I spend a lot of time in grocery stores.  They’re my leisure activity.  I love a good grocery store like a University student loves a good kegger.  Let me walk you through what a typical visit to the toilet paper aisle is like with me:

Karen: (subject strolling back and forth in front of toilet paper aisle)  Hmm.  HMMM.  I will buy this toilet paper.  It’s on sale.

Other customer:  Why are you telling me? I’m not concerned with what bathroom tissue you buy.

Karen:  Bathroom tissue? Bathroom tissue??!!   Aren’t you fancy. I wasn’t talking to you anyway, I was talking to myself.  Basically you were eavesdropping on a private conversation with myself.  Which makes you either rude or a spy. Are you a spy?  You seem very spy-like.

Other customer:  I’d prefer to be rude than suffer from logorrhea.

Karen:  Wha … what? Logorrhea?  I’m starting to understand the whole “bathroom tissue” thing.

Other customer:  (stares blankly)

Karen:  I’ve decided you’re not a spy.  You could never fit any cool spy stuff in that ridiculously small spy kit.

Other customer:  It’s not a spy kit, it’s my crayon box.

Karen:  Either way, kid …  I’m still buying the toilet paper that’s on sale.

Other customer:  You’re weird.

The End.

A similar scenario is likely to happen in the dairy, meat or cereal aisle.

This scenario is never likely to happen again because as of a few weeks ago I changed my attitude.  And my toilet paper brand.

All because of my never ending plumbing problems.

ONE thing you can do to decrease the chance of any plumbing problems is buy the right toilet paper.

And do NOT buy the wrong one.

I wanted to know which was which, so of course … I did an experiment.

If you have any sort of plumbing issues, the most important thing in toilet paper isn’t if it has lotion, isn’t if it’s thick, isn’t if it’s soft, isn’t if it’s on sale … the MOST important thing is …


Toilet paper that doesn’t dissolve just sits in a clump in your plumbing.  And if it gets caught on something like a jagged edge or corner in your pipes it will stay there for a longggg time, allowing more and more paper to get stuck and caught on it, creating, eventually a big mass of undissolved toilet paper blocking your sewer line.

And then one day you’ll flush the toilet and instead of the water in the toilet bowl going down, it will start to move UP.  Towards you. As you stare in horror, desperately trying to remember what to do (turn the water supply to the toilet off immediately) you’ll wonder why, WHYYYYYYYY is this happening to YOU?

Because you’re using the wrong toilet paper.

In the olden days this wouldn’t have been as large a problem but a lot of today’s low flush toilets just don’t have enough power to push the super luxurious toilet paper through.

So the experiment.

I went out and bought 3 brands of toilet paper.



I bought the cheapest brand possible at $5 for a whole whack of rolls.  It was my store’s own cheapo-brand.

I bought Charmin Ultra Soft which looked like a standard premium toilet paper.  I bought it because this particular toilet paper had a claim right on the packaging that it’s a “no plunger” toilet paper.  Meaning it won’t clog your pipes.  Presumably that means it will dissolve easily.

I bought Cottonelle Gentle Care with Aloe which looked more like a blanket than toilet paper.



I put 2 sheets of each of the brands into a glass jar.


Then I added 2 cups of water to each jar.


Then I let them sit for half an hour.

After half an hour I stirred the toilet paper up a bit to see how it broke down.


The results were amazing.



Both of Premium and Super Premium brands (Charmin on the left and Cottonelle on the right) barely broke down.  The cheap stuff broke down very well.

84% of households buy Premium and Super Premium brand toilet paper by the way.


The Charmin Ultra Soft which claimed on its packaging that it wouldn’t clog your pipes, did dissolve but not nearly as much as the cheap stuff.  After half an hour in water I could still pull out big globs of paper without it breaking.


The cheapest brand, as I suspected, dissolved away to almost nothing after half an hour.  All that remained after stirring it a bit were tiny little bits.  It almost broke down completely.  This toilet paper would not cause your pipes to clog.



The Cottonelle with Aloe and ripples?  This toilet paper almost didn’t break down at all. And even after soaking it in the water it was still strong and not at all interested in breaking apart.

You might think this is a lot of thought about toilet paper, but the day will come, mark my words when you’re staring a toilet bowl full of horrors and you’ll wish you’d given toilet paper more thought.

The least of your worries is an overflowing toilet before you can get the plunger to work.  The worst of your worries is sewer lines that need to be snaked at a cost of around $400.

Actually, that’s not the worst. The worst of your worries is spending thousands of dollars replacing your sewer lines that keep getting clogged when all you needed to do was buy better (worse) toilet paper.



  1. Mel says:

    Fabulously useful post! When I taught middle school art, I found a recipe for paper mache clay using toilet paper, and indeed, the cheap stuff IS the right answer for that as well!

  2. Rachel San Diego says:

    That’s our Karen… Always on the forefront of groundbreaking (pipe-clogging?) research!

    Nicely done. I TP my hat to you, lady.

  3. allyn says:

    thank you for devoting your life to answering the big questions all of us are not admitting we really want to know!

  4. Shirley says:

    As a rural homeowner on our own septic system, I can tell you I bought Cottonelle ONCE!

  5. Suzanne says:

    I thank you and our sewer line thanks you. Our home was built in 1950 and every time we have guest for the weekend we have sewer problems. In fact this last Christmas my husband and brother-in-law spent the day in our front yard trying to clean out the sewer line. Not the day any of us had planned on.

    • Karen says:

      It’s an INSANELY important topic that no one seems to know about! I have no idea why this hasn’t been discussed or showcased more. It’s bizarre really! ~ karen

  6. Jenn says:

    Thank you!! We are in a septic tank and field system and it’s great to know this!!!

  7. Rhonda "Smartypants" Davis says:

    Um, I may have missed something while otherwise unclogging my toilet; however, how do I, pray tell, know which TP is the preferred choice? You live in Canada, m’dear, and I live in Oregon (Ory-gun) and I’m sure your cheapest brand is not the same as the cheapest brand here. Or, am I wrong? I do know which two brands NOT to buy, so thanks much for that info. 😉

    • Karen says:

      It doesn’t matter. Just buy whatever is the cheapest and it’s likely to be the one that breaks down the fastest. If you’re unsure do a test yourself. Just buy a small amount, put it in a jar of water for half an hour and mix it up. It if falls apart, it’s good, if it stays pretty much together you know it’s going to clump. ~ karen!

    • LuAnn says:

      Dear SmartyPants,
      I live in a 90 year old house for the last 26 years and I’ve found Scott tissue works well with my old pipes. Learned that years ago from issues with our old motorhome as well.

      • Ronda says:

        Luann, we live in a 60 year old house, rurally.
        We too only use SCOTT Tissue, for the same reasons.
        The original Scott tissue, not the cushy stuff.

        • Also Scott paper has like three times more sheets on it which by far makes it the thriftiest! I’m obsessed with sharing this info to everyone including you! Love your blog!

          • BaconBleuCheez says:

            Even better, with three times the sheets the roll doesn’t run out so often (can you spare a square?)

          • Pat says:

            I just did this test myself because my sewer backed up into my garage. Scott was *by far* the best. After 30 mins Quilted Northern and Kirkland had both not even dissolved (Quilted Northern was a little better). Scott started dissolving in less than one minute. I used cold water because that’s whats in the toilet tank here in Alaska.


            • Karen says:

              If you can get Cascades, Pat, it’s also great. Dissolves away to nothing. In Canada we can’t get Scott brand. Or at least I can’t find it, so I sussed out Cascade toilet paper. It’s made of 100% recycled material so the fibres it’s made up of are smaller and shorter which is mainly what helps it to dissolve quickly and easily. I imagine it’s similar with Scott brand. ~ karen!

