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When I was a kid, pretty much everyone I knew used the same plastic pumpkin container to hold their candy while trick-or-treating. There were no hoity-toity, Halloween-themed buckets. No branded tote bags. No drawstring bags or specially designed tote sacks reminiscent of the old pillowcase sacks.
If you’re over a certain age, you know the kind of containers I’m talking about. Those plastic jack-o’-lanterns with the black, plastic handle, the hole on top mimicking the hole where you’d pull the guts out of a pumpkin you were actually carving. They looked basically like this:
Kids seemed to use either that or a pillowcase. Since my day, it seems like people have gotten a lot more creative with the vessels for their Halloween candy. In addition to the wide variety of containers you can order online, many people are going the DIY route. And some of these DIY-ers have taken to turning empty containers of Tide Pods laundry detergent into Halloween buckets.
At first glance, this seems like a perfect hack. The containers have the right shape and color, and you probably already have some lying around your house.
However, experts are warning that this is actually a pretty dangerous idea. “Detergent residue can linger, so you don’t want to reuse packaging from these products, especially for food or beverage storage,” says Doris Sullivan, associate director of product safety at Consumer Reports.
Ironically, the containers themselves were designed to discourage children from eating the colorful pods inside, which can resemble candy. However, poisoning of children by the detergent in liquid laundry packets of all brands is a problem that persists. So far this year, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, centers across the nation have received reports of 8,665 children being exposed to the detergent in liquid laundry pods and packs through ingesting, inhaling, absorbing the contents through their skin or getting it in their eyes.
Exposure to these pods can cause serious health risks, including coma, seizures, pulmonary edema, respiratory arrest, eye irritation, corneal abrasion and even death. A 2016 study published in “Pediatrics” found that exposure to pods led to two deaths and that 104 children required intubation in 2013 and 2014 as a result of exposure.
While the industry has made changes to reduce the risks that pods pose to children, such as switching from clear to opaque containers and adding child-resistant latches, Consumer Reports continues to recommend that households with children younger than 6 not use laundry pods at all until improved safety measures meaningfully impact the number of injuries in a positive way.