What Are Laundry Detergent Pods ?

Tide - an image of a container for laundry detergent pods
Courtesy of Tide Marketing dept.

Laundry detergent pods or packs are an innovation that is going to stay with us for some time. Finding a convenient method of dispensing detergent to wash our clothes in a washing machine has been a treasured goal of many soap manufacturers for years. Then the pod arrived which was a bit like those coffee pods with all its promise of a measured dose of detergent. The first one appeared in January 2012 when Procter & Gamble brought in Tide Pods.

The pouches themselves are water-soluble, they dissolve remarkably quickly which makes them especially handy. The sachets are made of polyvinylalcohol (PVA). This film is soluble in cold water so mild wash temperatures can be used.

Laundry pods make about 15% of the whole $7 billion-a-year US laundry detergent market sales based on a Nielsen report. 

The main benefit is providing a precise measure of detergent for each wash, dispensing with the need for handling powders and reducing the waste associated with unmetered out detergent. For large loads, two pods are needed. Pound for pound the pods are considerably more expensive than washing powder but it is increasingly difficult to find powders. 

There are of course severe safety concerns over their use. Children especially find the strong green and blue colours especially appealing and have tried consuming them with disastrous results.

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