            • Lavendershrub says:

              That made me laugh – that you use cold water because that’s what you get in Alaska. Do you REALLY mean that some houses flush their toilets with HOT, or warm, water?! NEVER heard of that, and certainly in UK flushing is ALWAYS cold water. Hot?…..mmmmh! What a laugh! And Scott toilet paper? Never heard of it in UK. We get Cushelle, Andrex, Kleenex and supermarkets own brands.

  8. Pam says:

    Problem with the cheapo brand is that is ALSO breaks down when you’re wiping your rear end or even dabbing gently at your front end :). I’ll go for the premium brands every time. And flush well.

    • Karen says:

      I’m guessing the first time you get a $1,000 repair bill you’ll rethink that sentiment, lol. But that’s just a guess. ~ karen!

    • stephbo says:

      That was exactly my thought! I’ll take the higher quality “takes a little longer to break down but won’t leave me with unpleasant things on my hands” toilet paper any day.

    • cindy says:

      Yes, break through is pretty yucky. Angel Soft and White Cloud (Walmart) are both inexpensive and strong enough without using a huge wad. I’m a TP experimenter, too. HaHa.

  9. Dagmar says:

    Please welcome me as a specialist on this topic. I live with most of my digestive system removed, due to a gastrointestinal disease. Having said that, I visit washrooms, A LOT of washrooms; which means knowing a little about toilet paper. And indeed the thinner ones are much better. I have found that the Costo brand called Kirkland Signature are fantastic. They are soft but don’t clog. They don’t have fancy lotions, so they don’t cause any unwanted itching or side effects. Plus, they are a good value. The only issue is that most people cannot walk into the Costco stores and buy just toilet paper. That, unfortunately I cannot give any advice on.

    • Marla says:

      Right on! My house (1924) had old pipes, and I found, at great expense, that the cheap stuff is the best.

      • Dagmar says:

        And no one said that you can’t double it when wiping. It really just “comes down” to flushing tp or something that is as thick as a shop towel. ?

        • Dagmar says:

          I hope you get the same result as mine. I followed Karen’s formula, but only did half the amount: one cup to one piece. My results showed that it does break up with a little spinning.

          • Karen says:

            Keep in mind, you’re looking for it to disintegrate as opposed to just break up a little. The more it disappears the better. 🙂 ~ karen!

    • Paul says:

      The POM brand at Sam’s Club is another one that works well with a septic. It’s 2-ply so it strong enough, yet thin enough that it works with the low flush toilets. It also breaks down quickly.

      It a little less expensive than the Scott. Anyone remember the colored TP? Most of it would not decompose in a septic!

    • Stefani says:

      Thank you Dagmar!! I just returned from Costco with a giant package of their tp and picked up my iPad. Through the whole article I was thinking ‘oh, no’ and how I was NOT going to test it.

    • Carolyn says:

      As a self proclaimed nerdy girl I will be testing my tp in the am.
      Kirkland (Costco) is my brand since consumer reports named it a best buy a few years back.

  10. Pam says:

    P.S. I’ve also noticed that with the cheapo brand (which a friend buys) you end up using twice as much as you would of the so-called premium brand. That’s no bargain….and with twice as much TP going down the drain I don’t know that one is ahead of the game.

    • Karen says:

      It’s not about the cost of the toilet paper Pam. It’s about the fact that the cheap stuff won’t ruin your pipes and clog (no matter how much you use). The thick, plush, expensive stuff does not dissolve or break down. The post isn’t about the cost of toilet paper. It’s about the cost of repairs using the wrong toilet paper will lead to. Like I say, continue to use the premium if you want. Go nuts. Maybe you have superior pipes. But it’s not the right choice if you have even slightly questionable pipes or substandard toilet and will, without question, lead to problems. ~ karen!

      • Pam says:

        LOL. I realize it’s not about the cost Karen. But maybe I’ve been lucky as I’ve been in the same house for over 26 years, with an original toilet which is probably almost 40 years old, and I’ve never had a major problem yet. Yes, I’ve had a few clogs but a rubber plunger solved the problem.

        • Kelly says:

          And that’s why you don’t have such an issue with clogging…most of the the newer toilets are “crap”. Pun intended.

  11. Barbie says:

    Yes! We only buy Scott …. Breaks down great! Great post…. A lot of peeps just don’t realize this!

    • Karen says:

      Yes! Thanks for the reminder Barbie. If you’re in the U.S. Scotts is a great choice! Excellent toilet paper that breaks down incredibly well. ~ karen!

  12. Connie says:

    This just happened to me TODAY! I was horrified and thought well what did I do to cause this? My bathroom is after all 42 years old so maybe I need a new stool. I use Charmin because I like the way it feels on my bum but I do not like what happened when I got up this morning.
    I would bet its the toilet paper. Thanks for the timely post. Silly me, I never even considered the tp.


  13. Milton says:

    I have often said that plumbing is something you never think about until it breaks. THEN it becomes the most important thing in your life. Your experience seems to confirm this same observation. Thanks for a great post!

  14. stephbo says:

    Also a tip–don’t flush baby wipes or dental floss. We had some old pipes that apparently had some tree roots poking through. Those things snag and cause problems.

  15. peg says:

    i will test my store brand tomorrow.I won’t buy “charmin” to expensive at my grocery.(almost to thick ) Thanks for getting us to think about stuff that doesn’t seem important but is. 😀

  16. Mark says:

    Really good demo Karen, good information to know.

    A few years ago (when I was replacing 60 yr old toilets with low flush 6L models), a plumber told me that I would not be happy unless I replaced the cast iron waste stack at the same time. This is because cast iron is rougher inside, and there is not enough water to transport all the solids along that rough cast iron without the occasional clog. It wasn’t a problem as it was a complete remodel of the house and I was planning on relocating fixtures anyway, but it was good information to know.

  17. Shannon says:

    Thanks for this post. We have suffered from clogs in the past. My current favourite is Cascades. It has post consumer recycled fibre and it starts to break down rather quickly. It is also not too bad on the tooshie either. Unfortunately our local Costco did have it last time so we bought the Kirkland brand. Doesn’t breakdown as fast and I have read that it is not great for the sewer system. Have you heard anything about that?

    • Julie says:

      Hey Shannon…I’m wondering about Kirkland as well…I hear bad things about it here in Fredericton NB…

    • Gwen says:

      Adding my two cents to the Kirkland comment because I have a timely observation to make about it. We just had a service out to do an emergency septic tank cleanout. We also had a “stuff going the wrong way” happen at our house. We consulted several services by phone in a search to find one who’d come out on a weekend. All of the gentlemen I spoke with were helpful and knowledgeable and offered advice about babying our 40 year old septic system in what is now it’s old age. Two of them, without me asking, listed a few of the worst offenders when it comes to causing septic tank problems. And although they didn’t name the exact same things in the exact same order, BOTH of them listed Costco’s Kirkland brand toilet paper first! They both told me that they see more problems with systems when the family uses Kirkland than they see with any other brand. I’ve never bought it, and you can bet I never will!

  18. jen says:

    Pinned…to my ‘It Works’ board 😉

  19. Muff Hackett says:

    I live in Squamish BC – our District has addressed this very question:–_mmwDP7g8

  20. Kathy says:

    You get the best notions and then follow with 4 star experiments. The toilet went glug while I was in the shower. That is not as heart stopping as the bowl about to overflow but it still means plumbers. It was tree roots that cracked a cement sewer line. The fence comes down for the heavy equipment to dig a 5-6 foot deep trench and that starts 3-4 days that I wouldn’t curse on anyone. No sign of the main sewer line at the end of my property and they dig up my neighbors yard to almost the corner of her house. The tree was on her property but who knew where the sewer line was hiding. Yeah it was 5,00.00 and they only take fences down 🙂 So I will test my toilet paper in the morning. I wonder if flushable wipes ever dissolve often used on little kids.

    • Karen says:

      No they do not Kathy. 🙂 ~ karen!

