Toilet paper review and compare

Finding a toilet paper that does its job is no simple matter.
 
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  • Updated:4 Sep 2008
 

01 .Introduction

Toilet paper

User trial of 27 toilet paper varieties

It’s easy to get lost in a sea of emotive images and tissue jargon in the supermarket aisle. While it’s impossible for shoppers to be entirely free from commercial influences, CHOICE decided to find out which brands consumers prefer when they’re stripped of their slogans and packages.

To do this, we enlisted the help of more than 300 CHOICE Home Testers to pick the best of 27 widely available brands.

Please note: this information was current as of September 2008 but is still a useful guide today.


Key findings 

  • With toilet paper you mostly get what you pay for: the pricier toilet paper options on the whole scored higher.
  • The Home Testers didn’t like most of the brands made from recycled paper, but one scored quite well and is our Green Buy.

Brands trialled

  • Black & Gold
  • Coles $mart Buy
  • Confidence
  • Dandy
  • Envirosoft
  • Home Brand
  • Eden
  • Kleenex
  • Naturale
  • Plush
  • Purex
  • Quilton
  • Quilton Gold
  • Sorbent
  • TreeFree
  • WonderSoft
  • Woolworths Select
  • You'll Love Coles

Missing brands

At the time of our research, one of the biggest manufacturers of recycled toilet paper, Merino, went into receivership. As a result, brands such as Safe and Bouquets weren’t included in the trial.

CHOICE tests are different. We buy the products we test — no freebies from manufacturers. Companies can't buy ads on our site and our work is funded by people like you.

 
 

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The following models scored the best results in our test 

What to buy
Brand Price *
QUILTON Gold $1.11
QUILTON 3 Ply $0.78
CONFIDENCE 3 Ply $0.78
QUILTON Unscented $0.82
QUILTON Double Length $0.78
Green buy
ENVIROSOFT 100% RECYCLED $0.71

Results table

Full results for all models are shown in the table below

Features Scores Cost
Brand / type (in rank order; number in brackets is the number of people who tried it) Ply Overall score (%) Softness score (%) Absorbency score (%) Price ($ per 250 sheets)
Quilton Gold (58) 4 86 91 89 1.11
Quilton (55) 3 84 85 84 0.78
Confidence (Aldi) (56) 3 79 80 83 0.78
Quilton Unscented (61) 3 79 78 75 0.82
Quilton Double Length (58) 3 78 76 78 0.78
You'll Love Coles (57) 3 75 78 75 0.69
Plush (60) 3 74 71 81 0.80
Sorbent (60) 2 74 75 73 1.09
Kleenex Cottonelle Double Length (61) (B) 73 82 73 0.88
Kleenex Cottonelle (64) (B) 73 82 76 1.10
Kleenex Cottonelle Hypo-allergenic Unscented (58) (B) 71 79 78 1.10
Woolworths Select Hypo-allergenic Double Length (62) 4 70 69 72 0.78
Envirosoft 100% Recycled (51) (A) 3 68 56 68 0.71
Sorbent Hypo-allergenic (58) 2 68 72 71 0.99
Confidence (Aldi) (59) 2 58 63 57 0.46
IGA Eden (55) 2 55 57 55 0.80
Black and Gold Printed (53) 2 54 59 55 0.57
Purex (53) 2 53 59 59 0.59
WonderSoft (56) 3 53 45 66 0.80
Dandy Value (52) 2 49 51 50 0.32
You'll Love Coles (56) 2 49 39 56 0.50
WonderSoft (60) 2 48 43 54 0.61
Naturale 100% Recycled (56) (A) 2 41 43 50 0.49
Dandy EnviroFriend (62) (A) 2 39 44 48 0.45
TreeFree (54) (A) 2 39 44 46 0.47
Home Brand (65) 2 37 55 37 0.50
Coles $mart Buy (56) 2 36 36 36 0.34
 

Table notes

(A) Recycled product
(B) Not listed on the packaging.

Overall score This is a score given by the Home Testers; it’s not an amalgamation of the other scores. See How we tested, below, for more on how the trialists rated the toilet rolls.

Price What we paid in February/March 2008. However, toilet paper is often on special, so check which brand is available at a good price every time you’re buying it.

How we tested

The trialists 318 CHOICE Home Testers were each sent five rolls of toilet paper with the packaging removed.

The toilet papers 27 widely available toilet paper products were chosen for the trial. For consistency, only the white version of each toilet paper was tested, except for BLACK AND GOLD Printed, which had no white version available. We didn’t include one-ply products.

The user trial Trialists tested one type of toilet paper at a time, using each for three days or until the roll ran out, whichever came first. Once they’d finished using each roll, they filled in a survey rating it for several factors, including softness, absorbency, strength, thickness, fragrance, appearance and ease of use. Then they gave each product an overall score.

At the beginning of the trial, the Home Testers filled in a survey about their buying habits and preferences, in which the four most important factors for toilet paper emerged as softness, absorbency, strength and thickness.

QUILTON GOLD

Price $1.11 per 250 sheets
Quilton gold
Trialist comments

  • “All that a toilet paper should be.”
  • “I found the paper very thick and wondered if it was really necessary and could be considered somewhat wasteful of our resources.”

