The world's most in-depth and scientific product reviews

Best Toilet Paper

Credit: Laura Casner
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 24, 2020
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
We examined over 30 products and bought the 11 best toilet paper options for direct use. As is typical, our testing is both objective and "in real life". We formulated and executed repeatable, comparative, objective tests, and collated the in-use findings of six different households. We've now tested for more than six months, continuously examining for strength, absorption, cleanability, and softness/comfort. We developed an "effectiveness coefficient", used to accurately compare the actual value of each roll. Toilet paper value is a function of more than the sticker price. We are confident that our effectiveness coefficient will guide you to true function and value purchase decisions.

1

Best Overall Toilet Paper


Charmin Ultra Strong Mega Rolls


Charmin Ultra Strong Mega Rolls
Editors' Choice Award
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$36.00
at Amazon
See It

GearLab Effectiveness Coefficient: 1 | Water Absorbed Per Sheet, ml: 6.9
Strong; you need less to do the job
Very absorbent
Expensive
Linty

After granting draft awards based on most of our testing, all those testers and consultants that we further interviewed were utterly unsurprised that this product won our top honor. The Charmin Ultra Strong satisfies both those looking for comfort and performance. It topped the scales in our objective tests of strength and absorption and was nearly as soft and gentle as the gentlest in our review. While this Charmin is indeed more expensive than most, its effectiveness per sheet tilts the value equation back at least a little bit. We found that the most effective sheets could do what it took four sheets of the least effective competitors. If you can adjust your usage patterns accordingly, expensive options like this award-winning Charmin aren't actually much more expensive than "value" options — over weeks and months of use.

Our proprietary, mathematically-derived effectiveness coefficient can be thought of as a multiplier of sorts. How many sheets of the TP in question does it take to do the job, relative to others? A lower number is better. In that regard, the Charmin Ultra Strong tops the charts. The value will be a function of the effectiveness, your associated usage patterns, and the actual cost per sheet. Diligent users can find better value with the more effective (albeit more expensive, per sheet) options than with flimsier options. The main actual drawback of the stronger options like this one is that some plumbing situations aren't prepared to handle more robust sheets, especially in bigger clumps. Know your plumbing before getting too excited about the robust Charmin Ultra Strong.

Our first recommendation when shopping for toilet paper.
Our first recommendation when shopping for toilet paper.
Credit: Laura Casner

2

Best for Strength


Quilted Northern Ultra Soft and Strong Double Rolls


Quilted Northern Ultra Soft and Strong Double Rolls
Editors' Choice Award
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$37.50
(13% off)
at Amazon
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GearLab Effectiveness Coefficient: 1 | Water Absorbed Per Sheet, ml: 5.1
Tester favorite in strength
Scored well objectively
Harder to find
Expensive, per sheet

The Quilted Northern Ultra Soft and Strong scored very well. In calculating our "effectiveness coefficient", it performed at the top. Its absorption is above average, strength tops the charts, and subjective softness comparisons rank it with the top 5.

Quilted Northern doesn't have the brand recognition and plethora of different styles/options that the bigger names offer. However, this flagship option they put out is among the best. You can't go wrong with the Quilted Northern. It might be more challenging to find, but when you do, it is a worthy contender to consider.

Quilted Northern is another excellent option, which blends decent...
Quilted Northern is another excellent option, which blends decent absorption, strength, and softness.
Credit: Laura Casner

3

Best Bang For the Buck


Charmin Essentials Soft Essentials Double Rolls


Charmin Essentials Soft Essentials Double Rolls
Best Buy Award
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$16.14
(42% off)
at Amazon
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GearLab Effectiveness Coefficient: 1 | Water Absorbed Per Sheet, ml: 7.2
Widely available
Very absorbent
Average strength
More expensive than other budget options

The Charmin Essentials is simple, widely available, and solidly performing. Its price is competitive with budget options, especially when you consider its effectiveness. In terms of strength, absorption, and cleanability, this top scorer is among the very best. To do what you can do with one sheet of Charmin Essentials, you need four sheets of Scott 1000. Super budget, "institutional" tp might require the use of 5, 6, or more sheets to match the performance of one sheet of Charmin Essentials. Attentive use of Charmin Essentials can be less expensive than similar use of bargain-basement product.

