When it comes to laundry detergents, some of us have our tried and true favorites. Others go for the big-box deals, while others are lured by scents or labels that promise stain-fighting magic.
Consumer Reports’ latest tests reveal top-performing detergents, whether you’ve got stains, sensitive skin, or just want the best deal.
Testers use fabric swatches soaked with tough stains like blood, dirt, grass, coffee to determine how well detergents work.
The lighter the stain after washing, the better the detergent scores on cleaning performance.
Testers also check how well each detergent works as a pretreatment for stains. That way you only need to buy one laundry product.
In CR’s tests, the detergents that earn excellent ratings tackle normal stains like body oil and dirt. They also tackle stains that are a bit tougher, like grass and blood.
The top-scoring detergents in CR’s ratings are liquids: Tide Plus Ultra Stain Release, at 28 cents per load, and Persil Pro Clean Fighter, for 21 cents per load.
If you have sensitive skin, try Persil Pro Clean Sensitive Skin.
Kirkland Signature Ultra Clean Liquid from Costco is the best value, at only 11 cents per load.
If you prefer to use pods, Tide Power Pods score the best, although you sacrifice cleaning power and pay a little more at 67 cents per load.
But Consumer Reports cautions that pods can be dangerous, especially in households with young children or cognitively impaired adults who might accidentally ingest them.
And you can’t use pods to pretreat stains, which is important to some families.
CR says when it comes to stains, the sooner you treat them, the better. If you’re speedy enough to catch a stain before it soaks into the fabric, water may be all you need to flush it out. CR says for protein-based stains like blood or eggs, use cold water; hot water can actually set those stains.