A low price doesn't always mean a good deal, especially if the product doesn't perform well.
The experts at Consumer Reports have tested thousands of household items over the past year -- from detergents to toilets -- and have put together a list of some of the best and worst home products, based on products that are Best Buys or Recommended.
The list, featured in the May issue of Consumer Reports , is part of a comprehensive package that also includes the best and worst yard products including lawn mowers, tractors, and string trimmers.
"Faced with all the options on store shelves these days, even choosing something as simple as toilet paper can be a nuisance," said Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman, deputy home editor for CR. "We are sharing the best and worst picks from our rigorous tests to help consumers save time and money when shopping."
Consumer Reports sifted through its lists of tested products to find some of the best choices for consumers. Staffers looked for products that tested at or near the top of their product category. All picks are recommended, which means they combine performance with value. The magazine's testers also highlighted some of duds they've discovered.
In addition to naming the best and worst in laundry and dishwasher detergents, The May issue of CR spotlights recommended washers, dryers and dishwashers.
• Best: Tide 2X Ultra with Color Clean Bleach Alternative, which costs around 32 cents per average load, was the top-scorer for washing away tough stains in the tests.
• Worst: Xtra 2X Concentrated Lasting ScentSations Spring Sun Shine, which costs around six cents per average load, may have an attractive price but landed at the bottom of the ratings.
Liquid Dishwasher Detergent:
• Best: Cascade Complete with Bleach Hydroclean Action Powder at 12 cents per load, excelled at cleaning dishes, thanks in part to phosphates which can harm the environment.
• Worst: Wave 2X Ultra High Performance costs 33 cents a load and left dishes pretty dirty.
None of the carpet stain removers Consumer Reports tested were great, but there a few that were able to lift certain stains. The report also features recommended full-sized and small vacuums.
Carpet Stain Removers:
• Best: Bissell's Oxypro Carpet Spot and Stain Remover, $4.85, was best overall and one of the best at lifting French dressing and spaghetti sauce.
• Worst: Dyson's Dyzolv Spot Cleaner, $13, left most of the French dressing and spaghetti sauce behind and was even worse on coffee and red wine.
• Best: The Hoover Dual V Steam Vac All Terrain with Spin Scrub F7452-900, $270, cleaned almost as well as a professional service CR hired. The Hoover left very little solution behind, so the carpet dried faster.
• Worst: The Bissell QuickSteamer 1770, $80, left most of the dirt in the carpet.
In the kitchen
From paper towels to toasters, Consumer Reports has tested many kitchen essentials. There's also a list of recommended ranges, wall ovens, microwaves and freezers.
• Best: Walgreens Ultra Quilted, $2.50 per 100 square feet, was one of the top-rated brands of paper towels. It was absorbent and held up well in scrub tests.
• Worst: Earth Friendly Products tore easily when scrubbing, held little water, and cost almost twice as much as the Walgreen's brand.
• Best: Cusiniart CPT-170, $180, consistently produced batch after batch of evenly toasted bread, and a digital display counts the seconds until the toast is ready.
• Worst: The Toastess Digital TT321, $60, was only fair at toasting and results were inconsistent from batch to batch in the magazine's tests.
• Best: The Cuisinart TOB-195, $80, was very good at baking and broiling, toasts bread evenly, and is spacious enough for a four-pound chicken.
• Worst: The Emerson TOR35, $70, was only fair at baking and took longer to bake and broil than other models.
• Best: Earth Pan with Sand Flow (10 pieces), $190, delivered high performance at half the price of some of the other cookware sets that were tested.
• Worst: The Mercorla Healthy Chef cookware set, $300, landed at the bottom of CR's ratings because of burned food, handles that broke during testing, and stuck-on food.
• Best: KitchenAid Classic K45SS[WH], $200, has topped the magazine's ratings for years because it can whip up fluffy meringues and handle double batches of bread dough with ease.
• Worst: Sunbeam Mixmaster 2594, $90, was a lightweight in performance and pounds.
In the bathroom
Consumer Reportsnames the best toilet, toilet paper and showerheads.
• Best: Quilted Northern Ultra Plush, which costs 29 cents per 100 sheets, is top-rated and disintegrated easily when flushed, making it easier on plumbing and septic systems.
• Worst: Scott 1000, which costs six cents per 100 sheets, was the thinnest toilet paper CR tested and was only mediocre in strength and softness.
• Best: The American Standard Champion 4 2002.014, $425, provided power, quietness, and thorough bowl cleansing in one flush.
• Worst: The Kohler Persuade K-3654, $325, has separate modes for liquid and solid waste.
• Best: Moen's top-rated Inspire 21777, $50, offered a strong flow of water at a consistent temperature and seven settings.
• Worst: The Price Pfister Bell 15-070, $40, had a big drop in water temperature between the showerhead and one's body and had so-so force.
For more information on the best and worst home products, visit the CR web site or pick up a copy of Consumer Reports May issue, now available wherever magazine are sold.