QUILTON 3 Ply

Price $0.78 per 250 sheets
Quilton 3 ply
Trialist comments

  • “I would buy this toilet paper again. It lasted longest in a busy house and at the same time was soft and smooth. I liked it.”
  • “This toilet paper was very soft, [and] the fragrance was not too strong.”

CONFIDENCE 3 Ply Confidence

Price $0.78 per 250 sheets (from Aldi)

Trialist comments

  • “Being fussy about which toilet paper I use, I found this one to meet all my expectations, apart from the difficulty in starting the roll.”
  • “It tore evenly all the time and left no ‘toilet paper dust’ floating around.”

QUILTON UNSCENTED

Quilton unscented

Price $0.82 per 250 sheets

Trialist comments

  • “I buy recycled toilet paper, but this would be my choice if recycled wasn’t available.”
  • “Very surprising — looks so thin, but very strong.”

QUILTON DOUBLE LENGTH

Price $0.78 per 250 sheets
Quilton double length
Trialist comments

  • “This is a good-quality toilet paper. You don’t need much, which is a cost saver, and there is a lot on the roll.”
  • “This toilet paper roll was much longer, so less changing of rolls [was] involved, but it was very noticeable in the bathroom on the holder and stuck out from the wall a fair way. Fabulous paper, though.”

 

Green buy

ENVIROSOFT 100% RECYCLED

Envirosoft

Price $0.71 per 250 sheets

Trialist comments

  • “While it could have been softer, nevertheless it was stronger and absorbent.”
  • “The paper was very thick, which is quite luxurious but I would probably prefer a little bit thinner.”

The business of toilet paper

Toilet paper is big business, and for a product that fulfils a pretty simple function, the amount of technology and marketing effort that goes into the industry is surprisingly complex. With an annual turnover of $720 million and fierce competition between brands, it seems everybody has an opinion on what makes a perfect roll.

Nowadays we can choose from a huge variety of toilet paper — quilted, embossed, double-length, recycled, scented or unscented, plain or printed. There are rolls that cater to our environmental or comfort preferences and some even manage to satisfy our aesthetic whims.

To distinguish their products from each others’, manufacturers use buzzwords like ‘softness’ and ‘comfort’ in ads that feature puppies, cherubic babies and anything else that evokes the image of softness without getting into the delicate business of what they’re selling.

Toilet paper on trial

  • The brand that stood out in the user trial was QUILTON, which makes four out of five of the top-rated toilet rolls. In fact 41% of the Home Testers said QUILTON is the brand they usually purchase.
  • The second most commonly bought brand by trialists (34%), KLEENEX, came equal seventh and eighth with three of its Cottonelle options. In among the QUILTON products as a top performer was Aldi’s CONFIDENCE three-ply toilet roll, which came equal third overall and rated above average for factors such as thickness, absorbency, strength and ease of tearing the toilet paper off the roll.
  • The majority of trialists preferred products that are more than two sheets thick, with most of the two-ply products in the trial scoring significantly below average.
  • And although trialists didn’t know which brand they were testing or how much it cost, they mostly gave a higher overall score to the more expensive products.

Over or under?

One of the age-old toilet paper-related dilemmas is whether you should hang your toilet rolls with sheets rolling out over the top or underneath.

One theory is that hanging the toilet roll with the sheets coming over the top wastes less paper. This is because when the sheets are coming from under the roll, ripping the paper with one hand or an overzealous pull on the roll can leave half the roll on the floor.

Recycled can be soft

Traditionally, consumers have shied away from buying recycled toilet paper because of its coarser texture. But new players have entered the market with recycled products that are softer, and competitive with the premium market. These papers defy the old ‘sandpaper’ image and provide a more user-friendly option for those interested in trying greener products. One recycled product scored high enough to be in the What to buy list and is our Green Buy: ENVIROSOFT.

However, the other three recycled products (NATURALE, DANDY and TREEFREE) were rated among the bottom five. When choosing toilet paper, it seems we still place more emphasis on factors such as strength, absorbency and softness rather than environmental considerations.

Beware of greenwashing

As with all products, watch out for greenwash. CHOICE found the toilet paper industry thrives on green claims (see Green claims on supermarket labels), with the average product packaging containing five claims and some as many as eight. To cut through the greenwash when you’re shopping for toilet paper, look for products that have a high recycled content. Post-consumer is preferable to pre-consumer recycled sources (sometimes called manufacturing offcuts or discarded wood pulp). Also, choose a product that’s unbleached or uses oxygen bleaching rather than chorine bleaching.

Most of our Home Testers said they weren’t concerned whether their toilet paper was made with pre-consumer or post-consumer paper waste, which probably reflects a lack of knowledge of the difference. They’d choose unbleached toilet paper, but weren’t aware of a difference between oxygen and chlorine bleaching. However, about three quarters said they definitely wouldn’t or probably wouldn’t buy products sourced from old-growth forest or rainforests if they were given clear information about the source.

More about bleaching

While a product may state that it’s chlorine-free, it’s important to read the fine print. It could be “Elemental chlorine free” (sometimes written as ECF), which is better for the environment than regular chlorine bleaching but still not ideal because chlorine is still involved.

Where possible, choose a toilet paper that’s unbleached. Otherwise, look for products that are oxygen-bleached or marked “totally chorine free”.

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