The ‘Tide Pod Challenge’ Exists, Please Make Sure Your Teens Aren’t This Stupid

by Thea Glassman
Originally Published: 
Image via Ssuaphoto/Getty

“Tide Pod Challenge” is all kinds of WTF and dangerous

There have been a lot of stupid, dangerous internet trends over the years. The “Tide Pod Challenge” probably takes the cake as the stupidest and most dangerous of them all. No, really — please find me a worse idea than people literally eating laundry detergent.

In case you’ve had the good fortune of missing out on this new phenomenon, the “Tide Pod Challenge” involves teens filming themselves with tide pods in their mouth and then posting the videos online.

“This started out as a joke on the internet and now it’s just gone too far,”Ann Marie Buerkle, acting chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, said in a statement.

The small, brightly colored pods are packed with a mix of hydrogen peroxide, ethanol, and polymers — great for washing away stains, but lethal for human consumption. Even swallowing a small amount of the detergent could lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and a swift trip to the emergency room.

A study published in 2014 found that 17,230 children suffered from a skin or eye injury as a result of improper exposure to laundry pods. 30 of those children went into a coma and 12 had seizures.

“The severity of these exposures varies,” the study’s co-author Dr. Gary Smith told The Today Show. “Sometimes the chemicals get into the eyes, sometimes they are swallowed. And if they are swallowed, they can cause severe burns to the esophagus and the stomach.”

He added that laundry pods are the most dangerous of detergents to be exposed to. “For decades if a child came [to the hospital] with a laundry detergent exposure it was usually no big deal,” Smith said. “But these are different. They have strong concentrated chemicals in them. And that’s why it’s so important for parents to understand the dangers associated with their use.”

According to Buerkle, manufacturers have tried to make sure that the packaging is less appealing to kids — and teenagers — by creating pods that are “opaque, less attractive, less colorful, reducing the toxicity and the strength of laundry detergent.”

Here’s hoping that the next big internet trend comes around very quickly, and involves something that’s not at all stupid and dangerous. One can dream, right?

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