Which laundry detergent cleans best?

June 22, 2009 4:19:28 PM PDT
Companies spend more than $300 million a year advertising laundry detergents, but how do you know which cleans the best? Consumer Reports just tested more than three dozen and we've got the results.

Project Runway's Tim Gunn is touting Tide's latest edition, Tide Total Care, which claims to keep colors bright after 30 washes.

Consumer Reports wanted to see if Tide Total Care delivered on that promise. Testers washed three brand new cotton dresses 30 times. One in Tide Total Care, another in All Small & Mighty, and another in 2X Ultra Tide for Cold Water.

Consumer Reports' Pat Slaven then compared the new dress to the washed ones.

"As you can see, the dress washed with All faded compared to the dress washed with Tide Total Care," said Slaven.

The dress washed in 2X Ultra Tide for Cold Water looks about the same as the Tide Total Care dress, but that detergent costs about half as much. Also, the cheaper 2X Ultra Tide for Cold Water did a better job getting out stains in Consumer Reports' stain-removal tests.

Over 40 detergents were evaluated. Testers washed more than 1,500 cotton squares stained with hard-to-clean substances like red wine, grass, blood, and chocolate.

In the end, Consumer Reports named two best buys that will tear through tough stains and save you some money, too.

For conventional top-loading washers, try 2X Ultra Tide for Cold Water.

For high-efficiency front-loaders, Consumer Reports recommends Ultra Cheer Color Guard 2X Concentrated.

Another tip to save more money is to wash your laundry in cold water instead of warm. Consumer Reports says with a conventional top-loader that can reduce your energy costs by $60 a year.

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