How to Child Proof Your Laundry Room

Two Parts:Keeping Dangers Out of ReachSafeguarding Laundry Appliances

Laundry rooms are often out-of-the-way and infrequent hangout spaces for small children, so even the most obsessive child-proofing parents may overlook theirs. However, laundry rooms are full of dangerous chemicals and heavy-duty appliances that can harm children in a number of ways. Whether your laundry room is in a dingy corner of your basement or occupies a prime location in your main living area, take some time to think like a child and protect like a parent. A few small changes can make a huge difference in laundry room safety.

Part 1
Keeping Dangers Out of Reach

  1. Image titled Child Proof Your Laundry Room Step 1
    Store laundry products out of reach and out of view. Detergents and other laundry products often come in brightly colored containers and have appealing scents. Small children can seem almost compelled to touch them and — if given the chance — taste them. To prevent this, make “out of sight, out of mind” you mantra as you decide how and where to store your laundry products.[1]
    • If at all possible, keep your laundry products in an overhead, locked cabinet. If this is not feasible, keep them on a high shelf that cannot be accessed by small children. If you must keep them in a lower position, make sure they are kept behind a locked cabinet door at all times.
    • When choosing where to locate your laundry products, imagine that you are storing dangerous chemicals … because you are.
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    Keep products in the original packaging and in the intended place. You may think it is safer to pour your fabric softener into some nondescript container instead of the colorful package with the cuddly bear on it, but you’re more likely to cause confusion this way. Make sure you know exactly what is in each container, and return each item to its secure storage location as soon as you finish dispensing it.[2][3]
    • Never keep laundry products on the machines, on the floor, or in basket, even during wash cycles or between loads.
    • Identify laundry products in their original packaging as “bad” by applying a “Mr. Yuk” or similar child safety sticker. But never assume a sticker will stop a child from exploring.
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    Take special precautions with detergent packs / pods. In only a few years on the market, laundry detergent pods or packs — pre-dosed amounts of concentrated detergent sealed within dissolvable “skins” — have become widely adopted because of their convenience. Unfortunately, the qualities that make them so convenient — their size, shape, and quick-dissolving nature — also make them particularly dangerous for small children. Several thousand poisoning incidents occur in the U.S. each year due to ingestion of detergent pods.[4][5]
    • Keep the pods / packs secure within their original packaging, and keep the package sealed and stored properly. Never allow a child to touch one of the pods, as even a small amount of moisture can dissolve the “skin” that seals the detergent inside. The detergent is highly concentrated, so wash your hands after touching a pod and before touching a child.
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    Look around from a kid’s perspective. It may seem silly to get down on your hands and knees in your laundry room, but placing yourself at a small child’s eye level really does make it much easier to identify potential hazards. Doing so can also alert you that something you think is securely out of reach and/or out of sight is in fact not.[6]
    • Children under three years old, and especially under eighteen months, explore by “mouthing” things. To reduce choking hazards, make sure that items smaller than the child’s fist are always out of reach. Watch also for laundry items that children are drawn to grab, handle, and “mouth,” like spray bottles and powdered detergent scoops.
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    Make the laundry room a kid-free zone as much as possible. The most truly “child-proof” laundry room is one in which a child never enters. If you can place your laundry room behind a locked door, do it. In any case, teach your child from the start that the laundry room is a “grown up space” and keep any toys or kid-friendly items out of it.
    • Do the laundry during naptime or when the kids are outside playing with grandma so they don’t have to join you in the laundry room.[7]
    • As soon as your kids are old enough to understand, teach them that detergent pods are not candy and liquid cleaners are not beverages.[8]
    • Let your little child be a “big helper” with sorting dirty clothes or putting clean ones away, not with the washing. Teaching that skill can wait until kids are much older.

Part 2
Safeguarding Laundry Appliances

  1. Image titled Child Proof Your Laundry Room Step 6
    Latch the doors on front-load washers and dryers. If a small child can reach a door handle, he or she will try to open that door — and front-loader appliance door handles are just the right height. Such doors often take effort to disengage and then fling open, possibly striking the child. Even worse, a curious child may climb into the machine and possibly seal him or herself inside.[9]
    • Visit the child safety display of your preferred retailer and choose latches specifically designed for this purpose. Add them to your refrigerator, oven, and other potentially dangerous locations while you’re at it.
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    Prevent falls and eliminate appliance tipping hazards. When open, a traditional dryer door makes an ideal drawbridge-like platform upon which a child will want to climb. Falling from atop a washer or dryer, especially onto a hard basement floor, can easily injure a child. Additionally, if the appliance is not securely on level flooring, there is the possibility that it may tip over onto the child.[10]
    • Make sure your appliances don’t wobble, rock, tilt, or tip. Washers and dryers have adjustable legs to compensate for uneven floors.
    • Do not allow children to play on or near washers and dryers. They are heavy-duty and potentially dangerous pieces of machinery.
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    Hide or secure irons, ironing boards, and other laundry accessories. An iron on a shelf with a dangling cord is an accident waiting to happen. A pull-down ironing board can also easily cause injuries, and freestanding models can tip over or catch tiny fingers when opened or closed. Once again, look and think like a child and keep tempting but dangerous items out of view and/or out of reach.[11]
    • Don’t leave your iron and ironing board out, even if you have to stop partway through your ironing. Put them away and get them back out whenever you get the chance to finish ironing the clothes.
    • Be smart with accessories like collapsible drying racks as well. They present a significant pinch hazard.
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    Ensure that utility connections are safe. For general health and safety, check regularly to ensure that electrical, gas, water supply and drainage, and exhaust connections are properly attached and maintained. For childproofing purposes, keep as many cords, pipes, tubes, and connections out of sight or out of reach as possible.
    • A washing machine should be connected directly to a standard 110 volt outlet (in the U.S.), while a dryer should be plugged into a dedicated 220 volt line. Make sure all connections are secure and out of reach of children. If necessary, use childproofing outlet covers that prevent access to the plugged-in connection.[12]
    • Never allow standing water to remain in a laundry sink, wash basin, bucket, or anything else that could present a drowning hazard. Small children can drown in very small amounts of water. Clear slow or blocked laundry sink drains immediately.

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Categories: Parenting