Teenagers on social media have joined a challenge to "eat" laundry detergent pods in an alarming new trend.

Type "Tide pod challenge" on YouTube and you will easily find dozens of videos where teens – and adults who should know better – merrily bite into pods of laundry detergent, despite the health risks.

Medical experts have warned that ingesting detergent is extremely dangerous and can cause health problems or even death.

The trend prompted a health warning from Tide, the product's manufacturer.

"Nothing is more important to us than the safety of the people who use our products," a spokesperson for the brand told Buzzfeed.

"Our laundry packs are a highly concentrated detergent meant to clean clothes and they're used safely in millions of households every day. They should only be used to clean clothes and kept up [on a high shelf], closed and away from children."

Laundry Room
Laundry Room stadshem.se

According to Vox, the affair originated in a meme that has been doing the rounds on Twitter and Tumblr since at least 2015. An article by satirical online publication the Onion titled "So help me God, I'm going to eat one of those multicolored detergent pods," written from the perspective of an imaginary child was published in August that year.

Many Twitter users joked about how satisfying pods would taste and how delicious they looked.

Teenagers started biting into pods for real in early 2018 in the name of a couple of likes and retweets on Twitter.

One teenager, who has not been named, told Buzzfeed that she heard of the pods on a Whatsapp challenge group and decided to record herself biting into one before uploading the video on to Twitter. Her mother later demanded she take the video down, which she did.

"I wasn't scared because I knew I wasn't going to swallow it. Just bite into it. And I washed my mouth out for quite some time afterwards," said the girl.

Other teenagers have uploaded videos on different social platforms of themselves eating pods.

In late 2017, another dangerous internet challenge emerged in China, called the Light Bulb Challenge. People tried to fit a 10cm lightbulb-shaped lollipop in their mouths. One doctor warned that people could dislocate their jaw trying to fit such a big object into their mouths.