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Consumer Reports: Which toilet paper is the best?

April 3, 2012 6:11:15 AM PDT
Toilet paper has come a long way since it was first introduced in 1857. There are many choices, including three-ply, plush, recycled and now, in some places, tubeless.

But how do you know which toilet paper is the best? That's where Consumer Reports comes in.

From Charmin, Cottonelle and Quilted Northern to rolls like Kirkland Signature from Costco and Up & Up from Target, Consumer Reports sized up 25 different toilet papers. They checked out green ones, too, including Seventh Generation and Earth Essentials.

"Our testers spend a lot of time thinking about toilet paper," Consumer Reports' Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman said.

Testers use a machine to check for strength that measured how much force was needed to break through multiple sheets of toilet paper.

The same machine also checks how well toilet paper tears along its perforations.

"If a toilet paper doesn't tear easily, you could end up with a small useless piece or you could end up with the whole roll," Lehrman said.

Scott's innovative tube-free roll - designed to eliminate cardboard waste - was one of several that were hard to tear.

Another test - designed to determine how well a toilet paper breaks down - is known as the disintegration test, because nobody wants toilet paper clogging the plumbing.

Some toilet paper disintegrated in seconds. But Charmin's Ultra Strong took the longest - more than a minute to break down.

And who wants a scratchy toilet paper? In a temperature and humidity-controlled room, Consumer Reports sensory panelists size up the softness - one sheet at a time.

It turns out White Cloud three-ply Ultra from Walmart topped the charts. It scored excellent for softness. It's strong, and it breaks down quickly.

Not a Walmart shopper? Quilted Northern Ultra Plush came in second in Consumer Reports' tests. It proved easy to tear and was very soft.

As for the eco-friendly toilet papers - none was great. But if living green is a priority, try Seventh Generation toilet paper. While it's not super-strong, it rated very good for softness and excellent for disintegration.

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