      • judy says:

        yuck-I was channel surfing one day and paused at a documentary or maybe just a news thingy about the problem municipal sewage treatment facilities are having with these wipes from baby wipes,feminine hygiene and just designed for post potty cleaning. The pictures were disgusting…great masses of grey solid looking stuff that looked impenetrable and immovable. The tech was explaining that the product was playing Havoc with their ability to process the waste rapidly and flush it out to your local stream or river. They had to build at no small expense an alternate processing stream and it wasn’t working very well. I clicked off,went to the BR and tossed the box into the waste basket. Sorry because I liked feeling that I was as clean as possible without installing a bidet-small Bathroom even smaller budget- so not happening. Thanks for the info,am switching tomorrow.

        • Karen says:

          I’m going to do a follow up on this post Judy. Your best bet is to look for toilet paper that’s meant for use in septic tanks. It completely degrades to nothing. (Cascades is a great example. It just dissolves to almost nothing but is a great toilet paper. Not sandpapery. 🙂 ) ~ karen!

  21. Elaine says:

    I don’t know what we’d do without you, Karen, doing all this important research stuff so we don’t have to … and more importantly, avoid potential problems. So, thank you for this informative post!

    What bothers me is I’m sort of naive when it comes to advertising and tend to believe companies WAY too much. (Meaning that if a company says on their label “never clogs” or something similar, I’ll buy it.). From now on, I’ll pay more attention and buy the cheap stuff even if I have to replace the roll more frequently, it’s a heck of a lot better than a plumber’s bill. I’m going to pass this information on to my married children. Again, thank you!

  22. MissChris SA says:

    Whoever thought human waste disposal and it’s requirements could make such an interesting read!!!

    I will have to test our local brands as well – will let you know the results!

    Have a great day!

  23. B.L.H. says:

    25 years or so ago, my daughter did a Science Fair project titled, Is Your Charmin Harming? It was basically this same experiment, with the conclusion that Charmin probably was not the best choice for our environment. It did not dissolve very well.

  24. Josephine says:

    When the thicker toilet papers came out I thought I was in heaven. Until I thought about it. Our house was built in 1878. We quickly stopped buying them. A couple of weeks ago my mother-in-law’s sewer backed up. Told hubby to find out what toilet paper she was using as the last time I was there I thought it was quite thick. Yes she had to pay someone to clean her line.

    • Denise Hosner says:

      I have a friend in Wisconsin who will only buy Scott tissue because nothing else dissolves. When I visited, I was not allowed to flush the “flushable” Equate brand of wipes. (walmart).

      • Shannon says:

        I agree with your friend. You should NEVER flush those “flushable” wipes. The do not break down. I have them at home and I put them in the trash after use.

  25. Marna says:

    Good to know! I have wondered how well the tp of today was compared to many years ago. My husband and sons were always causing overflows, was probably the tp. Thanks

    • How many years ago are we talking? At one time it was the Eaton’s catalogue 😉 Before that, big soft leaves (watch for poison ivy).

      • Lavendershrub says:

        It wasn’t so long ago that in UK we had Izal and Bronco, in individual sheets in square packets. This was the ONLY product of toilet paper during the war (WWII) and FOREVER before WWII. I kid you not, it was like tough cake tin lining paper. Maybe OK for “backside” but soaked up absolutely nothing at front. By the 1960s, tissue paper we are used to today, started to be manufactured in UK. Don’t know which decade US started having it. My mother thought she was being very economical and daring to fold a sheet of the new soft tissue around the sheet of Izal or Bronco. She thought she was getting the new softness along with the solid firmness/strongness of the old. This went on well into the 1980s. Needless to say, the family used soft only. And that was in a city with proper sewage disposal. I’ve lived deep in the country for 55 years. And with a septic tank. After this excellent informative article, I shall be changing my tp to Andrew or Kleenex which dissolves just like the middle glass in the photo. And read the “own brand” “ingredients” to see if they say it is dissolvable for septic tanks. LOADS of them around here. I live 5 miles from Stonehenge. Wonder what they used! Moss?

  26. Danee says:

    Living in rural Spain, I’ve lived in places with what is called a “green” toilet. the squeemish might need to look away now, what it is, is a hose pipe that runs down hill and away from the house (fairly large but still a hose pipe like an irrigation pipe) to an area of a particular kind of tree or cactus. NO toilet paper must ever be flushed down that pipe, the cacti “eat” the waste but can’t ·eat the paper, so what you do is have a little foot operated waste basket in the bathroom. My husband and I, without ever talking about it, always put the paper “dirty-side-down”, we also took turns taking out the garbage. The upside to all this was after the waste was eaten the water leached out into a grove of avocado trees, huge avocado trees, so full of avocados that after a couple of months of eating them for breakfast lunch and dinner, we would run into town and Mclove on a little McD——! Now we live near a village with a city water system and no avocado trees, I actually have to go to the store to buy avocados.

  27. Sharon Jones says:

    Wow, thank you for this post. I have a bowel problem, thus spend lots of time in the bathroom. I have until reading your article preferred good quality toilet paper, (it is kinder to ones’ s derriere). Will reassess the toilet paper next grocery shop.

  28. Paula says:

    Septic, very old septic here so this is great info for us, too. Thanks Karen.

  29. Kevin says:

    Two words: Japanese bidet.

    Hygenic, use tons less paper, and helps if you have personal plumbing problems.

  30. Tara says:

    Oh Karen, you’re always so timely with your posts! My husband and I put our house on the market earlier this month and we bought an RV that we’ll be living in full-time when the house sells as we venture across the United States and one of the things I was afraid of was giving up my luxury toilet paper from living in our home but this gives me the courage to venture into the one-ply world that will be RV living soon!

  31. Eileen says:

    We have septic pipes and had a serious backup when we bought the house, ten years of other peoples Stuff, yuk. Anyway, now: two tips, use SINGLE ply toilet paper, whatever brand, most likely store brand and Second, if you have a septic system, put a package of yeast powder in the septic once a month. You can either divide it up and flush it down each of your toilets or you can put it directly in the septic, should you have access to it easily. We not talking the little packets you use to make bread. It comes in 1 lb packages of yeast powder. We buy it at a discount store, locally. It’s about $6-8 and it breaks down the bacteria, etc. in the septic.

    • Jenifer says:

      My mom recently told me that my grandmother used to put yeast down her toilet once a month and never had an issue.
      I’m trying it!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Eileen! Thanks for the yeast tip, I’ll look into it. As far as 1 or 2 ply goes, the ply really doesn’t matter. Its the quality of the paper. The toilet paper in this experiment that dissolved well was surprisingly, 2 ply and the Cottonelle, the worst of the bunch is actually 1 ply. ~ karen!

    • Shannon says:

      Yup, my parents have been on a septic system for 45 years and have never had to have it pumped out due to an issue. They only use single ply TP and my Dad religiously puts a product called Septo-Bac down the system monthly. They also put any expired dairy (ie yogurt and milk) down

    • Cred says:

      I’ve read of people using yeast to maintain a septic system. But be careful of anecdotal evidence as the reasoning. I grew up in a house with a septic system that was never pumped, never any additives used and never had a problem for 20+years. My dad had called to have it pumped somewhere around 10yrs and the guy pulled the cover to check levels and said it was in great shape, good levels and suggested not pumping it since it could disrupt the ecology and thus create a problem. Another 10yrs later they had it pumped, on the request of the buyers, when they sold the house but the level was still good and functionally optimally. Our system and usage must have meet optimal conditions for breaking down the waste produced. But it isn’t evidence that not pumping the tank is the way to keep the septic system healthy, either. Many ideal conditions- drainage, location, water usage, poop habits (haha)- contributed to our optimally functioning system.
      Yeast doesn’t break down bacteria, it consumes sugar and starches, which only makes up a small percentage of the sludge in the tank- meaning it’s not likely doing much, if anything. Since some people do nothing and never had a problem, it’s hard to claim that yeast is really doing anything. I’ve made enough failed loves of bread to know that yeast can be a finicky beast- temperature and ratio are critical; I’d expect it would be difficult for the temperature and amount of yeast to the volume of the tank, to be optimal for it to work.
      Anaerobic bacteria and enzymes breaks down solids so in fact you don’t want to put in anything that would kill the bacteria in the system. Things like mouthwash, drain openers and chlorine bleach will harm those beneficial bacteria that break down the solids. It is suggested that bleach be kept to a minimum or eliminated to keep a system healthy.
      It is likely better to use an alternative to bleach and avoid using a garbage disposal (it add solids to septics) to improve your system rather than introducing additives to your tank.
      Sorry, I hope this isn’t coming off preachy or know-it-all-ish, just wanting to share something that may be useful to he conversation.

