Thinking of doing the Tide Pod Challenge? Don’t.
What's the harm in the Tide pod challenge? A lot, it turns out.
Humanity has made amazing advancements. We’re peering further and further into the universe, creating machines that can surpass our own abilities, and finding remedies for deadly diseases. You’d think that at this point in human history, we’d know enough not to pop detergent into our mouths. However, we still have people who think it’s a good idea not only to consume colorful laundry pods, but to film it and show other people as well.
Laundry pods are small packets of concentrated detergent. The warning on the packaging is about keeping the pods away from young children who may accidentally ingest them; manufacturers must not have thought about teenagers and adults who may ingest the pods on purpose. Manufacturers have put effort into ensuring that the pods won’t be ingested by children, but perhaps they should also consider including grown people in that warning.
Laundry pods do look like candy, but they're far more harmful. [Photo by CR/John Powers and Ariana Salvato/Apotrophe/Courtesy of Consumer Reports]
The proper way to use laundry pods is to place them in washing machines along with laundry loads. The pods then dissolve as the washing goes on. Tide pods and other laundry pods are also quite colorful, perhaps alluringly or appetizingly so for some.
Lately, there’s been something called the “Tide Pod Challenge”, in which people, many of them teenagers, deliberately chow down on laundry pods. Participants then upload videos or photos of themselves doing the challenge to social media sites like Facebook and YouTube. The challenge participant places a laundry pod in their mouth, and the pod dissolves within moments. After this, the participant begins to choke, cough, or vomit.
Some may say that the Tide pod challenge is all just in good fun. Maybe it is fun for some, but it’s definitely not good. Detergent is made of synthetic chemicals, the most important of which are surfactants. Surfactants are long chain molecules with a hydrophilic head and a hydrophobic tail that can strip away grease. Our digestive system is full of fats, and having these fats stripped away can be harmful. According to this report, the presence of detergent in the digestive system can result in vomiting, abdominal pain, flatulence and diarrhea.
Laundry pods can hit your digestive system hard, and worse.
The laundry pods also have bleach, which people generally know not to ingest. It’s responsible for removing stains and whitening clothes, and is thus another important component in detergent. The bleach in laundry pods can burn your digestive tract, cause esophageal perforation, and may even induce a coma. There have also been deaths caused by the ingestion of laundry pods.
It’s understandable when little kids put things in their mouths that they’re not supposed to. After all, they’re still exploring the world (and those brightly colored laundry pods do look a lot like candy). However, older children, teenager, and adults don’t have the excuse of ignorance. Burning your internal organs for a trend that’s bound to soon become lame anyway just doesn’t seem to be worth it.
If you happened to ingest detergent, accidentally or not, immediately get in contact with your area’s poison control, or immediately seek medical advice.
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