Here's something of a novelty:
A recent study of laundry detergents by Consumer Reports found that some of the best stain fighters were also among the least expensive, including wallet-friendly warehouse-store brands Member's Mark and Kirkland.
In an article in its August issue, Consumer Reports said that while Tide Ultra Stain Release earned the highest score, Member's Mark Ultimate Clean, a Sam's Club exclusive, and Costco's Kirkland Signature Ultra Clean performed very well overall.
Each costs about half the price of the top-rated Tide per load.
Though some cheaper detergents performed better overall, "we found duds in every price category," said Dan DiClerico, senior editor at Consumer Reports. "Even top-performing brand Tide missed the mark with its budget detergent failing to remove blood, grass and ring around the collar in our tough tests."
Consumer Reports also tested pods and packs, single-load detergents that eliminate the need for measuring.
None made the recommended list, but All Mighty Pacs Oxi, 17 cents per load, handled most stains, while Tide Pods, 22 cents per load, also performed very well overall.
The magazine reports that since pods went mainstream in 2012, poison-control centers have received more than 20,000 calls about incidents involving children age 5 or younger, so you need to keep them out of little ones' reach.
How can you choose the right detergent:
Match the detergent to the washer. Dual-use-detergents tend to perform better in high-efficiency (HE) washing machines, which don't use as much water to dilute the detergent. Never use standard detergent in a HE machine, as it will cause excessive suds.
Liquid, powder, or packet. Liquids dissolve easily, so they leave no residue. Powders are more compatible with bleaching agents, which can improve cleaning power. Single-load packets are convenient and prevent overdosing.
Check the cap. Look at the measuring marks, especially with liquids.