Parents have been warned about the potential dangers of gel tablets used to wash laundry.

Nottingham City Council’s trading standards team say a lot of people are unaware of the risks posed by the bright, colourful detergent cubes, which often attract the interest of small children.

In the worst cases, injuries can be life-threatening and increasing numbers of children are being treated at hospital after swallowing liquid from the capsules, or from exposure to the skin after the products have burst.

The city council's trading standards team has issued this advise in case of a child’s accidental exposure:

  • If the capsule/packet is put in the mouth and the liquid is swallowed, rinse as much of the detergent as possible from the child’s mouth;

  • Do not induce vomiting;

  • If the child’s eyes or hands are exposed, rinse them carefully;

  • Call a doctor, a poison control centre or go to accident and emergency at your nearest hospital.

Jane Bailey, Trading Standards Manager for Nottingham City Council, said: “These liquid capsules are often in bright colours, pinks and greens, which instantly make them visually interesting to young children.

“If possible, they should always be kept in locked cupboards or out of reach, and always in their original container.

“The capsules must be handled with dry hands because they are designed to disintegrate when they come into contact with water, and children should never be encouraged to pick them up or play with them.”

Trading standards have produced a free information poster to give away for nursery schools, playgroups, schools, Sure Start centres, play centres, leisure and community centres, doctor’s surgeries and libraries.

These washing machine capsules are the sort of thing that will be found in family homes right across the city, but perhaps people are not aware of just how harmful they can be to young children.

Councillor Dave Liversidge, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety, Housing and Voluntary Sector at Nottingham City Council