THE BRAND OF TOILET PAPER YOU SHOULD NEVER USE.

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 …

DOES YOUR TOILET PAPER DISSOLVE?

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.

 

toilet-paper-brands

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.

 

toilet-paper

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

tolet-paper-test

Then I added 2 cups of water to each jar.

toilet-paper-test-dissolving

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.

toilet-paper-test-dissolving-2

The results were amazing.

 

toilet-paper-test-dissolving-3

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.

toilet-paper-dissolving-test-charmin2

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.

toilet-paper-dissolving-test-cheap

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.

 

tilet-paper-test-dissolving-cottonelle

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.

 


189 Comments

  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.
      LuAnn

      • 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.

            https://youtu.be/QDZ7FOSN82k

            • 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.

    Connie

  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:
    https://youtu.be/–_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…..you 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!

  43. $12K…TWELVE THOUSAND DOLLARS…CASH MONEY…

    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.
    Wendy

    • 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.

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