Parents: Beware of dangers lurking in laundry room

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 allegedly died after getting trapped inside a front-loading washer. 

Since 2014, the Consumer Products Safety Commission says they are aware of three deaths among children 5 and younger linked to washing machines.

And the number of emergency room visits for washing machine associated injuries was about 3,000. However, most of those were related to falls. 

Consumer Reports says young children are curious, so parents need to be aware of the potential dangers.

If you have a separate laundry room, lock it. And whether you have a separate laundry room or not, always keep the doors to the washer and dryer shut. 

Many newer washing machines will have a lockout feature on the appliance. It’s often activated by holding 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 might go about setting that up.

Another danger in your laundry room are laundry pods. In the first nine months of 2019, poison control centers reported 7,685 calls in children 5 and under related to laundry packets. The issue? The detergent packets can look like candy to young children or people who are cognitively impaired.

The detergent in laundry packets is more highly concentrated than other forms and when you ingest it or when it comes in 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 getting injured when coming into contact with these laundry packets.

CR’s advice: liquid laundry packets should be avoided in homes with children under 6 years old or adults who are cognitively impaired. 

Consumer Reports says another safety option is after-market child-proof locks for washing machines, similar to the ones you would put on a kitchen or bathroom cabinet.

And, if you’re looking for a pod-free laundry detergent, Consumer Reports recommends Tide Plus Ultra Stain Release liquid detergent. In CR’s tests it earned top scores and tackled body oil, dirt, grass and other stains.