5 things you should never use as laundry detergent

Want clean clothes? Don't use these detergents.

Credit: Reviewed.com / Jonathan Chan
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Here at Reviewed, we’ve tested more than 300 washing machines. And in the quest for clean laundry, we’ve also tested some of the laundry products that go along with them, from detergents, to bleaches, to some innovative, less conventional solutions.

We’ve got a good idea of what works well: detergents Persil and Tide do the best job removing stains, and OxiClean is a more effective bleach than Clorox.

If you prefer using a more eco-friendly detergent, you’ll be pleased to hear that Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Laundry Detergent cleans about 96% as well as regular Tide. And a hybrid, partially plant-based version of Tide called Tide PurClean gave us an excellent clean in our tests.

We understand that everyone's standards for clean laundry are different. Toddlers probably don't notice if they have stains on their clothes. But adult clothing generally needs to be clean and fresh. And some of the products we tested just didn't clean clothes nearly as well as their conventional counterparts. In fact, we found a few that you should absolutely avoid.

1. Eco Nuts

EcoNuts
Credit: Reviewed.com / Jonathan Chan

These natural soap nuts, from a tree in the genus Sapindus, are little nuggets that give off some modest suds when wet. They are cheap and reusable—but when we tried them out, they just didn't clean well. And they leave odors in laundry. Too bad!

2. Crystal Wash

Crystal-Wash-test
Credit: Reviewed.com / Jonathan Chan

The “bioceramics” in Crystal Wash are supposed to clean by increasing the pH of water. But after testing it in our labs, we were unconvinced. We found that this product didn't remove stains. It was no improvement over washing clothes in plain water. We don't think you should buy it.

3. DIY detergents

DIY-detergent-ingredients
Credit: Reviewed.com / Jonathan Chan

Some of our top-rated detergents are admittedly very expensive. (Though our third place detergent, Arm & Hammer, stood out for being affordable.)

So, to save money, many do-it-yourselfers make their own laundry soap. They put it together from ingredients that may include borax, washing soda, Fels Naptha soap and Dawn dishwashing liquid. None of the DIY detergents we made and tested in our labs cleaned well. In addition, borax may have negative health effects. Skip this.

4. Tide Buzz

Tide-Buzz
Credit: Reviewed.com / Brendan Nystedt

This ultrasonic stain remover worked only slightly to reduce stains like body oil, carbon, blood, chocolate, and wine. Plus, it requires you to buy a special cleaning fluid to dissolve stains. We don't think it's worth your money.

5. Ecos Free & Clear

Ecos-Free&Clear-Laundry-Detergent
Credit: Walmart

The least effective detergent we’ve ever tested, it didn’t remove any stains. Ecos Free & Clear was the 98-pound weakling of the bunch. Although it has many positive online reviews, our tests lead us to believe that your laundry deserves a better detergent.

Here's what you should do instead

While we’re on the subject, there are some laundry techniques you may be using that aren’t working as well as you might think. Don’t add an extra bucket of water to a modern washing machine. It doesn’t get clothes any cleaner. It actually dilutes the detergent, and minimizes the mechanical action of the clothes rubbing against the tub or the agitator. Not an effective way to get laundry cleaner.

Don't-add-more-water
Credit: Reviewed.com / Jonathan Chan
Adding an extra bucket of water to your washer won't give you cleaner clothes.

And finally, the washing machine you use matters a great deal. We’ve tested some excellent ones, both front-loaders and top-loaders, that do an awesome job removing stains. We’ve also encountered our share of disappointments, notably with one long-lasting serious cult favorite that might have been the queen of the laundry room. Sad to say, old school agitator machines don't always win the battle for clean laundry.

If you’re buying a washer in the near future, these are the best washing machines we tested in 2017. Assuming that you use a hard-working detergent, these laundry machines will do the best job cleaning your clothes.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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