A potentially fatal online challenge has led teenagers to chew and even swallow laundry detergent pods.

Doctors are warning people not to participate in the "Tide Pod Challenge" - where teenagers film themselves chewing and gagging on colorful detergent pods and then daring others to participate, the Daily Mail reports.

While it may just seem like fun and games, the social media fad could lead to death.

The pods contain ethanol, polymers and hydrogen peroxide and are extremely toxic. They can make people incredibly sick if consumed.


Any amount of detergent ingested from the pods can lead to diarrhea and vomiting.

'A lot of people were just saying how stupid I was or how – why would I be willing to do that,' Marc Pagan, 19, said to CBS News after he did the challenge on a dare.

"No one should be putting anything like that in their mouths, you know?"

The craze appears to have started in a 2015 parody article by the Onion joking about eating the pods.

In 2017, College Humor posted a satirical video titled Don't Eat Laundry Pods showing a college student tempted to eat the pods because they look inviting and delicious. After researching how bad they are for you, the man then eats a whole bowl.

Shortly after the video went viral, home videos of people eating laundry detergent pods began popping up on Reddit, Twitter and YouTube.

"They should not be played with... Even if meant as a joke. Safety is no laughing matter," Tide said in a statement.

There have already been 40 cases of detergent ingestion reported to The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) in 2018. About half of them were intentionally ingested.

At least 10 deaths have been linked to accidentally ingesting them in the past, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Two of the deaths were young children, and the other eight involved elderly people with dementia.