The dirt on laundry pods: latest invention to clean your clothes

CLEVELAND - It's easy to overuse laundry detergent. The lines on the measuring cups are not always easy to see.

There's a new invention in the laundry business that has the industry spinning. Detergent is now put into a dissolvable pack or pod like the ones used for dishwashers. Gel packs make it easy to make sure you're using the right amount of detergent and not letting money go down the drain, but Does it Really Do That?

Some consumers say their dirty clothes came out of the washer with a sticky residue.

When you're raising five boys, the laundry piles up quickly.

"I know laundry. Unfortunately, I would like not to know it. I would like to be divorced from laundry," Charna McCoy said. The laundry may be here to stay, but McCoy can divorce her old laundry detergent.

"My usual detergent is Gain bleach because it gets the funk out," McCoy said. Instead of a big box, how about detergent in a small plastic packet called a pod?

"It is weird," McCoy said as she felt and examined the product.

After 58 years in the laundry business, employees at Clifton Cleaners in Cleveland have seen lots of products come and go. They wonder if the pods will actually stick around.

"They've had a lot of time to develop it, so this might be the answer," Rich Pfaff said.

It's as easy as tossing and going. McCoy hopes she'll score with the pods, but they're not racking up points with every user.

"You are supposed to throw them in the drum before you throw the laundry in, and that's what I have been doing," Super-couponing blogger, Jill Cataldo , told us via Skype. She tried the All Mighty Pacs because she had a coupon knocking the price down to $1.99.

We paid anywhere from $3.49 to $5.49 for the detergent at a drugstore without any coupons. Most bags will last around 20 loads.

"I do a lot of laundry. We have three kids, and over the course of the week I did five loads. In three of those loads, the pack was not dissolving," Cataldo said. Instead of clean clothes, Cataldo ended up with sticky ones. A plastic residue was left behind.

"I kind of peeled it off with my fingers, but it did stick to the fabric. I could peel most of it off, but it was very gummy, like peeling an adhesive label off something," Cataldo said.

While the pods don't appeal to some, Cataldo said only half her blog readers had problems.

It comes down to what fits your lifestyle and budget.

"This is perfect for a college student," Pfaff said.

Or a mom who needs laundry to become less of a "chore."

"It was actually easier. It was more user-friendly, cleaner and not messy," McCoy said.

I ran some independent testing as well. I gave seven different brands to seven people without telling them about the problems. Nobody reported any residue.

I called several manufacturers who say they've heard the complaints, but in their own tests the packets dissolve in all water temperatures and all machines.

The manufacturers say it will take time to change everyone's habits.

For specific instructions on each product, read the instructions. Typically, you have to throw the pod into an empty washer, ideally close to the water so it dissolves, and don't overload it with clothes. If your washer is jammed with clothing, the detergent pod could get caught up in your clothes and not fully dissolve.

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