Detergents are divided into several categories.
Soaps: Bar soaps, laundry soaps, and homemade soaps.
Anionic detergents: Laundry detergents, shampoos, dish soaps, and electric dishwashing detergents.
Cationic detergents: Fabric softeners, sanitizers, disinfectants, and rust inhibitors in petroleum products. This category includes quaternary ammoniums.
Non-ionic detergents: Dishwashing detergents, shampoos, and some laundry detergents.
Detergents come in a variety of forms with each having a different level of toxicity. Every home has these common products in some form, and all family members need to be aware of the dangers.
Soaps: True soaps are usually not toxic.
Anionic: Slightly to moderately toxic; may result in illness but generally not fatalities.
Cationic: Highly to extremely toxic; 1% solutions are damaging to mucous membranes.
Non-ionic: Less toxic than the anionic and cationic detergents.
Soaps: Vomiting and diarrhea. Homemade soap may cause corrosive GI lesions (burns).
Anionic: Irritated mucous membranes, vomiting, lack of appetite, diarrhea, and GI distention. May have corrosive injuries in the mouth and GI tract. Eye exposure may result in edema around the cornea, reddening and swelling of the conjunctiva, and corneal erosions or ulcers.
Cationic: Vomiting, lack of appetite, drooling, muscle weakness, depression, seizures, collapse, coma, and burns to the mouth and GI tract. Eye exposure may cause redness and severe corneal erosions and ulcers. Skin exposure may result in hair loss and skin irritation.
Non-ionic: Vomiting and diarrhea.
DO NOT induce vomiting if ingested. It may cause more harm. Seek veterinary attention. In the case of dermal contact, flush the skin for at least 30 minutes with running water. In the case of eye contact, flush the eye with sterile saline or water for 20 minutes. Seek veterinary attention while you are performing the decontamination.
General treatment: Administration of milk or water in the case of soap, anionic, or non-ionic detergent ingestion, or administration of milk, water, or egg whites in the case of cationic detergent ingestion. If dermal (skin) or ocular exposure occurred, the affected areas will continue to be flushed with sterile saline.
Supportive treatment: Pain medication may be administered, hydration is maintained through IV fluids, and other treatments for symptoms may be given.
Specific treatment: Unavailable.
Fair to good, depending on detergent ingested.