    • Lavendershrub says:

      We were told by the septic tank installer, to NEVER use bleach down the toilet and hence into the septic tank, is it KILLS all the bacteria NEEDED in a septic tank to make it work. Not to get rid of bacteria!

  32. Ann says:

    Such a fun and timely post.

    I am a good customer at Kroger’s, one of our big local grocery chains. They send out targeted coupons to good customers monthly. One of those coupons is often for a free 6 pack of the store brand of bathroom tissue. I love that cheapie stuff. I have gone for the cheapie stuff now for years cause I hate how the really thick stuff just sits in the bowl and seems to take up so much room. And it wouldn’t do for anyone to not flush just once and come back to use again before flushing cause that premium stuff just seemed so bulky sitting there in the water. I have never had the cheapie stuff break apart in my hand or cause me to not feel clean enough. And I don’t often have to use any more than I would of the premium.

    Bless you for taking on such a real task of evaluating toilet tissue!!

  33. Different Mike says:

    We (those of us who live in countries that have sophisticated public sewage sytems) are blessed so much that we take for granted the ability to “flush”. Many countries would never think to flush, however, to know what papers will disolve could be very helpful to them as well as we privileged ones. Also, why has there never been a course on “how much” paper to use at any one time. Some use almost a whole roll at a sitting! It may not matter “what” paper they use because of the amount used. Thanks, again, Karen, for a timely and wise and useful post!

  34. Kim C says:

    I slapped myself on the forehead after reading this! Probably twice a month I am unclogging the toilet after my teenaged daughters have visited the loop. Never even gave the paper a thought but now that you’ve brought it up, I’m sure the TP is partially to blame as it does appear to remain intact for a long time.
    I will be happy to spend less to save thousands on a potential plumbing disaster!??

    My daughter needs to create a knee joint model for Exercise Science class so she can use up the fancy TP for paper macho until her heart’s content.

  35. OR… could, at very low expense, install a portable bidet hose next to the toilet and wash off every time. Wash off very well and use an old wash cloth (which you change every day) to pat dry. Problem solved!

  36. Diane says:

    Fun topic.
    Personally, I live in the country and have a septic tank (OMG) and care for it like it is a favorite child…no bleach, or food waste (I compost).
    Regarding TP, I cut what goes down by half, by simply placing #1 TP into the trash can, not down the toilet. Only # 2 TP goes down the hole.
    Think this is gross? Not at all.
    I also have a burn barrel here, and burn TP trash and things like butter wrappers once per week.

  37. Paul says:

    I really thought logorrhea was going to be something to do with toliet paper. Thank you for making me look up the word!

  38. Michelle says:

    I have always bought the cheap thin stuff. My husband has always complained. Poor guy wanted to wipe with a quilt but since we have moved to the second house with septic instead of sewer I think my cheapness has paid off. Our house we sold just over a year ago had zero septic problems… not one issue. This house is going to be bad so far $5k in septic repairs and still not right. I think the bachelor fireman may have liked to wipe his arse on quilts too. So sad. Used to have a little crush on fireman and one man is ruining that. But to your credit I back your research up! You are right on the mark! Now please tell some firemen. Maybe convince them their houses should have smoke detectors and proper wiring too.

  39. Jenifer says:

    I used to be something of a toilet paper snob, I wanted the quilt. Times have changed. A house built in 1870 and potty training 2 girls, I decided the thin (Scott’s original) stuff was the way to go even if they used 3 times as much! At least it would break down and the potty training remained simple. ..just not necessarily easy. 🙂

  40. Ei says:

    I did this same experiment at home to show my then 7 year old son why it was NOT ok to put nose tissues or paper towels into the toilet.
    And as for my daughter: No tampons! Don’t get me started!
    “But Mom it says on the box it’s ok….”.
    “No, its not. Never. We have a septic tank.”
    ” But Moooomm! That’s eeewwwww!”
    -A plumber’s niece.

  41. Mel says:

    Yay! Good to know that me being cheap also is better for my plumbing. Thanks for doing this post!
    Okay so I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a bit of a hippie (the cloth diapering, breastfeeding, kombucha making, rag weilding, menstrual cup wearing, toxin avoiding, herb taking, granola baking kind). I use cloth wipes on my two sons that are in cloth diapers so I thought, hmm, why I use cloth wipes for myself? So I repurposed some old fabric by cutting and sewing into squares and I use that. Only for number ones though. Number twos get (cascades or kirkland) toilet paper. I’m not that green, lol. I have a wet/dry bag I store them in and wash with the diapers. It isn’t gross at all. And you are washing every 2-3 days so I don’t find it gets stinky. It saves tons of money, reduces all the transportation and processing issues AND it won’t clog your pipes!

    • Karen as well says:

      Although my children are in their 20’s and eek! early 30’s, I have followed the same path as you Mel, for environmental reasons. Now, trying to stop all the disposables coming into my home! I have been considering using cloth wipes just as you do, but your post has been the nudge I needed. Otherwise, I have to give a big thumbs up to Cascades (Ultra Quilted) which has just passed Karen’s Mason Jar test with complete disintegration and has always used recycled fibres.

  42. marilyn says:

    great post karen, we are on a septic system so always have to be aware. the only bad thing about the cheapies is that you tend to use twice or three times as much which can sometime negate the positive! however there are some middle brands which are a happy medium..thanks for spotlighting something that most people would not even think about!

    • Karen says:

      Hey Marilyn! Using twice as much doesn’t really matter actually because it will always dissolve. The better stuff just doesn’t dissolve no matter what. It just sits there. Like a toilet paper statue for all eternity. ~ karen!


    Yep, replaced every inch of sewer piping under my house. The details involved tunneling and cameras, and more tunneling, and pipe hangers, and pipe, pipe, and more pipe, then backfilling and stomping.

    There were also a LOT of tears.

    Alas, the pipes were not clogged with TP (I use the Charmin, btw), but were ‘bellied’ by the shifting foundation – hello good ol’ Texas clay soils.

    I still hyperventilate at the memory, so thanks for the recurrence of PTSD (post-toilet-stress-disorder), Karen.

  44. Phyllis Kraemer says:

    Is there a relation between the “ply” #…and the “cheapie cost”….

    • Karen says:

      No ma’am. Cheap can either be one or two ply. It has more to do with the thickness of each individual sheet and I suppose how they’re held together. Maybe the length of the paper strands? Dunno. But the cheap stuff I’m using is 2 ply. ~ karen!

  45. Ellen says:

    But…but think of your poor bottom?!? :O
    If it’s one “luxury” I afford myself it’s a soft bathroom tissue. I dare say if you’ve never suffered from a fissure…you can’t relate. ugh

    • Kim from Milwaukee says:

      I buy the store brand and it’s soft enough to use on the nose, so don’t discount them because they’re inexpensive….I wouldn’t waste money on the brand names.

