We all know that detergent pods and dishwasher tablets are dangerous. And that it’s important to keep them away from toddlers. But what about our teenagers?

You would think they’d know better, but a dangerous viral challenge sweeping social media is encouraging teens to eat the soapy pods. And they’re doing it in droves.

Nobody is sure where the detergent challenge – or ‘Tide Pod Challenge’ in the States – began. Tut the Washington Post reports there have been 37 reported poisoning cases among US teenagers so far this year, with half them being intentional.

What is the detergent challenge?

The ‘challenge’ involves putting a pod of laundry detergent in your mouth and trying to chew it. And yes, it looks as disgusting (and stupid) as it sounds. It usually ends with the challenger (unsurprisingly) gagging or spewing up the detergent. But here’s the worst of it – they then challenge others to try it for themselves.

YouTube have already started removing videos of the challenge to try and stem the tide of idiotic copycat teens.

“YouTube’s Community Guidelines prohibit content that’s intended to encourage dangerous activities that have an inherent risk of physical harm,” says spokeswoman Jessica Mason.

Just how dangerous are laundry pods?

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) ‘put the industry on notice’ back in 2013. It warned companies to change their packaging after Australian poison centres received more than 85 calls in 18 months.

“Children who have either ingested these laundry capsules or have been exposed to them have experienced symptoms such as severe skin irritations, coughing, drowsiness, vomiting and even temporary blindness,” says ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard.

Kidsafe Australia’s advice for laundry pods and other cleaning products is to store poisons in a locked cupboard that’s at least 1.5m above the ground. And use child-resistant locks on cupboards and cabinets.

This may keep your little ones out of trouble, but might not be much of a match for teenagers.

If your child has ingested household chemicals, such as laundry capsules, contact the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26.

It’s hard to protect teens from dangerous behaviour, but as parents we try to do what we can. Like Tick Everett, the dad who has launched a campaign to stop cyber bullying after his daughter Dolly, 14, took her own life.

Author

Originally from the UK, but now very much at home on the sunny NSW Central Coast, Sarah is mum to 18-month-old Freddy. When she's not writing, you'll find her at the beach, chasing Freddy at high speed, or drinking tea and eating cake whilst thinking about going to the gym.

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