Laundry detergents that make confounding food claims

Consumer Reports News: May 06, 2013 02:08 PM

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Things are getting a bit messy in the detergent aisle. More laundry detergent containers are starting to resemble food packaging, of all things, and if that doesn't throw you the labels might—gluten-free and vegan claims? Consumer Reports' latest laundry detergent tests found some clear winners and some confusing containers.

Rockin' Green Classic Rock powder detergent was mediocre at cleaning in our tests, but its gluten free and vegan claims stood out. Gluten is used as a "filler" agent in detergents and although celiac patients don't have to avoid touching gluten, some people with gluten sensitivities may benefit from avoiding contact, says Jessica Krant, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City and a member of Consumer Reports' medical advisory board. "People with unusual skin rashes or irritations may be reacting to a gluten sensitivity without knowing it," says Dr. Krant, adding that manufacturers aren't required to list gluten on home or personal care products. As for the vegan claim, the Federal Trade Commission hasn't defined vegan for any products and the only rationale we found on Rockin' Green's website is a statement that it doesn't test its products on animals.

Back to the bottles. Ology 2X HE liquid detergent was also mediocre at cleaning but the bottle caught our attention. It reminded us of maple syrup. And then there are the large clear containers that look more like a cookie or candy jar but are filled with brightly colored liquid detergent pods, such as the Tide Pods and Kirkland Signature Ultra Clean Pacs (both recommended detergents). They're eye-catching and might look tempting to children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that exposure to laundry detergent pods, especially among kids ages five or younger, is an emerging public health hazard. Always store these products out of sight and reach of children.

The bottom line. Tide Ultra plus Bleach Vivid White + Bright powder was the best of the 78 detergents we tested. It's for high-efficiency top-loaders and front-loaders and was superb at cleaning in both warm and cool water, but it's the most expensive of the recommended detergents. Wisk Deep Clean is our top pick for conventional top-loaders and scored very good overall on cleaning. To find the best detergent for your washer type, check the results of our laundry detergent tests where we have winners in powders, liquids and pods/packs.

Kimberly Janeway

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