Charmin Essentials is the company's least expensive product, but it still comes in at least a little more expensive per sheet, than bare-bones budget products. As we note over and over again, the absolute lowest price does not define actual value. In shopping for value, pay attention to both effectiveness and your usage patterns. If you need a value in toilet tissue, think about selecting the most effectiveness per dollar and adjust your usage/behavior accordingly. Essentially, use less of the good stuff per task, and you can save money by purchasing up the scale.

Charmin Essentials offers great function at a good price.
Charmin Essentials offers great function at a good price.
Credit: Jediah Porter

4

Best on a Tight Budget


Amazon Brand Solimo 2-Ply


Amazon Brand Solimo 2-Ply
Best Buy Award
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$19.99
at Amazon
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GearLab Effectiveness Coefficient: 3 | Water Absorbed Per Sheet, ml: 4.1
Average absorption
Delivered to your door
Only available online
Below average strength

In assessing, both directly and indirectly, a huge spectrum of toilet tissue options, we found a pretty distinct consensus on what constitutes the minimum viable performance/comfort of a product. Even across significant demographic and socio-economic situations, users mainly agreed that the Amazon Solimo toilet paper offers the minimum in comfort and effectiveness.

Only if you are seeking institutional value or purchasing for environmental sensitivity will you really wish to compromise further than the performance offered by this high scorer. Amazon's Solimo brand of household products does the job at a good price. The TP is right in line with their other products we have used; typical "store" brand performance but available online.

The Amazon Solimo Brand tissue is a good value, even after employing...
The Amazon Solimo Brand tissue is a good value, even after employing our critical analysis.
Credit: Jediah Porter

5

Best for Older Plumbing or Septic Systems


Seventh Generation 100% Recycled 2-Ply


Seventh Generation 100% Recycled 2-Ply
Top Pick Award
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$27.58
(14% off)
at Amazon
See It

GearLab Effectiveness Coefficient: 3 | Water Absorbed Per Sheet, ml: 4.8
Recycled
Gentle in plumbing
Compromised performance
Uncompromised price

The Seventh Generation 2-Ply toilet paper is for those purchasing for septic health and/or with respect to environmental values. It is among the most significantly recycled products in our test and is the 2-ply product that we'd recommend for older plumbing or septic systems. Many TP products have recycled content in them, but of those we tested, the Seventh Generation 2-ply is the most recycled.

You won't choose this product for comfort or performance. That is good, as this contender doesn't approach the top of the charts in either of these measures. Its GearLab "effectiveness coefficient" (3 on a 1-4 scale, lower is better) isn't the worst, but there are many products that do better. Testing notes from a couple of our testers indicate that, in their subjective comparative assessment, the Seventh Generation 2-Ply is softer than at least one product with "soft" in its model name. That's good, but wasn't an authoritative consensus. You could very well find that this award winner isn't soft enough for you.

Looking for a choice that will take it easy on your septic system?
Looking for a choice that will take it easy on your septic system?
Credit: Laura Casner

6

Maximum Softness


Charmin Ultra Gentle Mega Rolls


Charmin Ultra Gentle Mega Rolls
Top Pick Award
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$49.91
(9% off)
at Amazon
See It

GearLab Effectiveness Coefficient: 2 | Water Absorbed Per Sheet, ml: 4.4
Super Soft
Above-average effectiveness
Expensive
Linty

Even when we blinded testers from the brand messaging associated with toilet papers, it was pretty clear that the Charmin Ultra Gentle option was the absolute softest in our review. If you seek maximum comfort, look no further. Effectiveness isn't too far behind. Others are stronger, more absorbent, and clean better, but not many others.

