5 On Your Side

Consumer Reports cleans up laundry detergent

Posted March 15, 2012 5:00 p.m. EDT
Updated March 15, 2012 6:58 p.m. EDT

— An industry trade group says that consumers use twice the amount of detergent that they should, according to Consumer Reports.

Many detergents are now super-concentrated, which means they have less water and less is needed in the washing machine.

Most people, however, ignore the hard-to-see fill lines on detergent caps or pour the detergent directly into the washing machine, Consumer Reports says, wasting detergent and money.

Too much detergent also makes the rinse cycle longer, costing consumers even more money.

To make matters even more unclear, different concentrated detergent brands can contain widely different levels of detergent.

"It turns out there's no standard definition for what these concentrations mean. It's only twice as concentrated when you compare within the same brand," said Celia Lehrman of Consumer Reports.

In order to use the correct amount of detergent for the size of the load, Consumer Reports advises tracing the fill lines with a permanent marker to make them easier to see.

Consumer Reports recommends two different detergents: Wisk Deep Clean for top-load washing machines, and Target's Up and Up HE Fresh Breeze for front-load machines. The Target detergent costs only 11 cents per load, but only if the right amount is used.