What Does Laundry Detergent Do to Your Teeth?

person half hanging out of washing machine at a laundromat

Have you been hearing about the Tide POD Challenge? Of course you have. This challenge is like all the other social media challenges in that it is sweeping the internet. While it is unlike its distant cousin the Ice Bucket Challenge, which promotes a charitable cause and doesn’t generally cause harm, it’s similar to the ridiculous and dangerous Cinnamon Challenge.

What Are Tide PODS®?

Tide PODS are laundry detergent. They’re colorful and convenient, but they are certainly never meant for human consumption. It started as a joke, a tongue-in-cheek remark that Tide pods look like a fun, fruity, bite-sized candy. For one reason or another, some internet users have taken the meme movement literally, biting into laundry pods and posting their reactions online.

The fact of the matter is that Tide PODS are poison. They are made of a mixture of strong chemicals that are intended to remove dirt and grime from your clothes. They can cause burns and skin and eye irritations. Tide PODS carry poison warnings on the packaging, and Tide has issued PSAs to help spread awareness regarding the dangers of consuming them.

What Happens When You Eat a Tide POD

Tide PODS are highly concentrated laundry detergent that is covered in a dissolvable pouch. If you were to put a Tide POD in your mouth, the first thing that you would notice is an extremely bitter taste. Starting in 2015, Tide coated their laundry pods in Bitrex to discourage children from eating them. Bitrex is harmless, but the bitterness is intended to make you spit it out.

If the Tide POD stays in your mouth, your saliva will begin dissolving the pod’s coating. The gel-like insides of the Tide POD are made of cleaning agents that, while very good at removing stains from our clothes, are extremely hazardous to our mouths.

  • Having the detergents in your mouth results in a chemical burn. Your body will respond to this attack with swelling, potentially resulting in difficulty breathing.
  • In response to the chemical burn of having a dissolved Tide Pod in your mouth, you may inhale sharply. This could lead to severe burns of the esophagus, stomach, or damage to the lungs, which could be fatal.
  • Some of the chemicals in Tide PODS have been found to cause nervous system depression, which could result in loss of consciousness.

As now famously said by Gronk, don’t eat Tide PODS. Don’t pretend to eat them either by putting them in your mouth. It’s painful and dangerous. Stick to the conventional tooth cleaning materials: toothpaste, mouthwash, and floss.

If you (or someone you know) has eaten a Tide Pod, call Poison Control immediately.