You'll pay for the comfort with dollars and with spinning lint flying around your bathroom. Every tester commented on the "poofs" of extra lint that accompanied this ultra-soft option. Spin a few rolls of Charmin Ultra Gentle through your dispenser, and you'll notice greater-than-average lint accumulation in the vicinity. Don't discount the long-term annoyance of such lint accumulation; it is visible, cluttered, and doesn't sweep up readily.

The Charmin Ultra Gentle is exactly as advertised. This is the...
The Charmin Ultra Gentle is exactly as advertised. This is the softest, gentlest toilet paper we assessed.
Credit: Jediah Porter

7

In the Top Performance Tier


Angel Soft 60 Double Rolls


Angel Soft 60 Double Rolls
Top Pick Award
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$29.41
(61% off)
at Amazon
See It

GearLab Effectiveness Coefficient: 2 | Water Absorbed Per Sheet, ml: 4.3
High strength
Average effectiveness
Low absorption
Not as soft as you'd like

The Angel Soft toilet paper is in the upper echelon of products but doesn't top the chart in any one way. It is a solid, average, well-rounded choice. All of our testing households liked it and compared it favorably to the other top scorers. In our objective testing for absorption, this Angel Soft was nothing special. In similar testing for strength, the Angel Soft was surpassed by only a couple of options.

Our assessment of Angel Soft's cleanability has it performing about average. Similarly, softness was about average. One tester pointed out that it is "a step up from the lowest scorers here" and that it "rolls/tears a bit [more than the others] when it gets damp."

Angel Soft TP wasn't as cushiony as we'd hoped, but it was as...
Angel Soft TP wasn't as cushiony as we'd hoped, but it was as effective as the best.
Credit: Jediah Porter

8

Great, Wavy Texture


Cottonelle Ultra CleanCare


Cottonelle Ultra CleanCare
Top Pick Award
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$25.18
(3% off)
at Amazon
See It

GearLab Effectiveness Coefficient: 2 | Water Absorbed Per Sheet, ml: 5.7
High wet strength
Ripples clean well
Average softness
Expensive

The Cottonelle Ultra CleanCare delivered the most mixed results of any in our test. About half of our six testing households loved it, while the other half were thoroughly unimpressed. In processing this information, we are mystified as to how to rank this product. Such wide-ranging opinions aren't what we'd expect from toilet paper analysis. We had different batches sent to different households. Is there a quality control issue at Cottonelle? Do they send different levels of product out under the same brand and model? This seems unlikely but could explain the findings of our test team. Objective testing (of just one batch of Cottonelle Ultra CleanCare) concludes that this product is very strong and pretty absorbent.

To say that a type of bathroom tissue is "polarizing" sounds dramatic. But, let us have it. TP testing is rather undramatic otherwise. You might love this, or you might hate it. Despite our speculation on quality control, we are not at all convinced that that is the issue we faced. We really do think that some love this one while others hate it. While we can't choose for you, we can say that this model is effective. On our effectiveness scale of 1-4 (lower is better; This number describes how many sheets will do a given job), the Cottonelle Ultra CleanCare scores 2.

A strong and absorbing option in our fleet.
A strong and absorbing option in our fleet.
Credit: Laura Casner

9

Among the Strongest


Cottonelle Ultra ComfortCare Cushiony Cleaning Ripples


Cottonelle Ultra ComfortCare Cushiony Cleaning Ripples
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$25.18
(3% off)
at Amazon
See It

GearLab Effectiveness Coefficient: 2 | Water Absorbed Per Sheet, ml: 5.1
Strong
Expensive
Not super soft

We had difficulty discerning much of a difference between the two Cottonelle options in our test. This model, their Ultra ComfortCare, is supposed to be a little softer than the Ultra CleanCare style. We found subtle differences, with varying interpretations across the team. Overall, the testing team and their subjective assessment preferred this CleanCare to the ComfortCare type.

On the other hand, our objective strength and absorption testing found the CleanCare to surpass the ComfortCare. The CleanCare is more absorbent and stronger, as assessed in our lab tests. The ComfortCare, as the name might suggest, is softer than the CleanCare. Both of these compare, for the most part, favorably to other thick, top-scoring toilet tissue options.

The Ultra Comfort Care is strong, but not a top performer in our...
The Ultra Comfort Care is strong, but not a top performer in our fleet.
Credit: Laura Casner

10

Really Soft


Charmin Ultra Soft Mega Roll


Charmin Ultra Soft Mega Roll
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$32.18
(17% off)
at Amazon
See It

GearLab Effectiveness Coefficient: 2 | Water Absorbed Per Sheet, ml: 6.8
Soft
Effective
Linty

Charmin's Ultra Soft Cushiony bathroom tissue is exactly that. It is among the softest options but keeps Charmin's effective attributes as well. Their Ultra Gentle feels a little softer, but both are equally effective.

This Charmin Ultra Soft Cushiony bathroom tissue is fully functioning and effective. It isn't as soft as others and not as sturdy as our top scorers. Perhaps it strikes the balance you seek.

If soft is what you want, soft is what you'll get with the Ultra...
If soft is what you want, soft is what you'll get with the Ultra Soft from Charmin.
Credit: Laura Casner

11

Not Worth it for Most Testers


Scott Bath Tissue


Scott Bath Tissue
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$35.49
(13% off)
at Amazon
See It

GearLab Effectiveness Coefficient: 4 | Water Absorbed Per Sheet, ml: 2.1
Widely available
Super thin for delicate plumbing
Not very effective
Not very comfortable

Scott 1000 is a small step above "commercial grade" toilet paper and seems to be the most minimalist bathroom tissue widely available at retail. For the most delicate of sewer and septic systems, this is going to be your handiest choice. For bare-bones, budget emergency supply, you could stash a small package of this away for contingencies.

For day-to-day use in houses with plumbing made in the last 50 years or so, all of our testers agree that the Scott 1000 just isn't worth it. It is cheaper than the rest, per sheet — but each sheet is less effective than any of the others. You'll need up to four sheets of Scott 1000 to do what one sheet of the top performers will do. You can get other budget products that are twice as effective as this Scott option. These other budget products are not twice as expensive as the Scott.

Scott 1000 TP is thin. You can see the light right through it.
Scott 1000 TP is thin. You can see the light right through it.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Why You Should Trust Us


We care about your bathroom comfort and cleanliness. And we care about information that helps you make intentional choices on even the most mundane of purchases. We saw an excellent opportunity to perform some objective and subjective testing of toilet paper that will truly help you make an informed choice. To perform that testing, we had lead test editor Jed Porter coordinate a team that included six households and over a dozen individuals.

Most of our testing was "real world" application in day-to-day usage.
We tested wet and dry strength with this suspended arrangement.
We tested absorption by measuring the amount of water a single sheet...

First, we purchased all of the tested products at retail and ensured that the various types were distributed to our team scattered throughout the US. Most of the team performed subjective, comparative testing of the products to identify softness, strength, cleanability, and whatever else they observed in day-to-day use. Our lead tester Jed Porter performed a battery of objective tests. He developed and performed tests for absorption, wet strength, and dry strength. Absorption was tested by weighing squares dry and saturated. Both wet and dry strength were tested by suspending sheets of TP and assessing their resistance to tearing. We tested with weights and dropped projectiles. We tested single sheets and variable loads and fixed loads with increasing numbers of sheets. In preparing this review, we collected and examined more than 100 columns of spreadsheet data.

We take each contender in our fleet and put it through a series of...
We take each contender in our fleet and put it through a series of side by side tests.
Credit: Laura Casner

To compile and organize the generated data (and we, as a team, recorded over 100 columns of toilet paper data, for each TP type!), we separated comfort from effectiveness. Mathematically, we isolated the various measures of effectiveness (strength, absorption, cleanability) from comfort (softness) and developed a measure of effectiveness.

Each type of TP gets a GearLab "Effectiveness Coefficient", calculated from strength, absorption, and cleanability. This value, a whole number on a range from 1-4, represents the minimum number (or multiple) of sheets required to do a given job. Lower is better. The best products we tested require one sheet to do what another might require four sheets to do. Our mathematical deduction correlates almost perfectly with anecdotal and subjective assessment of the same thing. You need more of the flimsy stuff, per use, than you do the good stuff.

Credit: Laura Casner

Analysis and Test Results


There is excellent news borne of our objective analysis; for the most part, our critical examination supports intuitive and subjective preferences. The stuff you like is the stuff that performs better in our test. We are particularly excited about how our objective measures can be used by consumers to secure actual high value in toilet paper. With so many darn options on the market, all with mystifying pricing schemes, confidently ascertaining actual value is a tall order.

Credit: Laura Casner

Strength


With toilet tissue, strength matters. We tried a whole host of testing methodologies. The best and final test we developed was to suspend a sheet or stack of sheets over a canning jar lid, held in place by the canning jar lid ring. We then dropped a small permanent marker (about the same diameter and shape as a finger. Not coincidentally…) from 16 inches high. We started with one sheet of each type of TP and added sheets to the count until the aggregate effectively blocked the penetration of the dropped, lidded Sharpie. Our findings in this test correlated almost exactly with concurrent subjective testing. In the subjective test, we tore sheets with our hands, back to back, and comparatively.

Strength testing involved simulating, in a controlled fashion, the...
Strength testing involved simulating, in a controlled fashion, the ability of the tissue to resist tearing by a semi-pointy object.
Credit: Jediah Porter

We performed a similar strength test on wet toilet tissue. We suspended the TP a similar way, wet the product with a fixed amount of water, and then added small scale calibration weights until the paper failed.

Both top scoring products were the strongest in our test. The Charmin Ultra Strong and Quilted Northern Ultra Soft and Strong were considerably ahead of the next performers in our strength testing. Angel Soft, Charmin Essentials, and Cottonelle Ultra ComfortCare are pretty close behind the two top performers. Scott 1000 is an outlier on the low end in terms of strength. Down there near, but not as weak as Scott, is Seventh Generation 2-Ply and Amazon Brand Solimo tissue.

Wet strength was tested with suspended, wetted sheets and...
Wet strength was tested with suspended, wetted sheets and incrementally adding known and controlled amounts of weight.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Absorption


For liquid tasks, you want your TP to readily absorb. They all do so pretty quickly. The rate of initial absorption is virtually indistinguishable between the different products. The amount of liquid absorbed, though, is significantly different across the different products. We tested this by weighing, to the nearest 10th of a gram, dry sheets and the same sheets saturated with water. The most absorbent sheets soaked up more than three times as much and the least absorbent.

The most absorbent products in our test were Charmin Essentials, Charmin Ultra Strong, and non-award winning Charmin Ultra Soft Cushiony. At the other end of the spectrum, the minimalist Scott 1000 holds about half as much fluid as the next closest competitor.

Absorption matters for many toilet tissue applications. To...
Absorption matters for many toilet tissue applications. To objectively compare absorption potential, we measured the amount of water every single sheet could absorb.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Cleanability


How well does a type of TP collect what it needs to collect? Assessment of this was purely subjective. That being said, we are confident in our subjective assessment of cleanability. Interestingly (but perhaps unsurprising), perceptions of cleanability are correlated with perceived and tested strength. Stronger products clean better, for the most part.

Credit: Laura Casner

The Charmin Ultra Strong cleans the best, while the Cottonelle Ultra Clean Care and the other high scorers, like the Quilted Northern Ultra Soft and Strong, are up there too. TheScott 1000, Seventh Generation 2-Ply, and Amazon Solimo struggle near the back of the pack, and are not our first choices if seeking top-notch cleanability.

Cleaning ability was tested "in situ" and in real life, with direct...
Cleaning ability was tested "in situ" and in real life, with direct comparisons made over months by a broad and deep team.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Softness/Comfort


We aggregated the comparative softness assessment of about a dozen testers. We found notable agreement and are confident in our ranking of respective toilet paper softness. The Charmin Ultra Gentle is ahead of the rest. Next is Charmin Ultra Soft Cushiony Touch. The next echelon, at least a little behind these two super comfortable options, are Charmin Essentials and both top scorers. Predictably, Scott 1000 is the least soft in our test. One tester points out that Scott 1000 is "definitely the scratchiest".

