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Consumer Reports Spills The Dirt On Laundry Detergents

DETROIT (WWJ) - Using too much concentrated laundry detergent can wash its benefits away. Consumer Reports looked closely at products from All, Era, Purex, Tide and Xtra and uncovered unclear instructions and inconsistent cap measurements that make using too much detergent easy to do and can drive up laundry costs.

Consumer Reports found it's often unclear how much detergent is needed to get the job done right and it can be easy to use too much.

For example, the fill line in the cap of one All detergent was only visible extremely close up, and two of the fill lines in a cap from Era were only about one-sixteenth inch apart, making accurate dosing a difficult feat. Using more than the label calls for not only wastes money, but can also prolong the rinse cycle and require more rinse water as some washing machines keep going when the water is too sudsy.

Concentrated laundry detergents – 2X, 3X, and even 8X – have less water and other non-essential ingredients than conventional products. Most consumers don't realize that the "X" is often tied to a previous formulation of the very same detergent, so 2X would give equal performance as the previous detergent while using half the dose.

Also, the "X" does not apply to different models of the same brand or for comparisons across brands. For example, a 50-ounce bottle of Era 2X Ultra doses 32 loads, two more than the same size Tide Plus Febreze, whose bottle makes no Ultra or X claim. And 32 ounces of 3X Ultra All does 28 loads.

Until the measuring lines on laundry detergent caps are well-defined, Consumer Reports recommends following the directions on the product's label. Use a marker to highlight fill lines, and measure, just don't pour. For a front-loading washer or high-efficiency top-loader, use HE detergents – others may produce too much suds.

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