Tide Ultra plus Bleach Vivid White + Bright HE, 23 cents per load. In our tough laundry detergent tests, this Tide powder had superb cleaning performance in both warm and cool water, even surpassing the cleaning performance of its less-expensive brandmate, Tide Ultra HE powder (18 cents per load), among other detergents intended for front-loading or high-efficiency top-loading washing machines. At only 14 cents per load, second-place Wisk Deep Clean was the top liquid and third place Kirkland Signature Ultra Clean Pacs (Costco) was the top laundry pod/pack. They both offered very good cleanability in both warm and cold water—and like the top pick Tide, had very good performance at removing grass, blood, and “ring-around-the-collar” stains. For standard top-loaders, top pick Tide Plus Bleach Alternative Vivid White + Bright was very good at cleaning in warm water and removing grass and ring-around-the-collar stains.
Pine-Sol Original all-purpose cleaner, $2.48 per bottle. Pine-Sol, the only brand recommended by Consumer Reports in our most recent tests of all-purpose cleaners, beat out two other liquids and 16 sprays, including some green products. At only nine cents per ounce, it was one of the least expensive cleaners in our tests, earning CR Best Buy status. In our lab-tests, it was very good at removing grease, grape juice, ketchup and mustard stains from glass, ceramic and metal tiles. It also did a very good job at removing soap scum and was the only cleaner in the batch that didn't leave streaks behind on a mirrored surface.
Lemi Shine Original, $3.66. In our tests of dishwasher detergent additives, Lemi Shine Original worked splendidly at removing the worst filmy white coating that often builds up on glassware due to hard water. And it beat out the other dishwasher detergent additives we put to the test on price. To help resist white film buildup in the first place, pick a top dishwasher detergent.
Cascade Complete ActionPacs, 29 cents per load. These dishwasher detergent action pacs were excellent at resisting mineral buildup and water spots while getting pots clean. It also did a very good job at getting dishes clean and resisting food deposits. Too pricey? At 18 cents per load, Finish Powerball Tabs were a CR Best Buy and did a superb job cleaning dishes and resisting water spots and mineral buildup, and a very good job of resisting food deposits.