Best laundry detergents

Nobody likes doing laundry, but most of us have to do it.

We don't want to waste our time with a detergent that doesn't get the job done.

When it comes to nasty stains or just ordinary grime, Consumer Reports' new detergent ratings will help you avoid a laundry loser.

CR Testers use special fabric swatches stained with ingredients like body oil, dirt, blood, chocolate, wine, and tea. The testers also use an instrument that can measure how much of a stain is removed to tell how well the detergents are working.

If you use one of the lower rated detergents -- like Trader Joe's Liquid Laundry HE or Xtra Scentsations -- you're cleaning with something that performed only slightly better than plain water in Consumer Reports' tests.

The top-scoring detergents -- Tide Plus Ultra Stain Release and Persil Pro-Clean Power Liquid 2-in-1 -- are tops at removing body oil and dirt. But those detergents aren't cheap. CR's expert says you might not need all that cleaning power.

If you're not up against tough stains like grass or you don't have a bunch of grungy clothes to wash there are a lot of lower priced detergents that will do the job really well. Member's Mark Ultimate Clean from Sam's Club or Kirkland Signature Ultra Clean Free and Clear from Costco are both good options. So is All Stainlifter detergent for half the price of Tide.

Another money saver -- skip stain removers and pre-treat: pour some of the laundry detergent directly on the stain, rub it in and let it sit for a little while before washing.

Consumer Reports says it's important to add the correct amount of detergent. Using too much is not only a waste of money but it can also leave a residue on your clothes.
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