You know your life isn't what it should be when you have to use a flashlight to find the appropriate fill line on the inside of a laundry detergent cap. The markings tell you how much detergent to use. When you can't see them or they're confusing, you can end up dumping too much detergent into your washing machine. That sudsy surplus can lead to all sorts of problems including prolonged rinse cycles and money wasted on both detergent and water.
Consumer Reports' experts are testing laundry detergents to find the best performance and best values. When a staffer reached for a flashlight to figure out how much liquid Purex Plus Oxi to use, we knew there had to be an easier way. "We've seen this problem before with Purex and other detergents," says Pat Slaven, an engineer and textile expert who runs the tests. "But thankfully more manufacturers are redesigning their caps for easier use." The caps may have several fill lines for different load sizes and machine types. If your cap isn't crystal clear, follow label directions. Use a marker to highlight fill lines, and measure, don't just pour. Single-dose detergents do away with this pesky problem but some are pricey.
Here's a money saver. Try one of the CR Best Buys from our laundry detergent tests, such as Tide Ultra HE. This powder costs 16 cents per load and is for front-loaders and high-efficiency top-loaders. For standard top-loaders consider Up & UP Ultra Concentrated, a powder. It's 10 cents a load and sold at Target. For a penny more per load, Target also sells Up & Up HE Fresh Breeze, a liquid for high-efficiency machines.