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Consumer Reports: Best laundry detergents for tough stains, sensitive skin

Posted at 6:43 AM, Aug 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-25 06:43:05-04

When it comes to laundry detergents, some of us have our tried and true favorites. Others go for the big box deals, and still others are lured by scents or labels that promise stain-fighting magic.

Consumer Reports’ latest tests reveal the top-performing detergents, whether you’ve got stains, sensitive skin or just want the best deal so you don’t waste your money.

Judon Foster enjoys doing the laundry for his family. But between a toddler, a newborn, and his wife Eunice – a grad student – laundry life can get overwhelming.

“It feels like it’s never ending and I feel like, where did all these clothes come from?" said Judon Foster.

Consumer Reports just tested dozens of laundry detergents to find which ones clean the best.

“We use fabric swatches soaked with tough stains like blood, dirt, grass, coffee, and then we use each detergent to see how well that detergent gets the stain out," said Haniya Rae, Consumer Reports editor.

The lighter the stain after washing, the better the detergent scores on cleaning performance. Testers also check how well each detergent acts as a pre-treater for stains. That way you only need to buy one laundry product.

“In our tests the detergents that earn excellent ratings will tackle pretty normal stains like body oil and dirt. They’re also going to tackle things that are a bit tougher like grass and blood," said Haniya Rae.

The top scoring detergents in Consumer Report’s ratings are liquids, Tide Plus Ultra stain release at 28 cents a load or Persil Pro Clean Fighter for 21-cents per load.

If you have sensitive skin, try Persil Pro Clean sensitive skin.

And this Kirkland Signature Ultra clean liquid from Costco is the best value at only 11 cents per load. If you’re okay sacrificing cleaning power and paying more money, these power-pods from Tide at 67 cents per load scored the best.

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 besides, pods can’t help you pre-treat stains, which is especially important to the Foster family.

“We do find ourselves having to remove stains a lot," said Eunice Foster.

Consumer Reports says when it comes to stains, the sooner you treat it, the better.

If you’re speedy enough to catch the stain before it soaks into the thread of the fabric, some water may be all you need to flush it out.

Consumer Reports says for protein-based stains, like blood and eggs, use cold water because hot water can actually set the stain.