You've seen the scary commercial—a mother is doing laundry and her baby reaches for the laundry pods. Yikes! It’s a parent’s nightmare! No matter how they package them, poisonous pods look like candy, with their shiny bright colors and rounded shape.
Want a simple, effective, child-safe detergent alternative to the pod that's just as convenient? You're in luck, as there's a new option out there.
Life Fully Dissolving Detergent Sheets (available from Amazon) are flat, white, and fragrance-free—and they don't look edible. In fact, they look like dryer sheets. You pull one or two sheets out, and toss them in with your wash. There’s no measuring necessary, they can't spill, and they’re significantly lighter to carry than a bag of pods, a box of powder, or a bottle of liquid detergent.
The manufacturer claims that they’re eco-friendly as well as kid-friendly, and that they work in hot or cold water in any washing machine, or even in the sink! We decided to find out whether they work by testing them in our laundry labs.
How well do they work?
We tested them in our labs, comparing their performance with Tide Pods and Tide liquid detergent and we found that in terms of stain removal, neither the Life Sheets nor the Tide Pods could quite match liquid Tide, which took out about 5.6% more stains. Tide pods beat the sheets, too. Life Sheets removed 4.12% fewer stains than the pods.
That’s not a huge difference, but you have to decide whether the cleaning deficit is worth the safety and convenience.
Are they safe?
We could accept that the sheets look less tempting to kids than pods, but wanted to look at how safe they were for the whole family. We found that they made our hands feel sticky, so we wouldn’t carry them around unwrapped, but there we didn't find anything obviously unsafe about Life Sheets.
The manufacturer claims the ingredients, which have natural vegetable sources, and they're are comparable to ingredients found in many consumer products. They include Sodium Laureth Sulfate, a surfactant found in many hand soaps, Hydroxysultaine, which is found in shampoo, and Laureth-5, found in many cosmetics, including glue-on lashes.
Sure, kids shouldn't eat them, but the design is such that they wouldn't want to.
How do they stack up, cost-wise?
Life Sheets are more expensive to use than Tide pods on a per-wash basis. Life Sheets cost about 19 cents per sheet, but each sheet is only rated for five pounds of laundry. You’d need to use two sheets for 11 pounds of laundry, which is about the size of a regular basket of clothes. That would run you about 39 cents a load, compared to about 25 cents a load for the Pods. We used a single Pod and two sheets in our tests with eight pound wash loads.
What users say
Very few people have tried these yet. So far, the new product is only available on Amazon—but people who did use them loved them. The consensus is that they clean well, keep little ones from eating pods, and don't irritate sensitive skin. They're also easy to lug to the laundromat.
Should you use them?
So, switching to Life Sheets will cost you a little more per wash. But, if you have little kids, travel plans, or a long walk to the laundromat, it could be worth the price for the short term. The sheets are easy to use, and they don’t look delicious to small children.
Beyond the obvious child safety use case, we came up with a number of other application for Life Sheets. They’re extremely packable, and so, convenient for travel. When I’m on the road, I usually use the hotel’s shampoo to wash my delicates in the sink, but these would be a step up. And, since they don’t require a washing machine, you can bring them on camping trips.
If you’re sending kids to college, you can drop them off with a package of detergent sheets to make it easier to do laundry in the dorm. And if you wash your clothes at the local laundromat, you could tuck a few Life Sheets into your laundry bag, and pop them into the washer with your laundry, instead of measuring detergent.
If you do go to the laundromat, take a look the detergent vending machine. We predict that this product, or something similar, may be showing up there soon.