Consumer Reports: Laundry Detergents

July 9, 2012

The latest in laundry detergents feature pre-measured packs that give you the exact amount of detergent you need for an average load; No measuring required!

Laundry packs may be handy, but Consumer Reports says there are drawbacks.

Many laundry detergents now come in small packs that are intended for easy use. Consumer Reports tested ones from Tide, All, Arm & Hammer, Ajax, Purex, and Dropps.

Some of the packs are quick to dissolve in water. But that can be a problem if you have wet hands.

There is also a safety concern. The American Association of Poison Control Centers has issued a warning about pack detergents.

It's received more than a thousand reports of children being injured or sickened by them. Dan DiClerico of Consumer Reports points out, "as with all household cleaners, it's important to keep them out of children's reach."

As for how well the packs clean, Consumer Reports tested using swatches of fabric that had been soaked with tough-to-remove stains like wine and grass. The swatches were washed along with a full load of towels. Then a machine analyzed the results.

Only one pack detergent - Tide Pods - cleaned well enough to earn a Consumer Reports' recommendation. They cost 22¢ per load. You can use them in front and top-loading washing machines.

However, another Tide detergent - a powder - does an even better job of cleaning. It's Tide Ultra Plus Bleach for about the same price. But it can only be used in high-efficiency washers

If you have a conventional top-loader, Consumer Reports says consider powder laundry detergent Ultra Up and Up from Target. While it doesn't clean as well as the Tide detergents, it costs half as much.

Because of the dangers posed to children with laundry detergent packs, Tide says it's adding a safer double latch on its plastic containers.

Consumer Reports says if your child is exposed to a detergent pack, serious side effects can occur quickly, so call a poison control center immediately.

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