Saving money on major appliances and kitchen countertops can take some sleuthing but who doesn't like discovering a deal? Good timing helps. Watch for major retailers to discount refrigerators, laundry appliances, and more around Memorial Day. Our own digital digging turned up six ways to save.
Our washing test for dishwashers is grueling, with 10 place settings slathered with egg yolks, peanut butter, raspberry jam, and other goo left to harden overnight before we run a cycle. We expect a range of results from utterly spotless dishes to those with bits of food still stuck to them. What we didn't expect was a load of items that stayed dirty because the soap dispenser didn't open.
The past few years have been tough for fans of Oreck vacuums, air purifiers, and other home cleaning products.The iconic brand that introduced lightweight upright vacuums to the market 50 years ago was not as successful with its newer products and last week the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Now it's trying to shore up its finances as Thomas Oreck attempts to buy back the company his father founded and revitalize its product line.
For as long as we've been testing laundry detergent pods—those convenient, single-use packets—only Tide Pods have cleaned well enough to make our winner's list. But there's a new top pod in our tests of laundry detergents, and it costs about 30 percent less than Tide Pods. The only catch is you'll need a Costco membership to find it. And if you have kids at home, special safety precautions are a must.
Q: I use disinfectant spray in the bathroom to kill bacteria and other germs. Do bacteria build up resistance to disinfectants like they develop resistance to antibiotics? —John Huxhold Manchester, MO
When you choose a product that's easier on the environment there's often a trade-off, such as a higher price or lower performance. Take washers, for example. Front-loaders use less water and extract more of it than top-loaders, but typically take longer. That's why the Maytag Maxima and Whirlpool Duet front-loaders Consumer Reports just tested turned our heads. They did an excellent job in 45 minutes.
Things are getting a bit messy in the detergent aisle. More laundry detergent containers are starting to resemble food packaging, of all things, and if that doesn't throw you the labels might—gluten-free and vegan claims? Consumer Reports' latest laundry detergent tests found some clear winners and some confusing containers.
GE has added two new assembly lines to its plant in Appliance Park and for the first time will manufacture front-loading washing machines and their matching dryers in the U.S. The folks in Louisville, Kentucky are happy because the move creates 200 new jobs. The matching machines are GE's new RightHeight models, which are elevated on seven-inch risers to reduce the back-bending job of doing laundry.
Some vacuuming tasks like spilled Cheerios or the dirt the dog dragged in are too small to break out the big upright or canister vacuum. And for homeowners tight on storage space, a smaller vacuum may be all you can accommodate. That's why, in addition to Consumer Reports tests of large vacuums, we're just wrapping up our testing of 20 smaller hand and stick vacuums that range in price from $30 to $400.
Many infomercial products aren't worth more than the time you spend watching the frantic pitches. But three that we've tested combine good performance and real value: Lint Lizard, Ninja Master Prep Professional blender, and Ooma.
Q: My wife and I are moving our laundry from the basement to the top floor of our three-story condo. What are the pros and cons of using a venting or non-venting dryer? Which is preferable?—Vic White Park City, UT
It's been a century since the first Kenmore sewing machine gave birth to a new brand, probably named after Kenmore Avenue in Chicago. Now controlled by Sears Holding Corporation, the Kenmore brand is on an array of appliances, including dishwashers, refrigerators, and washing machines. Earlier today, Consumer Reports was on hand for the 100th anniversary media event in New York City. For all the innovations on display, it was also apparent that, when it comes to appliance design, what goes around comes around. Here are three ways:
When it comes to household chores, windows cleaning ranks right up there with, well, window cleaning. There's a reason many people who clean homes for a living tell you they don't do windows, and if they do, you can expect to pay extra for the work.
Front-loading washers are tops at cleaning clothes and saving energy, but they can be magnets for mold—and its slimy stench—as water collects around the rubber door gasket. Just ask the 200,000 Ohio consumers whose action against Whirlpool was bounced back to an appeals court after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it didn't meet the requirements of a class action suit. Whirlpool claimed the class action was inappropriate because the mold problem affected fewer than three percent of its washers. Fortunately, as our testers discovered at Consumer Reports, there are ways to solve a moldy washer problem without going to court.
If you hate to iron then imagine being a steam iron tester at Consumer Reports. To find the best irons, our testers iron basket after basket of dry, wrinkled linen tablecloths day after day. The fewer the passes needed to smooth out the cloth, the better the iron scores. The irons that emit the most steam tend to do the best job. In fact, in our tests of more than 50 steam irons, we found that most models that cost $30 or less are no bargain, producing far less steam than the models on our list of top steam iron picks.
Our testers put 100s of products through their paces at our National Testing and Research Center. Learn more about how we test for: