As readers know, one of my favorite resources is ShopSmart, the brainchild of Consumer Reports. Its advice has saved money and time, and this week's tips are no exception. The current magazine reports on cleaning products that work as well or even better than the more pricy ones and, too, saves the consumer some much-needed bucks.
1. All purpose cleaner: The big winner here is Pine Sol Original at $2.48 a bottle. It beat out almost 20 other more expensive cleaners and left no streaks.
2. Cleanser: Comet with Bleach is the favorite. At only $1.25 a bottle, Comet is a rave review for many cleaning jobs, including toilet bowls.
3. Dishwasher detergent: Walmart leads the pack with its Great Value Powder Pacs. The bag costing $4.47 contains 32 Pacs and cleans dishes as well as Cascade packs.
4. Dishwashing liquid: Actually, because all 14 products tested came out on top, the advice is to buy by price and Ajax Lemon Dishwashing Liquid fits the bill.
5. Laundry liquid: Target's brand Up and Up HE Fresh Breeze at $13 works in regular and in HE washers. Also, this liquid did a great job on grass, chocolate, and various other stains.
6. Laundry pretreatment: Resolve Laundry Liquid exceeded 14 other products in removing stains and was the cheapest at $4.46.
7. Laundry soap: Use Fels-Naptha along with detergent to get out more stains. It costs $1.50 per bar.
8. Stain stick: CVS' store brand On the Go at $1.99 per stick did as well as Tide to Go, although it does not remove lipstick (neither does the Tide).
Tax Tip: The health insurance deduction has been expanded for the self-employed. In addition to themselves, folks can now deduct the cost of insuring their nondependent adult kids as long as the latter were under age 27 at the end of 2012.
Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears every Saturday. Email her at consumer watch@timesfree press.com.