Consumer Reports: The Laundry Detergent Test

A commercial for OxiClean claims that you can clean 25 loads with each detergent ball. And you'll never have to pour or measure detergent again. But the OxiClean ball did not do well in Consumer Reports' recent test of laundry detergents. And it costs almost five times as much as some other detergents that did a good job.

In all, Consumer Reports tested 39 laundry detergents, both liquids and powders. The tests also included high-efficiency detergents, which are specifically recommended for front-loading washing machines.

Testers used squares of cotton saturated with common household stains, such as chocolate ice cream, tea, lipstick, and red wine, to assess cleaning power. Consumer Reports washed more than 3,000 stained cotton swatches in more than 100 loads. The tests showed that there's very little performance difference between liquid and powder detergents. It's really just a matter of personal preference.

But Consumer Reports found that some brands were standouts based on value and performance. For conventional top-loading washing machines, Tide with Bleach Alternative, at 35 cents per load, is top-rated. If you have a front-loading machine, Consumer Reports' Best Buy, Costco's Kirkland Signature Ultra, is a great choice. It costs 12 cents per load.

If you don't have an automatic laundry detergent dispenser, Consumer Reports suggests for best cleaning results first turn on the water in the washer then add the detergent, and once the detergent is dissolved, add your laundry.

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