Detergents put to test: Which is best?

LOS ANGELES Some of the cheaper detergents actually do as good a job - if not a better one - at removing stains.

Project Runway's /*Tim Gunn*/ is touting Tide's latest edition, /*Tide TotalCare*/. So Consumer Reports wanted to see if Tide TotalCare delivered on its promise. Testers washed three brand new cotton dresses 30 times; one in Tide TotalCare, another in /*All Small & Mighty*/, and another in /*Tide Coldwater 2X Ultra*/.

Pat Slaven from Consumer Reports then compared the new dress to the washed ones.

"The dress washed with All faded compared to the dress washed with Tide TotalCare," said Slaven.

The dress washed in Tide Coldwater 2X Ultra looks about the same as the Tide TotalCare dress, but that detergent costs about half as much. And the cheaper 2X Ultra also did a better job getting out stains in Consumer Reports' stain-removal tests.

In all, more than 40 detergents were evaluated. Testers washed more than 1,500 cotton squares stained with hard-to-clean substances like red wine, grass, blood and chocolate. In the end, Consumer Reports named two best buys that will tear through tough stains and save you some money, too.

For conventional top-loading washers, try Tide Coldwater 2X Ultra. For high-efficiency front-loaders, Consumer Reports recommends /*Ultra Cheer Color Guard 2X Concentrated*/.

To save more money, wash your laundry in cold water instead of warm. Consumer Reports says with a conventional top-loader, that can reduce your energy costs by $60 a year.

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