This Cottonelle Comfort product wasn't the softest, but many testers...
This Cottonelle Comfort product wasn't the softest, but many testers liked the way it balanced comfort and effectiveness.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Shopping for Value


It is challenging to shop for toilet paper value, and it's a tall order to seek the "best bang for your buck". First, toilet paper is sold in a wide array of configurations. You can buy one roll at a time or in giant packages. You can get some sort of volume discount, or it can only seem like that is the case. Next, there isn't any standard size of the roll. "Standard" rolls from one company can be different from those of another company. And then there are the plethora of roll size options. You'll see "double", "mega", "family mega" and "supreme", among others. Naming conventions vary from one company to another.

Credit: Laura Casner

Further mystifying the quest for value is the varying effectiveness of different products. As noted above, we found that one sheet of a great product can do the same job that four sheets of a poorer product can do. If you can adjust your usage patterns for differing effectiveness, you can get the best value from something other than the absolute cheapest product.

Value calculations require understanding just how much toilet paper...
Value calculations require understanding just how much toilet paper you actually need for a given task. Objectively comparing strength helps in that assessment.
Credit: Jediah Porter

The good news in your hunt for the best toilet paper value is that a square from each type of toilet paper is essentially the same size. The largest differs from the smallest by just a few percent. In comparing the effectiveness of various toilet papers, you can assume that each square is the same size as another.

With the above assumptions and findings, plus some discipline in your usage (i.e., use the minimum amount of tissue for any given job), you can calculate the actual best value in a toilet tissue product. It is a labor-intensive process, but is one you can do with price, sheet-count, and our calculated "effectiveness coefficient". Try this step-by-step process to find your best value.

First, determine how much toilet paper you can store at any given time. Buying in bulk is the best value, but we can't all store hundreds of rolls. Narrow your shopping to package sizes that you can store. Next, intuitively weed out the products that are obvious outliers. The most expensive choices will probably remain too expensive, even after a critical analysis. Same for the least expensive choices, absolute budget tp is borderline useless and likely not worth the time, money, and space.

When you have narrowed your choices, identify the cost per sheet (or per 100 sheets. This is how prices are often communicated online. Just make sure your denominator is the same for every product) and the GearLab "Effectiveness Coefficient" for your options. Say you have product A that is 13 cents per 100, and its Effectiveness Coefficient is 4. Product B is one that costs 34 cents per 100 sheets, and we scored it a 1 (these are real numbers from a recent GearLab analysis).

Multiply the cost by Effectiveness Coefficient for each product to get an approximation of true cost. Product A appears very inexpensive, but it is far less effective. Its cost for a given amount of function is 52 (13x4). Product B, in the same analysis, scores 34 (34x1). Product B is less expensive per use. Product B, used with some discipline, is a considerably better value than product A, despite initial purchase prices that invert that value differential.

This is a stack containing one sheet from each tested product. All...
This is a stack containing one sheet from each tested product. All the products have sheets that are essentially the same size as the others.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Intuitive assessments of function and value validate our mathematical approach and vice versa. What we propose with the use of our proprietary "Effectiveness Coefficient" isn't inherently unique, nor is it fully necessary. Critical thinking and actual value-oriented use of toilet tissue will support the same conclusions we have made mathematically.

Conclusion


Toilet paper choice isn't the most sophisticated consumer choice you will make. However, you will use it at least daily and use it in high consequence situations. You want the right choice for you. You can spend a lot and get little, or you can spend and use intentionally and increase your cost effectiveness. Hopefully, our above information helps you make informed choices based on objective and verified test results. We find again and again that our testing yields reliable and repeatable results that are both confirmed by intuitive examination while challenging some robust first impressions and instincts.

Credit: Laura Casner

Jediah Porter