Consumer Reports' tests have revealed laundry detergents that clean only slightly better than water, washers that use lots of water yet leave clothes dingy and dirty, and dryers that have a tough time doing their job, too, taking longer than normal to complete a load.

Such unimpressive performance results in you throwing money down the drain. 

To help you steer clear of laundry products that don't work as promised, here's a list of the worst laundry products from our tests—they scored 40 or lower overall out of 100. 

Check our buying guide and ratings for washing machines, dryers, and laundry detergents.

Washing Machines

These washers earned only a fair score overall, with a score of 39 or lower in our tests. And while some of the prices are appealing, there are better choices in our washing machine ratings, often for the same price.

Front-Loading Washing Machines
The bottom-rated Electrolux EFLW417SlW, $600, did a superb job cleaning but was tough on fabrics and didn't extract as much water as the others—that means the dryer runs longer to dry the load.

High-Efficiency Top-Loading Washers 
The Frigidaire Affinity FAHE4045QW, $720, was very good at cleaning, and the Affinity FAHE1011MW, $700, did an excellent job. But they used about twice as much water as the most efficient HE top-loaders and didn't extract much of that water, and were rougher on fabrics than most. The Samsung WA40J3000AW, $500, used even more water than the Frigidaire washers and still left a lot of stains on fabrics, putting it at the bottom of the HE top-loader ratings

Agitator Top-Loading Washers 
Agitator washers usually cost $500 or less, including the top-rated Kenmore 22242, $480. The worst from our tests left many of the stains on our test fabrics, while using more water than a number of the other agitator machines—helping to put the Whirlpool WTW4816FW, $450; Amana NTW4516FW, $300; and Roper RTW4516FW, $275, at the bottom of the agitator washer ratings

Clothes Dryers

Any dryer will get the job done, eventually. But a money-wasting dryer might take longer, use higher heat, or overdry laundry when you want clothes a bit damp. All of this is harder on fabrics and uses more energy. Among electric dryers, the Frigidaire Affinity FARE1011MW, $630, is one of the worst at drying, scoring 32 overall (out of 100). The LG WM3997HWA, $1,740, and the Kenmore Elite 41002, $1,500, were even worst at drying, scoring 14 overall in our tests. Both the LG and Kenmore are all-in-one washer/dryer machines. For more details see "An All-in-One Washer/Dryer Can Do it All, If You Give It Time." 

Laundry Detergents

With laundry detergents, you can waste money in a couple of ways. Detergents that don't clean well might require you to redo a load. And, if you don't measure the detergent beforehand, you might end up using more than you need.

Scoring 40 or less in our tests, these detergents were no match for common stains from body oil, dirt, and grass. You'll find much better detergents at comparable prices in our laundry detergent ratings.

Among liquid detergents, Xtra ScentSations and Trader Joe’s Liquid Laundry HE detergent cleaned only slightly better than plain water. You can also skip Woolite Everyday, Home Solv 2X Concentrated, Xtra Plus OxiClean, and Sun Triple CleanArm & Hammer Toss ‘N Done Ultra Power Paks are the lowest scoring of the pods/packs we tested.