Doing laundry is hardly a task people look forward to, but like most other household chores, it’s a must. And to add insult to injury, there’s no escaping the fact that you’ll be spending at least some money on the products you need to get the job done. But how much money you spend, of course, is up to you. That’s why it’s imperative to do your research.
Because we know that time is money, and most folks don’t have loads of either, we wanted to get the ball rolling for you. Arm yourself with the consumer knowledge you need, and your time spent in the laundry lair will be far less pricey.
To kick things off, let’s first take a quick look at how this list came to be.
1. Laundry product rankings from Consumer Reports
When it comes to knowing your products, Consumer Reports is where it’s at. Thanks to an article that grants the general public access to important consumer-facing information, we can all keep abreast of what types of laundry room products we shouldn’t be buying. “With laundry detergents, you can waste money in a couple of ways,” CR explains. “Detergents that don’t clean 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.”
The detergents called out by CR, which we’ll get to next, scored 40 or less out of 100, and they were “no match for common stains from body, oil, dirt, and grass.” So, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get on to the specifics.
Next: These are the absolute worst detergents money can buy.
2. Xtra ScentSations
Price per load: $0.12
CR lists this detergent as highly inefficient, claiming that it “cleaned only slightly better than plain water” among liquid detergents. Ouch. Is it worth the money? Not likely. Although it’s a budget detergent, its pitfalls don’t make up for the cheap price point.
Next: This detergent comes from one of our favorite grocery stores of all time.
3. Trader Joe’s Liquid Laundry HE
Price per load: $0.08
Looks like CR puts Trader Joe’s detergent in the same category as the one above. Once again, the company sites this product as being only slightly better than plain water. While the $0.08 is true to Trader Joe’s affordable pricing model, you may be better off with something a bit more reliable. We’ll get to those suggestions in just a minute.
Next: This premium detergent isn’t worth its price tag.
4. Woolite Everyday
Price per load: $0.28
While Woolite Everyday is admittedly more expensive than the previous products, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better quality. And according to CR’s ratings, it’s not worth the money.
Next: A lesser-known detergent brand name is up next.
5. Home Solv 2X Concentrated
Price per load: $0.20
This detergent is probably the furthest from a recognizable household name, but that doesn’t mean it’s immune from making the not-worth-the-money list. Sorry, “premium independent brand liquid detergent.” You’re at the bottom of the list.
Next: We’re back to the super cheap stuff, and you’ll get what you pay for.
6. Xtra Plus OxiClean
Price per load: $0.06
Is this product super cheap? Yes. But is it worth it to spend a little extra to get a better result? Absolutely. Church & Dwight loves making inexpensive products, but some fall short — including another on our list, Xtra ScentSations. There’s not much to say about this one, except for this: You really do get what you pay for, and CR recommends steering clear of this one.
Next: This one’s even cheaper than the Xtra Plus OxiClean.
7. Sun Triple Clean
Price per load: $0.05
At only five cents a pop, the luring powers of this budget brand are hard to resist. CR, however, recommends that you do. Apparently, this stuff isn’t worthy enough to score a spot on the nice list.
Next: A detergent pack makes the list.
8. Arm & Hammer Toss ‘N Done Ultra Power Paks
Price per load: $0.21
Although they’re listed as “premium powder detergent packs,” CR doesn’t think you should waste your money on them. In fact, according to the company, “Arm & Hammer Toss ‘N Done Ultra Power Paks are the lowest scoring of the pods/packs we tested.” So, there you have it, these guys are the worst in class.
Next: And now for the best in show
9. Tide Plus Ultra Stain Release and Persil ProClean Power-Liquid 2in1
Price per load: $0.25 (pricing is the same for both detergents)
Turns out, there are two clear detergent front-runners, Tide and Persil, which isn’t all that surprising. In fact, both have earned their keep in the laundry product-making game. Once again, the two reign supreme in their performance, scoring almost identically (although, Tide won by a very, very tiny margin).
“Both Tide Plus Ultra Stain Release and Persil ProClean Power-Liquid 2in1 were excellent, earning the same overall score that’s high enough to make them recommended,” CR reports. “Both liquid detergents were the best tested at removing body oil, dirt, and grass stains, and they even removed more of the blood, chocolate, wine, and tea stains than other detergents in our tests.” Yep, we’d say we’re sticking with one of these two from now on.
So, now that we’ve gotten the detergent products out of the way, let’s take a look at how washing machines measure up.
Next: These washers earned a score of 39 or lower.
10. Worst front-loading washing machine: Electrolux EFLW417SlW
This model was among the worst in the washing machine category — and for good reason. While CR claims it did a fantastic job of cleaning — its one and only job, really — the machine was also tough on fabrics. Furthermore, the machine wasn’t efficient at extracting water, which means more work for the dryer.
Next: Are high-efficiency machines any better?
11. Poor high-efficiency top-loading washers
Two machines did an OK job, but failed to excel overall. According to CR, both the Frigidaire Affinity FAHE4045QW ($720) and the Affinity FAHE1011MW ($700) did a great job at cleaning. However, both machines used about two times the water as the most efficient high-efficiency top-loaders, and they were much rougher on fabrics.
Next: The absolute worst in the category
12. Worst high-efficiency top-loading washer: Samsung WA40J3000AW
As CR said, “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.” Avoid this model at all cost.
Next: Let’s move on to the best-in-class agitator machine.
13. Best agitator top-loading washer: Kenmore 22242
Agitator washing machines are rated on several criteria, including washing performance, energy efficiency, and water efficiency. And according to CR, the top-rated machine in its class is the Kenmore 22242. So, if you’re in a market for an affordable machine, this one’s for you, so long as you don’t mind a little extra noise.
Next: Find out the three worst agitator machines.
14. Worst agitator top-loading washers
Where there’s a first, there must also be a last. And in CR’s ratings, there are a handful of agitator top-loaders that fall short. In particular, the Whirlpool WTW4816FW($450), the Amana NTW4516FW ($300), and the Roper RTW4516FW ($275) earned themselves the lowest scores in the category. Largely, their poor ratings were due to stains left on fabrics and excess amounts of water used.
Next: These two dryers are a total waste of money.
15. Worst dryers
With an overall score of only 14 out of 100, both the LG WM3997HWA ($1,740) and the Kenmore Elite 41002 ($1,500) were the worst of the dryers tested by CR. But what is it exactly that makes on dryer far worse than another? According to CR, “Any dryer will get the job done, eventually. But a money-wasting dryer might take longer, use higher heat, or over-dry laundry when you want clothes a bit damp. All of this is harder on fabrics and uses more energy.”
So, there you have it, folks. Those are the absolute worst and least cost-effective laundry products you can buy. Now all you have to do is stay far, far away from them.