Lightening load: Best laundry detergents

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Many laundry detergents now come in small packs that are intended for easy use. Consumer Reports tested ones from Tide, All, Arm and Hammer, Ajax, Purex, and Dropps.

Some of the packs are quick to dissolve in water which can be a problem if you have wet hands.

And there is also a safety concern.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers has issued a warning about pack detergents.

It's received more than 1,000 reports of children being injured or sickened by them.

As with all household cleaners, it's important to keep them out of children's reach.

As for how well the packs clean, Consumer Reports tested using swatches that had been soaked with tough-to-remove stains like wine as well as grass.

The swatches are washed along with a full load of towels and then this machine analyzes the results.

Only one pack detergent, Tide pods, cleaned well enough to earn a Consumer Reports' recommendation.

They cost 22 cents per load and you can use them in both front and top loading washing machines.

However another Tide detergent, a powder, does an even better job of cleaning.

It's Tide Ultra Plus Bleach for about the same price.

But it can only be used in high-efficiency washers.

If you have a conventional top-loader, Consumer Reports said to consider powder laundry detergent Ultra Up and Up from Target.

While it doesn't clean as well as the Tide detergents, it costs half as much.

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