Two types of Tide detergents we tested provided good cleaning at 19 cents a load for top-loading machines and 25 cents a load for front-loaders. For dishes, Cascade's Complete with Bleach Hydroclean Action Powder cleaned well for only 12 cents a load; greener-minded consumers can choose a phosphate-free cleaner from Method that cost 25 cents a load.
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In our Ratings of carpet cleaners, the Hoover Dual V Steam Vac All Terrain With Spin Scrub F7452-900, $270, cleaned carpets almost as well as a professional service. But we also found carpet-stain removers and paper towels from Dyson and Earth Friendly that provided much poorer performance at a much higher price than our standouts in the "Best & Worst" categories.
|Cascade and Wave|
At just 12 cents per load, Cascade Complete with Bleach Hydroclean Action Powder excelled at cleaning dishes, thanks in part to phosphates, which can harm the environment. The best phosphate-free product we tested was Method Smarty Dish tablets, 25 cents per load, which was fine for cleaning dishes but not so good at pots. Avoid phosphate-free Wave 2X Ultra High Performance, which left our loads pretty dirty and costs 33 cents a load.
|Walgreens and Earth |
Walgreens Ultra Quilted was absorbent and survived more than 100 scrubs over our test tiles. It costs just $2.50 per 100 square feet. Earth Friendly Products lasted only 15 scrubs, held little water, and cost almost twice as much.
|Bissell and Dyson|
carpet stain removers
Carpet stain removers
Bissell and Dyson carpet stain removers None of the products we tested were great, but Bissell's OxyPro Carpet Spot & Stain Remover, $4.85, was best at lifting French dressing and spaghetti sauce. Dyson's Dyzolv Spot Cleaner, $13, left much of those stains behind and was even worse on coffee and red wine. Improve your odds by attacking stains as soon as possible and using a wet/dry vacuum to suck up the spill and the remover.
|Hoover and Bissell|
The Hoover Dual V Steam Vac All Terrain With Spin Scrub F7452-900, $270, left, cleaned almost as well as a professional service we hired. The Hoover left very little solution behind, so the carpet dried faster. Bissell's QuickSteamer 1770, $80, left most of the dirt where we put it, in the carpet.
|Ridgid and Shop-Vac|
Here's what $100 gets you: the midsized Ridgid WD1450, left, which excelled at sucking up nails, bolts, and tile shards, or the bottom-rated, midsized Shop-Vac Quiet Plus 585-12-00. It had an overall score of only 55 (compared with the Ridgid's 83), mostly because of its so-so performance at wet and dry pick-up. The Ridgid is sold at Home Depot.
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