Best Toilet Paper

Updated September 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

48 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
561 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best toilet paper

Last Updated September 2019

For some of us, toilet paper may be one of those household necessities that dare not speak its name. However, it is a product that has served humankind well for centuries, and it would definitely be missed if it disappeared from store shelves tomorrow.

Toilet paper (or bathroom tissue) is an extremely popular product, requiring a significant percentage of the world’s total wood pulp supply to meet consumer demand. For this reason, many manufacturers now place a premium on using recycled paper stock and/or sustainable wood sources. The use of dyes, fragrances and old growth pulp has also been reduced in recent years because of increased consumer awareness.

Considering how much toilet paper an average family uses in a year’s time, shopping in bulk does make good economic sense, but there are also many other factors to consider. User comfort is one important factor, since many people use fewer sheets of a premium brand per visit. Absorbency and texture are also factors to keep in mind. Read on to learn even more about how to find the best toilet paper brand to meet your specific needs.

The first recorded use of paper as a personal hygiene item was during the 6th Century AD in China. It did not become widely popular until the 14th Century AD, however.

Key considerations

Number of plies

The number of plies in a particular brand and style of toilet paper often determines more than thickness. Some single-ply brands are nearly as absorbent and comfortable as their more expensive two-ply competitors, but many consumers seek out two- and three-ply contenders because of factors such as durability and softness. Two-ply construction has largely become the default setting of toilet paper marketed for home use, while three-ply brands are seen as premium.

Roll size

Replacing a roll of toilet paper may not be the more difficult task for housekeepers, but it can become a time-consuming annoyance if smaller rolls are being emptied within a few days. Manufacturers address this issue by offering oversized rolls that still fit most standard toilet paper holders. While some individual users may be satisfied with smaller roll sizes, these mega-rolls can be very useful for larger families.

Recycling and sustainability

While the use of recycled paper stock is a common selling point for many toilet paper brands, there are some trade-offs to consider. Recycled paper pulp is not always as absorbent or soft as virgin paper pulp, for instance. Some premium brands specifically use a special fiber found only in original wood pulp to create ultra-plush products. Other manufacturers do indeed use nearly 100% recycled pulp to create their bath tissue, but consumer satisfaction can be variable.

A related consideration is sustainability. Environmentally-conscious toilet paper manufacturers make an effort to purchase their raw ingredients from sustainable forests and other sources. The demand for toilet paper and other paper product is notoriously high, which means old growth and virgin sources for pulp can be easily depleted if not sustained responsibly. Look for information on the recycled content and sustainability efforts on the product’s packaging or manufacturer’s website.

Economical multi-pack option

Purchasing toilet paper in bulk makes good economic sense, but it can be difficult to find a brand that offers both economy and user comfort. The individual sheets are also thicker and noticeably more cushioned than bargain brands. This means fewer sheets per use, which also means more savings in the long run. We recommend these oversized rolls for larger families in homes with multiple bathrooms. The paper is clog-resistant, safe for septic tanks and approved by Roto-Rooter.

Features

Packaging options

Because toilet paper is one of those household commodities without a shelf life, buying in bulk does make good economic sense for larger families and institutions, or anyone with room to store it. Alternatively, you have the option of purchasing a single roll for travel, or a four or six pack for personal use. Sometimes a premium three-ply brand becomes much more affordable per roll when purchased in bulk sizes. The size of an individual roll can also vary widely, from an average of 77 sheets on a bargain brand to hundreds on a 5X mega-roll.

Texture

Competition for new customers can be substantial in the toilet paper market, so manufacturers are constantly looking for ways to make their products stand out on store shelves. One popular method is to enhance the texture of the paper. Some premium brands feature a technique called quilting, which creates visual interest and the perception of additional comfort. Others use embossing to emphasize the brand name or trademark, along with adding strength. There is also the practice of rippling, creating pleats in the paper to improve adhesion. Many users prefer textured toilet paper to the smooth feel of basic single-ply bath tissue.

Strength or softness

The process of converting wood pulp into toilet paper is a little more complicated than it appears. Manufacturers can use primarily recycled paper sources and create a product that is strong and absorbent, but not necessarily comfortable on the user’s skin. By using fibers found only in virgin pulp stock, the finished paper is noticeably softer, but can also generate more lint and be seen as less environmentally responsible.

The difference between these two production methods can be seen on the finished product’s packaging. One brand may be marketed as “extra strong”, while a similar brand is promoted as “extra soft” Both brands perform well, but there is an actual difference between them. It often comes down to the consumer’s personal preference.

 

DID YOU KNOW?

The average person uses 57 sheets of toilet paper per day, and an average family goes through one entire roll every five days.

DID YOU KNOW?

The US military used toilet paper to camouflage tanks during Desert Storm.

DID YOU KNOW?

In some countries, used toilet paper is not flushed into a traditional sewage system.

