What's behind our laundry detergent Ratings?

Experts at our National Testing and Research Center tested 69 models in laundry detergents to see which ones perform best.
We look for:
  • Overall score
    Overall score based on cool, hard-water washing performance of cotton swatches heavily soiled with blood, mud, chocolate ice cream, grass, red wine, ring around the collar, and tea. Displayed scores are rounded; products are listed in order of precise overall score.
  • Type
    Detergent type this includes: Liquid, Powder, Sheets and Devices which are detergent-less washing systems.
  • Cool water cleanability
    This is the washing performance of the detergent in cool water (75 deg F).
  • Warm water cleanability
    This is the washing performance of the detergent in warm water (90 deg. F). A score of "0" indicates that the product was not tested in warm water.
  • Grass - Very good at removing
    This indicates that the detergent is very good at removing Grass stains.
  • Blood - Very good at removing
    This indicates that the detergent is very good at removing Blood stains.
  • Dust Sebum - Very good at removing
    This indicates that the detergent is very good at removing Dust/Sebum stains that are commonly called "ring around the collar".


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Recommended laundry detergents

Recommended laundry detergents are standout choices with high scores. They include CR Best Buys, which offer exceptional value. When narrowing your choices, weigh features, price, and attributes that matter to you.
  • Buying Guide
  • Ratings
Our laundry detergent tests show that some laundry detergents deal especially well with specific stains, such as ring around the collar, grass, tea, chocolate, or clay. But most people need a laundry detergent that can tackle a wide range of common stains. If you're looking for information about laundry detergents, Consumer Reports is your best resource. Consumer Reports’ laundry detergent reviews will give you honest buying advice that you can trust. Use our laundry detergent buying guide to discover which features are most important to consider. We also provide unbiased Ratings and laundry detergent reviews to help you choose the best laundry detergent for your needs.

Laundry detergent buying guide

Laundry detergent buying guide

High-efficiency top-loaders and front-loaders use a lot less water than agitator top-loaders and require low-sudsing detergents--you'll see HE on the detergent label. Most labels say the HE detergent can also be used in agitator top-loaders. With dual-use detergents on the increase it's harder to find detergent meant only for agitator top-loaders.You'll see four in our Ratings, along with dozens of HE and dual-use detergents in liquid, powder,and pod form.

Pods are convenient and some we tested are impressive at cleaning, but they're a serious health hazard for young children. From January through November 2015, poison-control centers nationwide received 11,552 reports of children 5 and younger ingesting or inhaling pods, or getting pod contents on their skin or in their eyes, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. As early as 2012 Consumer Reports called on manufacturers to make pods safer, and many repsonded posivitely by switching from clear to opague plastic containers and, on some,adding child-resistant latches.

But too many children are still getting their hands on pods. Given this continued danger, we have decided not to include pods on our list of recommended detergents. None were impressive enough in the latest tests to make the cut, but some have been in the past. And we strongly urge households where children younger than 6 are ever present to skip pods altogether. See this story for more details.

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