  46. Wendy says:

    Okay. I get that you don’t want your toilet to clog. But, the trouble with the cheap stuff is that it also disintegrates while you’re using it, doesn’t it? I mean, it feels awful, and then you can’t actually clean yourself because it shreds as you’re going.
    I work in a school. Cheap, cheap, cheap. And the toilets are always being plugged by wretched children.
    I think cheap shoes, cheap bags and cheap toilet paper aren’t worth the savings. But that’s just me.

    • Karen says:

      It’s not about saving a few dollars on cheap toilet paper Wendy. It’s that cheap toilet paper can indeed and has on many occasions lead to either a quick $500 fix or in a lot of cases the digging up of your entire sewer system at a cost of anywhere from $5,000 – $15,000, when in fact, all you needed to do was buy the right toilet paper. It’s not about cheap. It’s about the “right” toilet paper. In this case the fact that’s it’s cheap is secondary to the fact that it actually behaves the way toilet paper is supposed to behave, which is to dissolve. And not all cheap toilet paper dissolves in your hand while using it. The stuff I’ve bought doesn’t. ~ karen!

  47. Barb says:

    Good information, especially for those of us with septic systems. Now for the “other” great TP controversy…do you hang it with the loose end over the roll or under? You can tell at our house who filled the roller last!

  48. Cred says:

    Never had given this much thought so thanks for the research. I usually follow the sale price and stock up. I think the past, I had used enviro-friendly TP, to do my part but had stopped recently due to info about what recycled paper may go into that TP. (that’s a different story that most people wouldn’t worry about)
    Since switching to conventional brands, I had noticed that some of them break down before flushing- the paper appears shredded are it swirls away. I never thought of it as an advantage, it was just an observation. Now I will have to check which brand it was since it was a sale, it wasn’t the cheapy kind but I just don’t know which one.
    Thanks for bringing this to our attention, you may have spared many a great disaster and expense.

    • Cred says:

      Just did a quickie test with what I’d last bought on sale. Royale original- 2 ply double rolls. I just ran the tap over it in the sink and it immediately broke up (mind you that had some force from the tap but still that without any time- so pretty good).
      This one does claim to be flush friendly- dissolves 5x quicker. Had never read that before; however, as you prove with the Charmin, marketing claims cannot always be relied on)
      And as you explain, it does the job without breaking apart beforehand. It’s not pillowy soft but it’s not that wretched scratchy stuff either. I’d say it’s a pretty acceptable compromise for your plumbing’s sake.

  49. Mike says:

    Thanks for the invaluable research, Karen. Now I’ll have a scholarly-sounding answer when house guests ask why I buy cheap-ass toilet paper.

  50. SusanO says:

    The problem with the cheap stuff is that it starts to dissolve while it’s still in your hand and on your… well you get the picture. That can be very irritating in more ways than one. I would say go with Charmin.

  51. Lynn says:

    Just to way in on TP subject, cheap tp uses short strands in sheets there fore they break down faster . The plush tp uses long strands so (a) they feel softer (b) take longer to break down (c) if they have lotion it takes even longer to break down due to the oils infused in the tissue . What feels good on your bottom does not come close to how it feels having money to get something you love , rather than flushed down the drain !

  52. trish says:

    Just had Roto Rooter service last week…your TP info is greatly appreciated !!!
    Ditto on the Baby wipes that do major clogging damage !

  53. Shannon says:

    Well thanks a lot, I just stocked up on fancy toilet paper yesterday! 😉

    This makes so much sense, and I never even thought about it. I’m with some other commenters who mention how the cheapo stuff breakdown down on your rear (leaving little blobs of paper behind, stuck where you can’t see…uh, yuck), but maybe I have to reconsider. Tough choices here!

  54. Bols says:

    No surprise there. I think that the addition of the aloe vera is also a factor. It prevents the TP from absorbing water (or at least it slows the process down). Did you every try use to a kleenex with added lotion to wipe up a spill? It does not absorb water (coffee, tea, any liquid) nearly as well as regular kleenex. And when I say kleenex, I mean any brand, not just Kleenex.
    I never buy expensive TP because it’s literally money down the toilet. 🙂
    This week, Food Basics has a 24-roll pack on sale for $3.99 (the store brand). That’s the one I am buying.

  55. Nancee says:

    Once again, I got a good laugh out of your post! I’m afraid I have similar conversations, we several different voices and opinions. Unfortunately, I sometimes talk aloud, so I must sound pretty odd.
    However, as much as I’m sure the cheapo TP dissolves more, and is easier on the plumbing, I prefer to NOT use TP that feels like sand paper. And because it’s so thin, it usually takes more to do the “job”.
    If I were a normal person, with a normal internal system, I might be able to use the sand paper TP. But I’m “blessed” to have a seriously whacked out internal system, so I’m in that water closet a lot. I want the middle brand~~soft on the tush and still dissolves sufficiently.
    I’m sharing your blog; I feel sure others have these conversations too. And I’m sure my friends will enjoy seeing your experiment. I experiment like this a lot too, so they’ll like seeing someone else doing this for once.

  56. JackieVB says:

    Good info here, I’m definitely going to do the water test with my Kirkland brand that I use. A few years ago I had to replace the toilet and my son was always clogging the other one – his method is to spin the toilet paper roll so he gets all that he thinks he needs. Anyway, I opted to get a Toto (the cheap end not the high end one) that has a vacuum system that helps push the water out. But as you’ve proven here, it isn’t helping with any problem of the TP getting stuck in the pipes where it becomes an expensive mess.

  57. Valerie says:

    Given the number of replies to this post you have scored a royal flush.

  58. Eileen says:

    As much as I love the premium brands, I’ve never bought them. I’ve used Scott all my life. It’s not my favorite but I know what damage the premium brands have caused especially with the low-flow toilets. We have 2 (out of 4) toilets that are high speed flushers (Gerber- they’re like airplane toilets – hold on tight!) so I could probably use the good stuff but hubby does the Costco/BJ’s shopping in our house we buy TP by the case. Several people I know who used Charmin, etc. had major plumbing problems because of them. I know a few plumbers who try to discourage people from using the expensive brands. (You’d think they’d wanna keep quiet so they could make more money by doing the repairs. Darn plumbers. Too honest.)

    Karen, I bet you never expected so many responses to your post!

    Also, your posters/responders have such a great sense of humor. I particularly like the PTSD (Post Toilet Stress Disorder) designation!

  59. Jennie Lee says:

    I’d like to give thanks to whoever designed and built my house. It is 66 years old, and to my knowledge, has never had a clogged toilet. It has a huge copper pipe that it drains into. I had 2 new toilets installed 2 years ago. I use Charmin Ultra-strong, because it doesn’t tear while I’m using it, but I only use a few sheets at a time, because that’s all you need. I also use Cottonelle bathroom wipes, but never more than one at a time, and I do flush them. I’ve found that they keep my bum cleaner and happier. The new toilets usually work well, (and quickly!), but if they don’t flush completely, I do it a second time. In the 70s I had a landlord who forbid his tenants to use Cottonelle toilet paper, so I’ve been aware of the situation for a long time. In my experience, most clogging problems are caused by people using WAY too much toilet paper. And it’s hard to blame them, when the paper tears to bits while you’re wiping! After having that happen, no wonder people use a huge wad! Houses are like people; they’re all different. Your article will undoubtedly help people with drain problems to THINK about why it happens, which is the first step toward a solution.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jennie! I just want to clarify. Using too much toilet paper isn’t the issue. It isn’t. You’ve got a lucky situation where you have good pipes and probably a good slope to your sewer. But it’s definitely the brand of toilet paper and whether or not it dissolves that’s the important issue. Not how much you use. Trust me. I’ve done way more research than anyone should have to do on toilet paper for this post. 🙂 ~ karen!

