Consumer Reports rates best laundry detergents

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Consumer Reports tests best laundry detergents: Brian Taff reports during Action News at 4:30pm on March 29, 2018. (WPVI)

For most of us, laundry is a necessary evil so we don't want to waste our time and money on a detergent that doesn't get the job done.

But consumer reports may be able to help you avoid a laundry loser.

Liz Salvati does a load of laundry a day and says she's picky about which detergent she uses.

"My son plays sports and there are constant grass and dirt stains all over his clothes," she said.

Consumer Reports tests laundry detergents to see how well they perform against many types of stains.

Testers use these special fabric swatches stained with ingredients like body oil, dirt, blood, chocolate, wine, and tea.

"Because we have an instrument that can measure how much of the stain is removed we can tell how well the detergents are working," said Rico De Paz from Consumer Reports. "If you just washed it with water you can see that the water is not really very different from the original."

And 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," said De Paz.

This Member's Mark Ultimate Clean from Sam's Club or this 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 like Liz.

"Yes, I usually take some of the laundry detergent and I pour it directly on the stain, rub it in and let it sit for a little while before I put it into the laundry," she said.

Finally, 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.

To read the full ratings from Consumer Reports, CLICK HERE.

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