Of all the dangers that children can face, you might not think the laundry room is one of them. But earlier this year a 3-year-old died allegedly after getting trapped inside a front-loading washer.
Since 2014 the Consumer Products Safety Commission says it’s aware of three deaths of children 5 and younger linked to washing machines. And the number of emergency room visits for injuries associated with washing machines is about 3,000. But most of those were related to falls.
Consumer Reports says that because young children are curious, parents need to be aware of potential dangers.
If you have a separate laundry room, lock it. And no matter where the washer and dryer are located, always keep their doors shut.
Many newer washing machines have a safety-lock feature. It can be activated by pressing a combination of buttons or holding down a button for several seconds. Each machine is different, so you’ll want to check the manual to see if it has a lockout feature and how you set it up.
Consumer Reports says another safety option is an aftermarket childproof lock for washing machines, similar to the ones you would put on a kitchen or bathroom cabinet.
Laundry pods are another danger in your laundry room. In the first nine months of 2019, poison control centers reported 7,685 calls about children 5 and younger related to laundry packets. The problem? The detergent packets can look like candy to young children and people who are cognitively impaired.
The detergent in laundry packets is more highly concentrated than other forms, and when a child ingests it or it comes into contact with the skin or eyes, it can cause serious effects. Major manufacturers have taken steps to make their packaging more child-resistant, but people are still being harmed after contact with these laundry packets.
Consumer Reports' advice is that liquid laundry packets should be avoided in homes with children under 6 years old or adults who are cognitively impaired.
If you’re looking for pod-free laundry detergent, Consumer Reports recommends Tide Plus Ultra Stain Release liquid detergent. In Consumer Reports' tests, it earns top scores, successfully removing body oil, dirt, grass, and other stains.