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Our latest tests of the biggest national and store brands of toilet paper show that you don¹t have to pay the most for rolls that are strong yet soft. (At left, lab technician Awilda Cruz dampens toilet paper sheets weighted with lead shot to see which rolls hold up best under stress.)
At just 12 to 15 cents per 100 sheets, CR Best Buys Kirkland Signature (Costco) and White Cloud (Walmart) cost roughly half what we paid for three pricey performers from Quilted Northern, Charmin, and Cottonelle. That can add up to roughly $130 per year for a family of three.
Price isn't the only reason you might want to sidestep Charmin Ultra Strong. It was also ultra-slow to break apart in our disintegration tests, a concern if you have paper-crazy kids or a septic system.
Toilet-paper makers are also plying you with more sheets, more layers, and the added sanitation of wet wipes. More rolls made from recycled products also promise to be softer as well as greener. But weeks of testing shows that some promises are mostly puffery, and some wet wipes could give you a nasty surprise if they're flushed. Here are the details:
Greener still isn't softer
We tested Marcal's 1000 and Sunrise, as well as Seventh Generation, which use 100 percent recycled materials. All did well in our disintegration tests but were only so-so for softness. They've since been reformulated, in part for softness. But as our retest shows, green still involves some sacrifices.
Marcal's new Small Steps replaces its earlier green products. At 8 cents per 100 sheets, it costs roughly one-third as much as the reformulated version of Seventh Generation we tested. That and top performance in our disintegration tests make it a good low-priced choice among greener rolls.