Wisk, Kirkland give Tide laundry detergent a run for the money

Tide is a perennial powerhouse in Consumer Reports' laundry detergent Ratings. This year is no different, with the Procter & Gamble brand accounting for five of nine recommended detergents. But detergents from Wisk and Kirkland Signature, the Costco exclusive, are challenging Tide's supremacy. In fact, when it comes to conventional detergents and the increasingly popular single-use pods, which can be used in both standard and high-efficiency machines, Tide has to settle to second best. Here are the details.

You might have seen the online ad for Wisk detergent, in which a crusading "mockumentary" filmmaker declares a "state of detegency" over invisible sweat and body oil stains. Wisk Deep Clean Free & Pure HE made good on its promise to vanquish these stains, delivering the top score in our tough ring-around-the-collar test. And it costs almost 10 cents less per load than the top-rated Tide Ultra plus Bleach Vivid White + Bright.

Among conventional detergents, Wisk Deep Clean is our highest-rated detergent, just beating out Tide Plus Bleach Alternative Vivid White + Bright. Though it missed our recommended list, Tide for Cold Water is a good choice if you want to save energy by washing your clothes in cold water.

Now let's talk pods, the latest thing in laundry detergent. Last year, Tide Pods were the only single-use detergent to earn our recommendation. It's a pick again this year, but behind Costco's Kirkland Signature Ultra Clean Pacs, which perform slightly better while costing 8 cents less per load. A word of caution to consumers with young children: poison control centers continue to receive hundreds of calls each month concerning kids 5 years or younger ingesting the pods or spraying them into their eyes. It's imperative to keep pods out of children's reach, and call the poison-control help line immediately at 800-222-1222 if a child comes into contact with them.

Our latest report also looked into green detergents. Be wary of terms like "natural" and "earth friendly," which manufacturers often toss around even though there's no federal standard governing them. A better green bet is the Seventh Generation Natural Laundry Detergent, which is USDA-certified to contain at least 95 percent renewable ingredients. While the powder detergents misses our top picks list, it delivers very good cleaning overall, especially against grass and blood.

—Daniel DiClerico

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