When we first heard that big orange bottles of Tide laundry detergent were ending up on the black market, we thought it was an urban myth. But turns out, the National Retail Federation called out Tide as one of the products most targeted for shoplifting. Seven varieties of Tide also made a list at Consumer Reports but for very different reasons. They're top performers in our tests, which may partially explain the rising tide of thefts.
Because it has strong brand cred, the stolen Tide is being traded on the street for drugs, according to an investigation by New York magazine. "There's a consumer impression that using Tide is better than using Acme soap or Brand X," James Burnett, the magazine's news editor, said on The Takeaway on WNYC. "There's anecdotal evidence that when people lose their jobs, the last thing they part with is their Tide. It's somewhat of a symbol of domestic tranquility."
New York said that when reporters contacted Procter & Gamble about the thefts, the company didn't seem overly concerned. "It's unfortunate that people are stealing Tide, and I don't think it's appropriate at all, but the one thing it reminds me of is that the value of the brand has stayed consistent," Sundar Raman, the marketing director of Procter & Gamble's North American fabric-care division, told the magazine.
In Consumer Reports laundry detergent tests, six types of Tide for high-efficiency washing machines made our list of top picks. Another variety made our list of detergents recommended for conventional washing machines. The Tide liquid, powder and pods were very good to excellent at removing stains from heavily soiled fabric including blood, mud, chocolate ice cream, grass, red wine, tea and ring-around-the-collar.
As police across the country collar shoplifters for lugging away those bulky bottles, we'd like to recommend that you get your Tide the old-fashioned way—by paying at the checkout. At only 16 to 23 cents per load, it's worth it. And we have to come clean about the rest of the detergents in our tests—many of them are also very good and some cost a lot less.
—Mary H.J. Farrell