Toilet paper prices

Because packaging options vary so widely, it is difficult to evaluate toilet paper based on price point alone. A single roll of premium toilet paper, for example, may be noticeably higher in price than its neighbors on the store shelf, but the cost per roll is lower when purchased in bulk. Instead, we will consider the expected quality of the product at different price points.

Inexpensive: Basic toilet paper sold primarily for institutional or commercial use is generally one-ply, and is not known for its absorbency or user comfort. Some retail stores also sell single rolls or smaller packages of this entry-level paper at bargain prices. It is most often sold as large pre-filled cartridges or in bulk to institutional customers. Because it is a thin, one-ply product, many consumers find themselves more of it per visit. These tend to cost less than 50 cents per roll.

Mid-range: Mid-range toilet paper is often a thicker one-ply or two-ply product. This is the price point where store brands compete with many of the national brands for shelf space. The paper is generally softer and more absorbent, with a higher virgin fiber content. Manufacturers often create additional texture by embossing or quilting the sheets. The number of sheets per roll can vary widely, which means a 4 pack of one brand can be a better value than an 8 pack of another brand. These hover between 50 cents and a dollar per roll.

Expensive: Ultra-premium toilet paper can be two-ply, or even three-ply, which translates into additional absorbency and user comfort. Some higher end brands may also contain a fragrance, along with more elaborate embossing for texture. Because of the higher quality of paper, consumers tend to use fewer sheets of premium bath tissue per visit — a dollar or more per roll.

Sustainably sourced, affordably priced

In terms of economic savings, it would be hard to beat this budget option. These two-ply mega-sized rolls are created from sustainable wood pulp sources, and each roll is four times larger than standard 77 sheet rolls. The comfort and absorbency levels are comparable to well-known national “ultra-soft” brands, but at less than half the retail price.

Tips

  • The actual number of sheets per roll can vary widely from brand to brand, so consumers should look for total square footage on the packaging.

  • Two-ply toilet paper is not necessarily twice as thick as single-ply rolls. Some one-ply brands are thick enough to compete with basic two-ply brands.

  • Embossing and quilting help to distinguish specific brands, but they are not always indicative of better overall performance.

  • Users with pets or small children may want to use the “underhand” method of mounting toilet paper. This orientation makes it more difficult for a pet or child to spin out an entire roll.

  • Ultra-premium two or three-ply toilet paper generally requires fewer squares per “pass”, so users should adjust their habits accordingly.

  • Toilet paper using 100% recycled paper stock tends to be more coarse than premium brands that use virgin fiber pulp.

Other products we considered

Different people use different criteria when it comes to toilet paper, and we believe our shortlist represents the entire spectrum. However, there are other products we encountered in our research that deserve consideration. In terms of environmental awareness and responsibility, the Aria Premium, Earth Friendly Bath Tissue can’t be topped. Its ingredients are not just recycled, they are sustainable. When it comes to economy without sacrificing performance, Envision 1-Ply Embossed Toilet Paper by GP PRO (Georgia-Pacific), is a one-ply commercial grade toilet paper that’s as thick and comfortable as many two-ply competitors. If you need to buy in bulk for an office or institution, this is definitely one to consider. For those who put a strong emphasis on recycling, Seventh Generation Toilet Paper uses 100% recycled paper stock, not the virgin fiber stock often used in other premium ultra-soft brands. The two-ply rolls combine strength with softness, and are safe for RVs and septic tanks.

Alternatives to toilet paper have included sponges, broken pottery, shells, corn cobs, catalog pages and fruit peels.

FAQ

Q. My mother remembers buying rolls of colored toilet paper back in the 1960s. Why can’t I find it on store shelves today?

A. Colored toilet paper was produced in the US from the 1950s until the early 2000s (although few manufacturers kept making them after the 1980s). Manufacturers halted production after studies indicated the dye used to tint the paper could be toxic to some users. The dye also slowed down the natural disintegration process. Some colored toilet papers are still being produced for a higher end consumer market or for novelty purposes.

Q. Why did ultra-soft brands of toilet paper become so controversial recently?

A. The current trend in toilet paper production centers around recycled paper pulp and sustainable sources of virgin paper stock. Premium ultra-soft toilet paper requires a special type of fiber that can only be found in new paper stock, not recycled pulp. There are concerns about the long term effects of harvesting this fiber from old growth forests.

Q. Has anyone officially ended the debate over which way to mount a toilet paper roll? I prefer the “under the roll” orientation myself, but my wife prefers going “over the top”.

A. The direction of the toilet paper roll is still a matter of personal preference, although some informal polls suggest the “under” orientation is more popular. Pets and curious children are more likely to spin out a roll of toilet paper if it is in the “over” orientation. However, a close examination of the original patent application for a toilet paper holder does show the roll in an overhand orientation.

The team that worked on this review
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Katie
    Katie
    Editorial Director
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Michael
    Michael
    Writer

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