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The best household products – and which ones to avoid

We reveal the dazzlers and the duds from our lab tests.

best and worst household products of 2021
Last updated: 30 November 2021

Need to know

  • CHOICE tests hundreds of supermarket products each year in our dedicated labs
  • Our tests reveal budget products can often outperform or match big-name brands
  • Shockingly, some cleaners performed worse than water in our tests

Each year, we test hundreds of everyday products in our labs so we can tell Australian shoppers which ones are best to buy and which are best avoided. 

So, before you stock up on toilet paper, laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid and other everyday items, find out which products we recommend and which you should leave on the shelf. 

best and worst toilet paper 2020

Toilet paper

Toilet paper: it's probably not something you gave much thought to until you suddenly couldn't find it anywhere during one of the pandemic panic-buying episodes. Thankfully, now that the toilet paper crisis has subsided, you can start being picky about what you buy again. 

It might be cheap, but we suggest you give Coles' recycled TP a miss – it scored a scratchy 55% for softness and just 44% overall. On the other hand (or cheek?), Sorbent's winning product is virtually a luxury item at 49 cents per 100 sheets. But for your money you'll get good softness, strength, separation and Vitamin E – all the things you want in your toilet paper. 

Looking for something priced more reasonably that also performs? Check our toilet paper review before you buy. 

best and worst nappies

Disposable nappies 

Nappies are serious business: you don't want to muck around with what's inside. That's why it's so important to find a nappy that works for your little one. All babies are different, so your results may vary, but our expert testers swear by three particular nappies: Huggies Ultimate Nappies Size 3 (for crawlers), Little One's Ultra Dry Size 2 (for infants) and Tooshies by TOM Nappies (for infants). They all scored a perfect 100% for leakage and were rated as 'very good' to 'excellent' for absorbency. 

If you can deal with the errant apostrophe, the Little One's nappies are a great buy: the cheapest of the lot at 18 cents per nappy, and made in Australia (the other two are made in China). They're also the only one of the three to be PEFC, FSC or Sustainable Forest Initiative certified.  

By contrast, junior-sized nappies from BabyLove were average at best in all our tests. They were the lowest-scoring nappies in the size category by a full 20 percentage points, and also the most expensive. They scored a soggy 40% for absorbency and 50% for re-wet (which measures how wet the nappy is after five minutes). So unless you want to spice up your kiddo's life with some nappy rash, give these ones a miss.

Laundry

best and worst laundry detergents front loader

Laundry detergent for front loaders

It's a tale of highs and lows for Coles, taking out both top and bottom spots in our laundry detergent test. The supermarket brand tied for first place with Dynamo's Professional Discs, which at 86 cents per wash cost more than double the Coles capsules (40 cents per wash). They received almost identical scores on all our tests, acing everything but blood – our testers rated them as only OK for the red stuff. But overall they're both excellent performers. 

"Laundry capsules take the mess out of dosing detergent, but they don't allow you to adjust how much you use for different loads," says CHOICE laundry expert Ashley Iredale

"The can also look like lollies to curious little kids, so store them safely out of reach."

At the bottom of the test, Coles' Lemon Fresh is cheap but hardly cheerful. Shockingly, it cleaned barely better than plain water, which scored 51% in our test. In fact, water performed better on grass, mud, olive oil, chocolate ice cream and baby food. Try to find savings elsewhere in your household budget – this detergent just isn't worth it. 

In 2021, we tested more than 100 laundry detergents in our dedicated laundry labs. To see how other brands performed, check our laundry detergent review

best and worst laundry detergent top loader

Laundry detergent for top loaders

Coles may have topped our tests for top loaders, but be careful which product you buy: its liquid detergent scored just 46%. 

At the very bottom of the table, Tru Earth's Eco-Strips attained the dubious honour of being worse than plain water. It was outclassed by water on almost every one of our tests, and it's made in Canada, so despite its eco claims it comes with some serious environmental impact by way of transport. At 62 cents per wash, it's not cheap either – so it's definitely one to leave off the shopping list. 

best and worst stain removers

Stain removers 

This Aldi stain remover was far and away the most effective product that we tested – and it's the cheapest. What's not to like? By comparison, the OzKleen product costs $1.10 per 100mL and struggled to remove stains from baby food, mineral oil and blood. We know which one we'd rather have in our shopping trolley. 

Kitchen

best and worst dishwasher detergents

Dishwasher detergent 

Aldi products often score well in our testing, and its dishwasher tablets are no exception. Costing just 19 cents per wash, the Logix Platinum tablets outperformed other products costing more than twice as much. It powered through most of our tests, including removing egg yolk, rice starch, baked-on cheese and mince meat, but was less impressive at removing coffee stains. But for the price and performance, we can forgive having to scrub a few coffee cups.

At the other end of the spectrum, Earth Choice's dishwasher powder was disappointing across the board, failing to crack the 50% mark for removing many of the stains our testers threw at it. Don't write the brand off, though – its dishwasher tablets scored a very respectable 72%.

"We find tablets perform better than powders across the board, so this is consistent with our findings," says Ashley. 

"Tablets are less messy but typically command a price premium over their powdered cousins." 

best and worst dishwashing liquids

Dishwashing liquid 

Aldi takes first place again, this time sharing the podium with Morning Fresh. Both products well and truly outshone the competition, with the next best performer scoring just 65%. But make sure you're picking up the right Aldi or Morning Fresh dishwashing liquid – both brands also have products that failed to impress our experts, with some scoring as low as 50%. 

What's most surprising about this category, though, is the sheer number of products that failed to outperform water. Four dishwashing liquids received the same score as plain water, which is a spectacularly poor performance. Special mention goes to Fairy Platinum and Uniquely Natural for not only being useless but also expensive: Uniquely Natural will set you back 96 cents per 100mL and Fairy Platinum will cost you $1.12 per 100mL. 

Cleaning

worst and worst floor cleaners

Floor cleaners 

Floor cleaners don't have a great reputation here at CHOICE. The products we tested in 2020 all performed so poorly that we awarded the entire product category a Shonky award

In 2021, things have improved – but only slightly. Of the 17 products we tested, all but three failed to outperform water – and these three only scored one percentage point higher than plain water. 

Our advice? Skip the floor cleaner and just use hot water and elbow grease instead. 

If you want your floors clean just use a plain old bucket of hot water. Save your money.

Ashley Iredale, CHOICE home cleaning expert
best and worst multipurpose cleaners

Multipurpose cleaners 

While there were some star performers in this category, there were also plenty that failed to live up to their promises. Plain water scored 40% in our tests, and six products failed to do better. 

If you're planning on restocking your cleaning cupboard, make sure you check our multipurpose cleaner review first. 

best and worst glass and window cleaners

Glass and window cleaners 

The worst performer in this review is also the most expensive, costing a whopping $1.67 per 100mL. Value for money it isn't, and you're still left with dirty windows. 

Other notable fails are the two glass cleaning products that scored the same as plain water:

best and worst toilet cleaners

Toilet cleaners

Cleaning the toilet is never fun and it's made worse when you have to do it twice because your cleaning product stinks. Aldi proved lord of the loos – not only was their Power Force the best cleaner, it was also one of the cheapest toilet tamers in the test. Interestingly, other Aldi products performed much worse, so do shop carefully. 

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.