      • Jennie Lee says:

        I respect your opinion, Karen. One reason I blame using too much, though, is that I used to work in a drug store which was in an old building. It was small and didn’t have a public restroom, but at times we would let a customer in immediate need use the employee restroom. Over the course of a number of years, the ONLY times it ever clogged up was when a customer used a ridiculous amount of toilet paper. The employees knew better, and never caused a problem. We used toilet paper provided by the company; always the same kind.

    • Eileen says:

      It’s a little scary to me that your former landlord forbid his tenants to use Cottonelle! I understand his concern but wow! That’s crazy!

  60. Jeannieb says:

    I usually just buy my toilet paper according to price without much attention to brand. But, after buying Cottenelle I realized that I could be creating a problem with the house plumbing. The tp seemed thick and didn’t tear at the perforations. Then, I thought to myself, wasn’t it Cottenelle that had the commercials showing wedding dresses made out of their product? And let’s face it. You wouldn’t, couldn’t and shouldn’t try flushing a wedding dress down the crapper.

  61. Connie says:

    Thank you Karen for this Post. I read each and every response and it seems that in the end it really doesn’t seem to matter what kind of house you live in, what kind of toilet you have, pipes, drains, or t.p. paper you flush, good or bad, whether it works or it doesn’t work with Grandma’s recipe; what are we really doing to the earth with all these papers, tissues, and wipes? Take a shower say some, use an old wash cloth say others. Where would you do this at work?
    We will continue with our daily bodily problem the best we can, some with concern and some with “I will use what I want” attitude, because its never clogged my toilet. I think most of us are conscious of the fact that it’s our home and our land and we care. Good grief, I can almost hear America The Beautiful playing in the background. Thanks you for bringing us all together to discuss this subject. Keep bringing it on, Karen.

  62. billy sharpstick says:

    Do like the rest of the world does. Put your TP in the trash. Remove it daily. Better yet, get a bidet.
    We have an ancient fragile septic tank. It will cost $7000 to retire it and hook up to local sewer. I tried thin one ply TP and it falls apart in my hands, so we get whatever paper we like. BTW, if you have a septic tank, you SHOULD NOT use a disposal. Septic tanks are not designed to handle that much compost. YMMV.
    Most Americans will be disgusted by my opinions on this, so feel free to ignore.

  63. Jamie says:

    You folks need to learn how to make a TP sandwich. Use as much cheapo TP on the inside and wrap a strip of 2 sheets of YP plush around it. I use the plush for the bum and I throw the all cheapo TP used for liquids only, into a lined bathroom trash bucket. The brown goes down the pipe.

  64. martha welch says:

    I had a plumber recommend using Scotts toilet paper years ago for that very reason. Been using it ever since with no plumbing issues.

  65. Mary says:

    Off to the bathroom to give my Kirkland brand a test.

  66. Carole says:

    In the last few months, Consumer Reports magazine did a report on toilet paper. One of the things they judged was how it broke down. Since I didn’t keep the magazine I can’t check which paper scored the highest. It seems that it was a Wal-mart brand, but I am not sure.

  67. Trish says:

    I was reading recently about how you should NEVER flush anything but toilet paper in your toilet and that includes all brands of tissues as they are not made to breakdown as toilet paper is.

  68. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Great post Karen…I don’t ever what to have that expense again…Over $1000 to replace the sewer line pipe…

  69. Stephanie Hobson says:

    Today’s ad. Charmin – Clog Free or It’s Free. LOL

  70. Kelli says:

    I’m in control,
    My worries are few,
    ‘Cause I got TP like I never knew,
    Poo, poo, poo, poo, pooo…
    I got a new attitude! 🙂

  71. Mary W says:

    My father was licensed to test and build/repair sewage treatment plants. He said the best thing to use was CHEAP toilet paper and never, ever, ever “feminine protection items” no matter what the manufacturer said. Since we have been on septic system for 50 years, it was important that we followed his advice. Whether or not he was right – it has paid off. Hard to get my daughter to give up her extra soft butt wipes but she finally did when getting on a budget and miraculously, no more clogged pipes. As an aside – I named my female guard dog Maxi – she was my feminine protection.

  72. Hahaha This was a good one which I will forward to my sister as we were just talking about toilet paper yesterday. I buy the sandpaper brand which like your cheap stuff, dissolves quickly as we live in the country and have a septic field. My sister lives in the same setting but buys the plush kind…like a blanket. Now I can justify my choice to her as you have spelled it out in plain English….the cheap stuff is the best! Cheers for a great post.

  73. vicki says:

    the boy (9 yrs old): is that science?
    me: … why yes. it IS!

  74. mia pratt says:

    What a great experiment! Now I know which TP to buy. Thank you Karen<:} I must admit that I, too, have a secret curiosity about toilet paper, one that now I feel safe to reveal (without shame) to this TP-supportive group. I always wondered what kind of toilet paper I could buy that would not leave some kind of poisonous chemical on my arse, which might lead to some terrible arse-eating disease (this despite having no problem using red lipstick, which I'm sure had many terrible cancerous ingredients.) Of course I don't often use lipstick on my arse, so there's no real comparison to be had. Anyhoo, I know that some TPs add un-spellable chemicals to make it dissolve faster in septic systems, so ever since I discovered this, I've had this tiny little thought haunting the back of my mind whenever I go…am I poisoning my arse? If so, how shall it be fixed? Removal? Radiation? At which time my mind flashes disturbingly to images of how, exactly, one would position themselves to receive arse radiation; it's not pretty. I eventually changed over to natural baby wipes to solve this crisis of imagination, which did alleviate my internal arse-safety dialogue; however, unfortunately, I now have to deal regularly with clogged pipes!

    • Laura says:

      Have you ever considered a bidet? I haven’t tried one yet, keep hoping I will stay in a fancy hotel which has them. But, they seem like a smart thing for women especially. For those buying wipes you’d likely save your plumbing and all that paper.

      • mia pratt says:

        Actually I LOVE a bidet; great idea Laura<:} I got used to them in France way back when, and I've wanted one ever since! I have since resolved my wet-wipes problem by installing a little foot-pedal-opening trash bin in my bathroom, to toss away the wipes. Now, no more wipes in the pipes<:}

        • billy sharpstick says:

          We have one bidet. I’m so spoiled! They do have bidet toilet seats that you can install on a regular toilet. They start at $22. But if you want one with the warm water option, the price goes up.

  75. Roxanne says:

    I have always purchased Scott toilet paper. That being said, I also keep a container of wipes on hand in the bathroom for those occasions that necessitate, um, a more thorough cleaning – and I never, ever discard the wipes in the toilet.

    BTW: Yes, tampons are The Kiss of Death for plumbing. Landlords can get quite testy when they have to pay to have pipes snaked or replaced that have been snarled and clogged by tenants’ tampons.

    My daughter also said, “Ewwww!” to disposing her tampons in the trash can. My solution – keeping on hand disposable (and biodegradable) paper bags for sanitary pads:

  76. Kat says:

    Well you did it again Karen! I have been sick for over a week now and the last couple of days have been the worst. But reading all the comments on this particular post has got me over the critical hump to recovery. I did however roll out of bed to test my own cheap ass toilet paper while sneezing, shivering and hacking all over the place and was proud it passed. I use the Presidents Choice Plus, 2 ply and after just 5 minutes stirred it up it was totally shredded apart into pieces I could not pick up with my fingers. Good post and once again great photography!

  77. Jenn says:

    We are on a well so we have always checked our toilet paper this way (well, I put it in a jar and shake it to avoid waiting the half hour). When Cottenelle changed their paper, I re-tested and lo! It does not break down anymore. Trying to find a soft, strong paper that breaks down good enough for septic and well is a challenge. I finally found my winner – I’m not a fan of big box stores with memberships, but Costco’s Kirkland toilet paper is amazing. Love it, and my plumbing with the low well water pressure loves it too.

