The 15 Worst Products Consumer Reports Has Ever Tested and What to Buy Instead
According to the nation's leading consumer watchdog, you should avoid these underwhelming home items. But don’t worry—we've got some great alternatives for you.
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Consumer Reports has been one of the leading sources for trusted product reviews for generations. The American nonprofit organization is dedicated to unbiased product testing, so when they have something to say about anything from a washing machine to a stroller, you should listen! Recently, Consumer Reports published a list of the 15 worst-rated items they’ve tested, and you might be surprised who made the list. While none of these products landed here for safety reasons (those products earn a Do Not Buy designation), they didn’t perform as well as they should have and, as a result, earned the lowest overall scores in their respective categories. Here are the home appliances, gadgets, and gizmos you should skip—along with 15 you should check out instead. And when you take home your new purchase, make sure you don’t make these 12 mistakes that shorten the life of your home appliances.
Leaf blower: Craftsman 74936
According to Consumer Reports, the Craftsman 74936 is an “underwhelming” battery-powered handheld that “struggles with its most crucial functions.” It ranked low for sweeping and loosening leaves (its main purpose!) and got just a Fair rating overall.
If you’re looking for a leaf blower that does the job well and won’t break the bank, check out the 110 MPH 500 CFM 40-Volt Lithium-Ion Cordless Variable-Speed Jet Fan Leaf Blower from RYOBI. It’s one of Home Depot’s best-selling blowers, and it has overwhelmingly positive reviews. When it comes to your outdoor space, also avoid these 10 little mistakes that make your home look cheap.
Snow blower: Greenworks 26022
The Greenworks 26022 is the worst-scoring snow blower, according to Consumer Reports. “It lacks the power to plow snow quickly, remove a pile of snow, or even disperse snow very far from where you plow, earning a Poor rating in all three of these tests,” they explain. As for handling, it doesn’t fare well either: It’s hard to turn and lacks freewheel steering.
A better option: Troy-Bilt Two-Stage Gas Snow Blower, which has a self-propelled electric start, will last you through those seemingly endless winters. Home Depot reviewers claim it is “easily maneuverable,” “durable,” and half the price of many competing models. Of course, even the perfect snow blower can’t be used on everything. This is the safest (and fastest) way to remove snow from your car.
String trimmer: Stihl FSA 45
This string trimmer from Stihl won’t cut down on your time working in the yard—or make the actual work easier. Consumer Reports says, “It had difficulty cutting grass around walls and trees, and it earns a Fair rating for trimming—our testers had to do a second pass to cut 4 to 6 inches of grass.” Also, don’t even bother trying to cut tall grass and weeds with it, because it “struggles to trim both, leaving a messy, uneven patch.”
Instead, try Dewalt’s 20-Volt MAX Lithium-Ion Cordless 13-inch Brushless Dual Line String Grass Trimmer, which has thousands of reviewers raving that it’s powerful yet lightweight and super easy to use. Check out these landscaping tips that can add as much as 15 percent to your home’s value.
Refrigerator: Viking Professional 7 Series VBI7360WRSS
This gorgeous Viking Professional 7 Series refrigerator costs more than $10,000, but it’s not worth the money. Consumer Reports‘ testers found that “its internal temperature does not always match the thermostat setting, earning it a Fair rating for thermostat control.” Additionally, it scored low in terms of predicted reliability and owner satisfaction. “Consumers who buy Viking refrigerators might experience higher-than-normal breakage rates within the first few years of ownership, and they are unlikely to recommend Viking fridges to others,” according to the review.
The good news is, you don’t have to pay $10,000 to get a great fridge. The Whirlpool French Door Refrigerator in Fingerprint Resistant Stainless Steel looks just as sleek as models quadruple the price and has amassed a near-perfect rating from Home Depot buyers. When you get your new model home, make sure you’re not doing one of these 7 things that shorten the life of your refrigerator.
Range: Fisher & Paykel OR30SCG4X1
Another expensive appliance that doesn’t live up to its price tag, this $3,900 range from Fisher & Paykel earned a Poor rating in Consumer Reports‘ cooktop low-temperature tests. Why? “Its burners weren’t able to maintain low-heat settings for tasks that require simmering and melting.” It also got low marks for baking, as “cookies and cakes we baked on different racks had uneven browning.”
If you want your kitchen creations to come out as perfect as possible, try the stainless steel Samsung Gas Range with Self-Cleaning and Fan Convection Oven. This affordable model is one of Home Depot’s highest-rated and best-selling ranges. Since buying a big-ticket item like this is an investment, you want to make sure the one you choose works for as long as possible. Check out these 13 appliances that will last 10 years or more.
Washing machine: Amana NTW4516FW
Unfortunately, this Amana washing machine isn’t going to get stains out of your clothes. Consumer Reports gave it a Fair rating for washing performance because “there was plenty of red wine, blood, and carbon stains left on the swatches we washed on a normal cycle.” It scored even lower for water efficiency since it used 25.5 gallons to wash a single load.
The Speed Queen TR3000WN 26-Inch Top Load Washer may not look fancy, but multiple publications have picked it as the most reliable washer on the market. You should also be aware of these 10 laundry mistakes you didn’t know you were making.
Blender: 3 Squares Soup3rb 7-cup Cook & Blend
Consumer Reports says this 3 Squares blender is “okay” at making smoothies, but it really lacks the ability to puree, as it was “unable to blend raw vegetables for making soup.” It also scored extremely low for durability because it actually broke before completing the 45 test sessions of crushing ice. Yikes.
