Walmart: What to buy and what to avoid

Consumer Reports

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( Photo: Scott Olson | Getty Images )

Walmart is known for value, but there are also plenty of top-performing products on its sprawling shelves. Then again, you could easily end up with a low-priced dud—which is no bargain in the long run. With those divergent facts in mind, Consumer Reports pulled together a list of Walmart-exclusive winners and washouts from its latest tests.       

Walmart winners

White Cloud 3-Ply Ultra toilet paper.

Our top-rated toilet paper is sold only at Walmart. Its strong, soft, and disintegrates cleanly, so it shouldn’t pose a problem for plumbing. What more could you ask for? How about a very competitive price of 29 cents per 100 square feet? It is currently priced at $5.97 for 12 rolls. Add it to the shopping cart!

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Great Value Strong & Absorbent paper towels.

These paper towels just missed our recommended list, but we’ll still call this a Walmart-exclusive winner as they scored highly for absorbency, scrubbing, and wet strength. Plus they're true to their name, with a low price of $6.84 for 8 rolls.

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Equate Ultra Protection SPF 50 sunscreen.

Hot sunny weather is still a fantasy in many parts of the country, but when it does arrive, this Walmart-exclusive sunscreen will be an excellent option. It was very good at blocking UVA raditation and costs just $9.00 for a 16-ounce bottle.

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Grill King 810-2545-C gas grill.

Grilling season is just around the corner. Here’s a very good Walmart exclusive model to consider. The $258 grill is fairly quick to preheat, offers great high temp evenness and very good low temp evenness, and its coated-cast-iron grates should resist corrosion.

GE AEW06LQ air conditioner.

Also looking ahead to summer, this GE air conditioner offers exceptional comfort at a very appealing price of $191.43. Several models scored better in our tests, but they often cost a lot more. Plus the GE’s score was dropped by the fact that it doesn‘t blow air well to the right, which might not be an issue depending on your room configuration.   

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Walmart washouts

Great Value Naturals laundry detergent.
($8.97 for 100 oz.)

This detergent is safe for use in all types of laundry machines—just don’t expect sparkling results.

Indeed, it is the lowest scoring of all tested detergents, only a bit better than plain water at tackling soils. Though they missed our recommended list, Great Value Original Clean and White Cloud laundry detergents are much better options. 

Better Homes and Gardens BG1755B gas grill.

Here’s a Walmart grill you should probably pass on. The $360 midsize gas grill got a poor in our tests for high and low temperature evenness, and it was only so-so at preheating.

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Bissell Rewind CleanView Pet 18M9W upright vacuum.

You can’t beat the price on this $90 bagless upright vacuum, but you can definitely find a better performing model. It was especially poor at emissions, or a vacuum’s ability to hold on to the dirt and dust that it picks up.

Farberware FP3000FBS food processor

This $60 food processor does some things well, including chopping, slicing, and shredding. But it was subpar at puréeing, a function that many people look to when making soups, sauces, and other blended foods.

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Plus it was one of the noisier models we tested, which could grate on your nerves over time.    

GE 169210 toaster.

This $25 two-slice toaster was among our lowest-scoring models. It was especially bad at maintaining consistent results over successive batches of toast. It also was merely average at making an evenly browned single slice of toast.

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Copyright © 2006-2014 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.

Having conquered the world of big box discount retail Walmart has set its sights on taking over dollar stores. It’s good news for consumers but not even execution is likely to move the needle for long suffering shareholders.

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