WASHINGTON — The flood of cheap laundry detergents and detergent wipes in recent years has helped drive down the price of detergent and detergent wipes, and manufacturers are scrambling to find ways to keep consumers happy.
That includes reducing the amount of water used to wash and dry clothes.
A new survey by the Institute for Supply Management and Consumer Reports says consumers spend an average of $9 on detergent every month, and more than $50 on wipes, which are used for washing clothes.
But those costs are rising rapidly.
Washing detergent has dropped in price since 2007, from $1.69 a quart to $1, or $2.15 a pound, a report says.
The survey, released Thursday, found that a third of people who use a detergent say they will buy less if they can get away with it.
Wipe prices have dropped more sharply in recent months, according to the report.
The companies that make those wipes are also paying more attention to how much they use and how they clean them, according, to the institute.
The washing detergent market is worth more than half a billion dollars a year, and wipes are the largest revenue stream, said Michael Gartland, president of the institute’s consumer services.
The institute has tracked more than a dozen brands, and found the average detergent cost $9 in the U.S. in 2016, down from $19 in 2006, according the institute, which does not track specific detergent prices.
It says its survey shows that the cost of a gallon of detergant and wipe has fallen about 30 percent since 2011.
That’s partly because manufacturers have been more focused on reducing costs by reducing the number of chemicals and additives that they use.
Wipes also are a lot cheaper.
An average washing detergence kit costs $8, or about $10 for a quart of the stuff, according a recent survey by Consumer Reports.
But consumers have been buying fewer wipes, according with the institute and others.
The company that makes the wipes, Detergent Direct, cut the amount it uses by nearly 40 percent last year to save money.
The new survey also found that most people still buy wipes for washing, not just washing clothes, which is the most common reason for buying detergences, Gartlands said.
That suggests the wipes are a good alternative, even if they’re less popular.
“There’s a huge opportunity for consumers to take a cleaner-than-air approach,” Gartles said.
Some companies are offering free wipes, though most are selling wipes at retail prices.