Of course, you can’t go wrong with a Vitamix or a NutriBullet, but if you want one of the newest and most innovative blenders on the market, invest in Breville’s Super Q. You can put nearly any fruit or veggie in it, and within 30 seconds, you’ll be sipping on the most velvety-smooth smoothie you’ve ever had. When shopping for groceries, America just named its cheapest grocery store. Do you shop there?
Coffee maker: Proctor-Silex Single Serve 49961
If you like to start your day with a cup of great-tasting coffee, avoid this Proctor-Silex Single Serve model. Its inexpensive price tag may make it seem like a good deal, but it makes just “okay-tasting coffee,” say the testers at Consumer Reports. It also ranked low for temperature consistency (meaning that each cup of coffee differs in how hot it is) and speed. “It’s slow at brewing a second cup of coffee because the unit needs to be cooled off in between brews,” they point out. “A good single-serve coffee maker typically brews a second cup faster than the first.”
It’s a better idea to invest a little money in your morning java—it will pay off in the long run. This OXO Brew 9-Cup Coffee Maker features a microprocessor-controlled brew cycle, which basically replicates the fancy pour-over method you see at high-end coffee shops. Plus, every brew can produce two to nine cups of SCA-certified coffee. And don’t miss these 10 mistakes everyone makes when brewing coffee.
Flooring: Heritage Mill Red Oak Natural Click PF9356
Wood floors are gorgeous…until they get marked up with unsightly scratches. That’s why Consumer Reports recommends avoiding Heritage Mill Red Oak Natural Click flooring. Testers say it doesn’t stand up to foot traffic, so it’ll show wear quickly, especially if you have pets or a lot of people in your household; it also dents easily.
Instead, check out Home Depot’s Home Decorators Collection Strand Woven Distressed Dark Honey Engineered Click Bamboo Flooring, one of the highest-rated options at the store. Not only is it easy to install, but it’s also scratch- and dent-resistant. But before you lay down your hardwood floor, read up on these common home-improvement mishaps—and how to avoid them.
Wood stain: Olympic WaterGuard for Wood
The Olympic WaterGuard for Wood stain scored the lowest of all stains in Consumer Reports‘ stain tests—earning a score of just 5 out of 100. (Ouch.) According to testers, the stain didn’t take to the wood after accelerated weathering time tests for decks.
But Behr’s Premium Cedar Naturaltone Semi-Transparent Waterproofing Exterior Wood Stain and Sealer gets the job done. Not only does it have thousands of rave reviews, but it’s also one of Home Depot’s top-selling wood stains.
Sheets: Pinzon by Amazon
“Sometimes, you do get what you pay for,” Consumer Reports points out about Amazon’s uber cheap Pinzon sheets. “Our testers note that these sheets do not fit on a queen mattress after less than a year’s worth of washing.”
You can achieve comfort on a budget, however. Amazon users love the Brushed Microfiber 1800 Bedding from Mellanni. With more than 70,000 reviews, the hypoallergenic queen-size sheets—which are wrinkle-, fade-, and stain-resistant—have amassed a near-perfect rating. By the way, if fitted sheets still give you grief, check out this hack that will help you fold a fitted sheet in seconds.
Steam mop: Shark Steam Pocket S3501
Consumer Reports claims that the biggest problem with the Shark Steam Pocket is that it doesn’t have a motorized pump, meaning “you have to pump this mop yourself to get the steam going.” In addition to failing to clean well, its steam rate isn’t great, “due to the fact that the steam level varies depending on how much you pump.” It also has the shortest cord of its category, limiting how far you can take it from an outlet.
Bissell’s PowerFresh Steam Mop, on the other hand, is Amazon’s Choice of steam mops—and for good reason. It has a 23-foot cord, it’s super easy to maneuver because of its swivel steering, and it’s ready to go in 30 seconds.
Video doorbell: Netvue Belle A.I.
If you’re looking for an “extra set of eyes” at your front door, avoid the Netvue Belle A.I. video doorbell, warns Consumer Reports. According to testers, the video quality is poor, so “you won’t be able to see much from video taken in regular light, much less low light.” It also failed in response-time tests “because it takes almost 13 seconds from the time someone presses the doorbell for you to get an alert on the smartphone app—at which point the UPS driver with your package requiring a signature will be long gone.”
But for less than $100, you can own the Alexa-compatible Ring Video Doorbell, which has garnered positive reviews from more than 42,000 Amazon shoppers. Here are other great options for the safest smart doorbells for your home.
Door lock: Weslock 671
This door lock from Weslock will not keep your home safe, as it fails to withstand kick-ins. “We use a custom 100-pound steel battering ram that hits the door eight times at increasing heights until the lock fails,” says Consumer Reports. It’s also easy to pick or drill through.
For a keyless offering that will keep your home accessible to family yet protected from intruders, try the Google Nest x Yale Lock, which connects with your entire Google Nest system. It has a keyless deadbolt and a design that can’t be picked. And don’t miss these 13 sneaky ways FBI agents protect their homes.
Stroller: Graco Aire3 Click Connect
The experts at Consumer Reports love other Graco strollers, but not this one! “In our safety tests, the crotch-belt portion of the harness tore at its anchor point in not one but two tests,” they explain, pointing out that if the strap breaks entirely, your child can slip out of the seat and potentially fall to the ground. Additionally, the padded strap covers for the harness make it difficult to adjust the fit, and the fabric cup holder isn’t removable, so you can’t clean it.
If you’re in the market for a stroller, check out Baby Jogger’s City Mini GT2, one of the latest releases from the popular stroller company. It was recently chosen as BabyList’s Best Overall Stroller of 2019. Do you rely on online reviews to make your major purchases? Make sure you know these 12 signs that a shopping site is fake—and about to steal your money.