Laundry Products That Waste Loads of Money
The worst washers, dryers, and detergents from Consumer Reports' tests
Consumer Reports’ tough tests continue to find that some laundry detergents clean only slightly better than water—and that some washers use lots of water yet leave clothes dirty and dingy. Some dryers have a tough time doing their job, too, taking longer than usual to completely dry a load.
Such unimpressive performance means that you'll be throwing money down the drain by doing extra loads and running up your energy bill.
Laundry appliances that don't stand the test of time will cost you, too. That’s why we incorporate lab test results, predicted reliability, and owner satisfaction into one Overall Score in our ratings of washers and dryers.
Here's a quick look at the models and products that don't quite cut it, to put it mildly, in our tests of washing machines, clothes dryers, and laundry detergents.
The Electrolux EFLW317TlW, $765, is currently the lowest-rated model of the dozens of full-sized front-loaders we tested. It earns a Very Good rating in washing performance but is the roughest on fabrics, earning a Poor rating in gentleness. It's also the noisiest and vibrates more than many models we've tested.
In addition to performance, we also rate washers on how reliable they are, based on results from our exclusive member survey. For reliability, Asko and Whirlpool compact front-loaders earn Poor ratings, so CR does not recommend these brands.
Any dryer will get the job done—eventually. But a money-wasting dryer might take longer, use higher heat, or even overdry laundry. All of this is harder on fabrics and uses more energy.
Models toward the bottom of our ratings earn just a middling Good rating in drying performance. The LG WM3997HWA, $1,800, is even worse, earning just a Fair rating for the job. It's an all-in-one washer/ventless dryer machine.
In terms of how reliable dryers are, Fisher & Paykel scores the lowest, according to data from our member survey. Full-sized electric dryers from this brand earn only a Fair rating for reliability, and CR doesn’t recommend them. Fisher & Paykel's gas dryers earn a Fair rating for brand reliability, and Hotpoint's earn a Poor rating. Our dryer ratings offer all the details.
Compact dryers sold today are electric, not gas. In our survey, Asko and Blomberg compact dryers get knocked for reliability, earning a Fair rating, so CR cannot recommend them.
With laundry detergents, you can waste money a couple of ways. Now that detergent is concentrated, it's easy to use too much if you don’t measure it. This can also waste water, because a surplus of suds can cause the washer to extend the rinse cycle.
And then there are detergents that are no match for common stains, such as body oil or dirt, including Arm & Hammer for Sensitive Skin, Era 3X Oxibooster, Gain Original, Purex Natural Elements, Sun Triple Clean, and Tide Simply Clean & Fresh.
You'll find much better options in our laundry detergent ratings.
Should You Wash Clothes in Hot Water?
Think your clothes come out cleaner with hot water? Consumer Reports' appliance expert, Emilio Gonzalez, explains to "Consumer 101" TV show host Jack Rico why it might not be necessary to wash clothes at a higher temperature.