early 2017.
Dr. Loren Alving, director of the UCSF-Fresno Alzheimer’s and Memory Center, said she has not heard of any dementia patients accidentally eating liquid detergent packets. But some people with dementia don’t know what they are putting into their mouths, and the laundry packets are relatively new objects that could be mistaken for candy, she said.
She agreed that caregivers of someone with dementia should take the same precautions as they would for children.
Through a Freedom of Information Act request with the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission, Consumer Reports said it learned there had been a total of six adult deaths related to people ingesting the laundry pods in the U.S. between 2012 and early 2017. And two children died during that time.
James Dickerson, chief scientific officer at Consumer Reports, said the organization continues “to believe that manufacturers should modify the appearance of laundry packs, so they do not look like candy.”
The American Cleaning Institute, a trade group that includes detergent manufacturers, said in a written statement that manufacturers of liquid laundry detergent packets are committed to reducing accidental access to the products, which are used safely by millions of consumers every day.
The Consumer Reports information is a good reminder to keep liquid laundry packets – and all household cleaning products – out of sight and reach of young children, as well as locked away from adults with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, the institute said. And family members can visit the Caregivers Action Network for safety tips on the ACI website, it said.
Consumer Reports said it will continue to monitor the number of incidents involving laundry packets.