Need to know
- Our lab experts review thousands of products to find the best and worst in their tests
- An expensive fridge that runs hot and cold, cleaning products so bad you might as well just use water, and a kitchen appliance that'll leave a bad taste in your mouth are just some of the duds we discovered
- CHOICE members can access our full test results and compare products side by side
Every year, our experts assess and review thousands of products from hundreds of brands to help you buy better.
As always, they found some excellent performers (including some surprising budget buys) in 2023 – and some serious shockers too.
We don't want you to end up with a dud buy, so here are the products that scored lowest in our lab tests. Consider becoming a CHOICE member to see the best performers.
This Smeg fridge may look cool, but it's not always cold.
It may be beautiful, but the Smeg FAB32RPB5AU will leave you – but not necessarily your food – cold.
Its CHOICE Expert Rating of 43% is poor, but its temperature stability score is its worst attribute: our experts gave it a zero on this test, which measures how much the temperature fluctuates.
So not only might you end up with limp lettuce and melted ice cream, you could also be left with leftovers that aren't be safe to eat because the fridge can't maintain the right temperature.
This exxy fridge comes from the same manufacturer that produced the worst fridge our experts have ever seen, and while this one hasn't knocked it off its pedestal, it's not far behind.
Cleaning isn't the most fun way to spend your time, so anything that stretches out this dreary chore is best avoided.
These products performed so poorly that you'll have to use your own elbow grease to actually get things clean.
No better than plain water: Globe Lucent dishwasher detergent sheets.
On the face of it, dishwasher sheets sound like a brilliant invention: biodegradable, plastic-free, low-allergenic and less packaging than traditional dishwasher detergents.
But while they tick the boxes for enviro-friendliness, they're not quite there in terms of performance.
In our testing, Lucent Globe Ultra Concentrated Dishwashing Detergent Sheets scored exactly the same as plain water – just 12%. It was the lowest scoring detergent by quite a margin, with the next-lowest scorer coming in at 45%.
For a dishwasher detergent that actually works, go for Aldi's Logix Platinum 18 in 1 Dishwashing Tablets, which topped our test with a score of 79%. If you're looking for a greener option, try Earth Choice Dish Tablets, which scored 75% and are also recommended by our experts.
Using plain water is cheaper and just as effective as this dishwashing spray.
The difference between Morning Fresh Ultimate Power Clean Spray and plain water from the tap? $11 and the time and energy you'll waste buying it in the supermarket.
The Morning Fresh spray cleaned just as well as plain water in our dishwashing liquid test – which is to say, not very well. They both scored 45% overall, which is rated as "poor" by our experts.
It's the second-most expensive detergent we tested and also the worst performing, which just goes to show that money can't buy cleanliness.
These laundry capsules left laundry no cleaner than just using water.
Sure, they're convenient, but some laundry pods will make more work for you because they won't actually clean your clothes.
In our tests, there's often a product or two that perform worse than water, but we don't usually see as many as four at once.
These laundry capsules were ranked exactly the same as plain water by our laundry experts – in other words, you're better off not using these at all. They're cheaper per wash than many other capsules on the market, but there's a good reason why: they don't really work.
- Plain water: 45%
- Surf Tropical: 45%
- Surf Aqua Fresh: 45%
- Ka Pod 4 in 1 Turbocharged Cleaning Power: 45%
- Ka Pod 4 in 1 Anti-dust Mites Laundry Capsules: 45%
Sard Wonder Power Fizz: like using nothing at all.
Some products are worth every cent you pay for them, but some products are the complete opposite. Case in point: these three stain removers. They were so bad at their one job – removing stains – that they were just as effective as not using a stain remover at all.
To clarify: if you use one of these sprays, or don't use them, you'll end up with the same result.
- No stain remover: 59%
- Sard Wonder Power Fizz Stain Remover: 59%
- Planet Ark Orange Power Pre-Wash Stain Remover: 59%
- Earth Choice Ultra Power Stain Remover: 59%
Rhythm Cleaning Vinegar's name is a bit of a misnomer: it doesn't clean particularly well.
Plain white vinegar costs less than 10c per 100mL, but Rhythm charges a whopping $1.20 per 100mL for its Cleaning Vinegar Kitchen Surface Spray.
We assume they're using the word "cleaning" loosely, because it doesn't actually do much of it. When we tested it alongside plain water, it did the same (very poor) job of cleaning tiles. They were both scored at just 25% by our experts.
Other cleaning products (and again we use the term loosely) that performed just as poorly are:
- Saba Organics Surface Sanitiser: 25%
- Morning Fresh Surface Disinfectant: 25%
- Diggers Multi-Purpose Surface Cleaner: 25%
Even a $1249 price tag doesn't mean a product is safe.
Sweet dreams definitely aren't made of these four bassinets that failed key safety requirements set by our experts. According to our testing, they all posed suffocation risks because of a lack of breathable zones or mattresses that don't fit properly or are too soft.
One of them is a fancy designer bassinet that retails for more than $1200 – if the safety issues don't keep you awake at night, the cost will!
These are the bassinets we tested this year that have serious safety issues. Click each to see the full reviews and risks.
- Kmart Anko Bassinet with Canopy ($159)
- Childcare Osmo Bassinet ($150)
- Fisher Price Soothing View Bassinet ($145)
- Stokke Sleepi Mini V3 and mattress ($1249)
Vacuum sealers are all the rage at the moment, with vacuum-sealing enthusiasts raving about how great they are for portioning bulk purchases, marinating food and extending the life of meat.
Sounds great – except that they don't really work all that well.
You're actually better off using an elastic band around your open pack of Cheezels to keep them fresh.
Plus, using a ziplock bag and a bowl of water actually does the same job as a vacuum sealer, which makes you wonder why anyone would buy one.
They also tend to be short-lived, with the seals and heating strips usually failing quickly so you can't use them.
Our experts were so unimpressed with the 10 sealers they tested that they didn't recommend a single one.
Every year, we call out the dodgiest products on the market with our Shonky Awards so consumers know what not to buy.
Here are the products and companies that took out the awards no-one wants to win:
- Woolworths and Coles – for cashing in during a cost-of-living crisis.
- Kogan First – for tricking customers into a $99 sign-up.
- Xbox Mini Fridge – for being a 'fridge' that doesn't make things cold.
- Personal alarms – for being unreliable and hard to use.
- RentTech – for 'data gouging' people desperate to find a home.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.