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What's behind our laundry detergent Ratings?

Experts at our National Testing and Research Center tested 55 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, body oil, and tea. Displayed scores are rounded; products are listed in order of precise overall score.
  • Type
    Detergent type: Liquid or Powder.
  • Washer type
    Indicates detergent is recommended for "All" washers (High Efficiency and Conventional) or just for "HE" - High Efficiency Washers.
  • Body oil
    Indicates how well a detergent removes body oil or "Sebum".
  • Dirt
    Indicates how well a detergent removes dirt or "Clay".
  • Grass
    Indicates how well a detergent removes grass stains.
  • Other stains
    Indicates how well a detergent removed various other stains, including "Blood", "Chocolate Ice Cream", "Wine" and "Tea".


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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.

Recently reviewed laundry detergents

ProClean Power-Liquid Sensitive Skin
This premium priced liquid detergent from Henkel is formulated for use in both high efficiency (HE) and conventional washing machines.

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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