The Laundry List: Best Washers, Dryers and Detergents

It's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it: laundry.

Thanks to Consumer Reports, consumers can save time, money and even the earth while getting rid of those nasty stains.

Consumer Reports senior project editor Mandy Walker joined "Good Morning America" with the results of the magazine's most recent tests of detergent, washers and dryers.

Laundry Is a Dirty Job
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Consumer Reports looked at how effective the washers were at removing stains while retaining color and tested dryers to see if all clothes were dried thoroughly. The report not only examined effectiveness, it also looked at efficiency, both interms of cost and energy.

After laundering 5,000 soiled swatches, a total of 5,800 pounds of laundry, Consumer Reports published its findings. You can see the results below.

Detergents

Best Conventional Detergent: Tide 2X Ultra for Cold Water

At 19 cents per load -- about $80 less per year than pricier detergents -- Tide 2X Ultra for Cold Water got out grass and other top stains. It is best used in a standard top-loading washer and since it is made to use in cold water, it will save $60 per year in energy costs, which combines for a total of $140 in savings for an excellent detergent.

Best Green Detergent: Simplicity Hypoallergenic Non-toxic 2X

Simplicity Hypoallergenic Non-toxic 2X costs 17 cents per load, is best used in a top-loader, and cleans well. It is considered "green" because it is made with plant-based rather than petroleum-based ingredients.

About its "hypoallergenic" status, it is important for consumers to know that manufacturers can make those claims without meeting any federal standards. In fact, the safety warning on this detergent says that it can cause eye, skin or respiratory irritation.

Most Efficient Detergent: Cheer 2X Ultra Color Guard

Consumer Reports recommends Cheer 2X Ultra Color Guard. At only 17 cents per load, the Cheer detergent cleaned clothes thoroughly and offered the most value. It is used in front-loading machines.

Detergent Caps

It may seem strange to test detergent caps, but one of the keys to being economical is using the right amount of detergent. The cap is used to measure detergent and some caps are easier to read than others.

Some caps are opaque making them difficult to read, and could make pouring too much detergent easier. We contacted All about its opaque caps and the company said, in part, that in addition to the fill lines, there is a clear illustration on the back of the bottle as to how much to use.

Washing Machines

Best Top-Loading: Maytag MVWC6ES

This Maytag model performed well for gentleness, capacity and vibration, and it's also water and energy efficient. At $500, this top loader is the least expensive overall.

Loading these models with clothes or adding items mid-cycle is easier than in machines without an agitator, however overall, they don't perform as well in our test as front-loaders, can be relatively noisy, and the loads can become unbalanced.

Best Front-Loading: General Electric WBVH5300

Consumer Reports tested the GE WBVH52, which performed very well in tests for washing and gentleness and was excellent for capacity, and water and energy efficiency. Vibration ranked fair, which is only a concern if the washer is placed on a standard wood-framed floor rather than in a basement.

GE says the GE WBVH5300 replaces the WBVH52, which was the model originally tested. This model costs $500.

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