  78. Julie says:

    omg, my husband bought the “ultra-luxurious bum comforters” for the cottage, no less! 8 adults and 6 kids all sitting around at 10:00 at night in the northern tip of PEI with no useable toilet in sight while their uncle unclogged the toilet with an inflatable bouncy ball because there was no plunger. Holy cow, don’t buy the good stuff!

  79. Randall L McDaniel says:

    Julie..Too coin a phrase from SNL..Dan Ackroyd…”you ignorant slut”. eight adults +6pups ate their fill like mama…HOLY Cow they like mama…emptied their colons. Holy was the paper…uncle saved the day “no mention of uncles name” Shame on you..

  80. coralcrue says:

    this is such a great post and an eye-opening one!

  81. Laura says:

    I buy the cheap store brand because the name brands pill up and that really bugs me. We had plumbing trouble a couple of years ago. Had to get the sewer connection to the house changed, not caused by a clog just old pipes. Since then the only clog we had was caused by coffee grounds. They can build up like concrete the plumber said. So I’ve been trying to throw them out on the grass instead. Not such a great option now with snow on the ground though.

  82. Alyssa says:

    Please don’t take this the wrong way, but this may actually be my most favourite post of yours to date. (Sorry, Uncle Shifty’s Antijito’s) We moved into an old home, and our toilet has backed up AT LEAST once a week for 7 solid months. Sorry I said solid. We have littles who don’t always flush, and I had noticed the TP wasn’t breaking down but hadn’t made the connection. I literally took back the 80% full pack of TP I just bought from Costco the next day and bought the cheapest brand I could find. I owe you my eternal gratitude.

    • Karen says:

      Remember to check to see that it does break down Alyssa! Just because it’s cheap doesn’t guarantee it will break down. It’s a good sign, lol, but not a guarantee. if you’re in Canada the BEST brand I’ve found in my never ending quest is Cascades. In the States it’s Scotts. (Or Cascades if they sell it there too) I have literally done toilet paper tests from different brands every single day since this post went up and prior to it. Just ask my neighbour who just left my house. I subjected her to a toilet paper test. And my 6 year old niece who was here earlier, lol. Ditto for her. ~ karen!

      • Alyssa says:

        I bought the no name Superstore brand, and it dissolves in minutes! I definitely made sure, I watched it like a hawk. And I don’t think I’ve ever felt so cheery about my toilet before. ?

  83. billy sharpstick says:

    One thing to remember when the toilet backs up when you flush: NEVER FLUSH A SECOND TIME!!! until the water seeps back down to normal level. Seems like common sense, but I know someone who did that. There was some – uh – substance abuse involved, so he was sort of excused. Well, not really. We made him clean it up.
    Basically, toilets are designed so the tank water will only fill the bowl to the rim from normal level. So, unless water etc. is actively pushing back up from below, it won’t overflow. If it IS pushing back up from below, turn on a radio, you are probably under a hurricane evacuation alert.

  84. Katharine McEwen says:

    Hello. Interesting subject. Personally I think everyone should have their own septic system, have to dispose of their own garbage instead of just letting the garbage fairy take it away and kill their own animal or whatever they’re having for supper.
    Just making a point here, that sometimes people don’t think about what they’re putting in the environment. They just keep buying tons of “plastic” non recyclable items, items with excessive packaging and when it comes to toilet paper, “whatever is the softest for their poor bum.
    Maybe everyone should take a trip to where the “soft” toilet paper ends up. This would be the treatment plants.
    People have just become so unaware of what they are doing to the planet. Every time you flush, where is it going? Does the toilet fairy just turn it into sugar cubes?? This is a great article to raise awareness about an even greater issue. Environmental responsibility!

  85. Ruth hirsch says:

    a chance to tell a favored story.
    And a story containing both humor and meeting, words not often cheek by jowl….. (your choice of which cheek)

    We had monthly meetings. First part was typically administrivia. At t this meeting, our Exec Direct rose, and pronounced, that while we usually covered other topics. she needed to touch on the toilet. there had been a clog problem she announced.

    “Please do not allow anything but toilet paper in the toilets.”

    susan M, white haired, Mary Worth look alike, murmured (loud enough to hear) “Well, that sort of defeats the whole purpose, doesn’t it?”

  86. Oh the heartbreak: Cotonelle with its restrained grid pattern is the Architect’s Choice – florals are so cheesy!

  87. Janay says:

    I read this post a few weeks ago and thought … Huh … Interesting … Did nothing about it! So foolish – the vintage toilets & pipes in our 1959 home apparently can’t handle the Kirkland brand and we had quite the mess. I experimented and that brand also failed your 30 minute soak & stir test.

    • Karen says:

      That’s funny because I *just* tested the Kirkland brand for an upcoming Part II of the toilet paper tests. The Kirkland did eventually break down but it took a lot of stirring and mixing. A lot. I’ll let you in on the secret winner of the test. It’s Cascades toilet paper which you can get at Loblaws/Fortinos. It’s fantastic. Costco sells it in bulk online but I haven’t seen it in store. ~ karen!

  88. Caroline says:

    Thanks for “going there.” You know, I never thought about the subject until a couple of years ago, when I tried a 3-Ply from Great Northern, and quickly discovered, to my dismay, that this toilet paper was a clogger. Twice in a week, my bowl nearly ranneth over. It never had before. I am moderate to conservative in my square usage, and nothing had changed except switching to that 3-Ply.

    After that second near disaster, I eyed that bundle with a narrowed eye-swivel and stopped using it.

    Sometimes, less is more. 🙂

    P.S. I have not done the test yet, but my favorite brand for a while now is Member’s Mark (Sam’s). Never had a clog issue, decent texture, low price.

    Wow. I am so thankful for indoor plumbing, though. The things we take for granted.

  89. We buy very few disposable items such as paper towels and sponges, so I with the money saved, I don’t mind spending a little extra on TP. Comfort isn’t quite as big a deal for me as the responsibly sourced and preferably recycled. However, if my husband buys it, he just gets the cheapest stuff. I saw “No Impact Man”, who went a year without any TP, and since I’m NOT willing to take ‘green’ that far, I’ll settle for any comfort level just to have my disposable TP

  90. Cas says:

    While I am finding your post interesting I would like to know if you have since looked into, whether buying cheaper and therefore thinner sheets of TP means that people tend to use more sheets per visit. In my household we do. I estimate we use about one and a half times more paper than with more expensive TP. If that is the case might not the increased “load” have the opposite effect the desired one?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cassie. It doesn’t really matter in this case if they use more or not. The toilet paper dissolves. Whether it’s a whole whack of it or a few small pieces. So no, even big clumps won’t be a problem. ~ karen!

  91. Rosa says:

    OMG this post is awesome. I have always hated that fluffy TP stuff, used to be because there’s like 7 sheets on a roll. Give me a break. New roommate has brought the vile fluffy stuff into the house but I let it stay because I thought I was just being quirky and weird. But now that I live in a 90+ year old house and had to have the plumber out this morning, I have real empirical facts and not just my own opinion about how and why that stuff sucks. I’ll stick to my cheapo Scott tissue, that has like one layer but gets the job done. Thank you for this post justifying my fluffy TP ban!

  92. Melissa says:

    I use a bidet attachment to the toilet. About $60 on Amazon. After #1 I towel dry, no toilet paper used at all. After #2 I do one or two toilet paper wipes to ensure maximum cleanliness prior to towel drying. I use “special” hand towels as my “bidet towels”. As they are only ever used for that purpose. I absolutely love having a bidet! I’ve never been cleaner and I spend so much less on toilet paper! I imagine if I had pipe issues they’d be gone now too!

  93. Jay Schwartz says:

    A Roto-Rooter plumber told me not to use 3-ply toilet paper because that thickness causes clogs. What ply toilet papers were used in the “test” and what ply and brand do you recommend?

    Originally, I bought a huge package of 3-ply toilet paper from Costco, before I found out this stuff can clog. What I now do is crumple up each one after using and toss into a wastebasket. (This also is done in Mexico.) No more potential sewer-line clogs. PROBLEM SOLVED!

    : )

  94. Jim says:

    I’m still perplexed after reading all the replies. We have always used Charmin in the house in NY, and we “never” cleaned out the septic tank and never had problems for the 27 years before selling it. I bought the house new, and had 6 of us living there. We had to clean the septic tank out and flush the lines before the buyer bought the house and there were absolutely no problems with using the Charmin in all the 27 years. According to the septic company and the town inspector, the tank and leach lines were great.

    Now, in Florida, we still have been using Charmin and the leach lines have given way and are leaking after 14 years. (Hadn’t had the tank pumped for the first 6 years of living here, then every 3 years since). Still not sure what caused the line leak, as the DIL (daughter in law) drove the small car over the lines to unload the groceries, so that may have been the problem. Started leaking after about a week or two after the driving mishap.

    The whole leach line system is being replaced in a couple of weeks (middle of December) and will cost a total of $2500, OTD (out the door) (total price).

    My problem with using a quick dissolving TP is that we always use TP that is wet with water for wiping the butt. Charmin works great for that without dissolving. Some of us have stinky poo and if the butt isn’t wiped with wet TP, I’d hate to be around us with the after smell. (sorry for the descriptive wording). With Charmin, we use three sheets, folded to make 4 sheets. Holds together very nicely when wet. I expect Scott’s would take 10-20 sheets to do that. Yep, I know the story that it’s the dissolving, not the paper strength that is the answer. Got that!

    My thoughts are, “why does it really matter if it dissolves instantly” A half hour or two hours, or 4 hours, when it will be sitting in the septic tank and dissolve way before heading towards a leach line.

    Regarding Rid-X or some other additives, including yeast. One septic company ( says “You do not need to put special additives into your septic system. Those which advertise that they will remove solids from your tank usually do. The solids exit the tank and end up in the disposal field. Once there, the solids seal off the disposal area, and the system malfunctions.”

    I don’t know any answers for anything I wrote here and am still trying to make a personal decision what to do next. I do not doubt anyone’s postings here and still have to make some decisions for the 6 of us here at the house. Not sure if any of this helps as it still hasn’t straightened me out. I do know that the 5 others here will fight me tooth and nail if I make a change to the one ply top branded TP (Scotts or other) as they are all used to the soft Charmin.

    One other note: I had to repeat to the grand daughter, her husband, and my daughter-in-law not to throw the “disposable” wipes from the 2 year old into the toilet. Sounds like they have been doing that (forgetting what I said year’s ago) as their response was not very spectacular.

  95. Teri says:

    Okay this is nearly one year later but I’m slowly catching up on Karen’s older posts having only discovered the blog a few months ago. I have come to view Karen’s research as mandatory reading. As well, I read the comments both for further information and the humour.
    We are on septic and live in a rural, vacation destination area where wood stoves are commonly used for heating.
    Almost everyone has a polite sign by the toilet for their ‘city’ guests saying something along the lines of “In this land of fun and sun we never flush for #1. Toss the paper in the basket, there’s a reason why we ask it ”
    In winter our ‘basket’ is lined with a plain brown paper lunch bag that gets used as part of the daily kindling. In summer we use household compost liners (prefer the paper ones) and throw the whole shebang into the garden compost bins. It provides a good carbon addition that speeds along the process of turning vegetable matter into garden gold. Which produces food which, in turn, converts into the reason for this post in the first place. Life is a circle, everyone join hands and say ‘ohmmmm’.
    Kirkland rules in our house but I’m going to check out Cascades.

  96. Jim says:

    If I was living alone I would put all paper into the basket and would abide by the rule of not flushing for #1. Around here, everyone (5 others) would either say OK, but then wouldn’t abide, or just give me some constant argument that I’m full of what we are talking about. I guess the main thing is to have the tank religiously emptied every 2-3 years as the septic companies recommend, thereby getting by the chance of having problems. I did go 14 years without problems until the DIL ran over the septic lines. $185 every 3 years for septic tank draining isn’t too bad I guess and that is what I’ll be doing from now on.

  97. CeeCee says:

    I found this article while Googling plumbing stuff – we just moved into a pre-1950 house and the downstairs toilet backed up and flooded. Oh boy. Plumber comes out, snakes it and says it hit a ‘soft clog’ in the main sewer drain line which he was able to clear but is going to be an issue. He specifically told us to stop using Charmin or any other premium brand and to only use Scott toilet tissue. Only Scott TP and our um, waste, should go down the line. We’re also never going to use the garage disposal in the kitchen sink, just put a strainer in.

    • Karen says:

      Hey CeeCee! Sorry you had to call the plumber out, but at least it wasn’t your sewer lines! Yeah. NO more Charmin. 🙂 ~ karen!

  98. Bob says:

    I just spent a couple of weeks in Taipei, Taiwan – which is very much like Manhattan – a big, busy city, and discovered something very interesting. Everyone is asked to never flush TP down the toliet! All the TP gets neatly folded and put into a trash can. I traveled a lot while I was there and used numerous public restrooms and not once did I see or smell anything nasty in the waste cans. Everyone was very conscious of how they disposed of their TP. This might be an excellent method to use in a house with old or problem plumbing.

    What I’ve found with toliet paper that dissolves quickly is that it tends to leave little ‘dingle’ balls and tiny ‘rolls’ of paper behind (pun intended) ! These bits of TP are very irritating to the skin. I’ve only noticed this in the past few years and I think that a lot of TP manufactures have been changing their TP so that it will dissolve faster, and thus the paper trail.

    Personally, I find that I am sensitive to TP now. I miss the old fashioned TP that didn’t dissolve the moment it became damp!

  99. Brandon says:

    I was previously a renter. bought a home 3 years ago. since then, i’ve had reoccurring issues with the toilet not flushing and the toilet gurgling in the shower. went on the roof yesterday to check the plumbing vent pipe/stack – it was completely clear.

    after doing some thinking, i started to think maybe it was the “cottonelle” and “charmin” that I usually use. I now have Angel soft after plunging the toilet and everything is smooth again.

    your research has confirmed my suspicions, I will use angel soft from now on or some other brand that breaks down easily.

  100. emma says:

    Where I live, Cascades is not available in retail stores. So before i spend a lot of money purchasing online, is it possible for you to show a picture just how much it dissolves, so I can see how tiny are the pieces that are left behind? I did the test with angel soft and not much is left. I’m wondering if Cascades is indeed better. Just spent hundreds snaking out sewer line and i don’t want to repeat that! Thanks!

  101. Ang says:

    What about regular cottonelle? Could the aloe be acting as a water barrier?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ang! I’m afraid regular Cottonelle doesn’t break down either. The fibres are too long and solid. Part of the reason that toilet paper made from recycled material breaks down so easily is the fibres are broken and short. 🙂 ~ karen!

  102. juliette says:

    i’m glad you did all that. I was just about to do that (tests) myself and found your post. great. thanks. i’m the same way. when i see all that “luxurious”TP all I can think about is the potential for clogging…

  103. Lynn says:

    I just recently heard that the Kirkland brand was not good at breaking down so I returned our unopened bundle to Costco. I went to Superstore and purchased the large bundle of Cashmere. Even though it is the same size sheet, amount on the roll it is quite a bit smaller of a roll then Kirkland’s but in reading this I am wondering if you have tried the experiment with the Cashmere brand?

  104. Major Michael says:

    Writing from an apartment building in New York City I can attest that both Charmin and Cottonelle clog up our toilets ,I have had to use a snake in our system line to dissolve my sheer brutality that ‘premium” paper ,can’t imagine someone elderly who is not strong being able to
    free a toilet line using a mechanical snake every 2-3 days with Charmin.
    I have found drugstore off brands the best with minor snake and plunger corrective issues.

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