how-to-compare-price-of toilet paper

Super Reliable and Easy Way to the Compare Prices of Toilet Paper

Over the years I’ve received thousands of money-saving tips from readers—many of which I’ve shared in books, newsletters and this column. And there are plenty that I’ve not shared for a variety of reasons, but mostly because they don’t work.

Some don’t work so poorly, they actually end up costing time and money, not saving anything. One of those tips still makes me laugh. It goes like this:

Toilet paper

“Start with two empty toilet paper tubes and a new roll of 2-ply toilet tissue. Carefully separate the two layers of toilet tissue, re-rolling each of the layers onto an empty tube to create—ta-da!—two rolls of paper for the price of one.”

Not only does this take an unbelievable amount time, unless you own a toilet tissue rolling machine of some kind, the result is a ginormous, ridiculous mess of toilet tissue that is so thin, it takes at least twice as much to get the job done.

Don’t do that, OK? Instead, learn how to comparison shop for toilet tissue. And when you find it on sale at a great price, which means much lower than its regular price—not simply a SALE sign, stock up.

No standard

Comparing prices on toilet paper is confusing because no two rolls or packages are alike. There are no set standards for toilet paper (and I’m not suggesting there should be). We can’t compare roll-for-roll because roll sizes vary from one manufacturer to another.

Some companies offer double-rolls, jumbo rolls or even 1000-sheet rolls—all of which are pretty meaningless when trying to make a reasonable price comparison. Same with comparing the number of sheets per roll.

There is no set size for a sheet of toilet paper! To make things even more confusing, some rolls are 2-ply (layers), super ultra-plush with 3-ply while others a skimpy 1- or sometimes referred to as single-ply.

Quilted northern toilet paper

 

Unit pricing

Price-per-square-foot for thick (3-ply), regular (2-ply) or thin (1-ply) is the most reliable method for comparing toilet paper prices. Most manufacturers these days reveal both of these measurements on the product label. You may have to search for it, but somewhere you should be able to find this.

Showing SQ FT of toilet paper

Showing SQ FT of toilet paper

Do the math

So you thought all those math classes you took in school were for naught? Finally, they’re about to pay off. The goal is to discover the price per square foot (denoted as “sq ft” or “ft2”) of the products you are comparing. Do this by dividing the price of the product by the total number of square feet.

If the product label reveals the number of square feet contained therein, you’re in luck. Do the math.

If the label shows how many square inches of the product are contained in the package, divide that number by 144 to get to the number of square feet. Now divide that number of square feet into the price.

If the store’s shelf label reveals the price per 100 sq. ft., divide that price by 100 to get the price of one square foot.

Examples

As I write, Costco’s Kirkland brand two-ply toilet tissue in the 30-roll package contains a total of 1,594 sq. feet of product for $15.99, or $0.01 per sq. ft. ($16 ÷ 1,594 = 0.01).

Right next to that brand is the 30-roll package of  2-ply containing 865 sq. ft. of paper, for $21.99, or $0.025 per sq. ft. ($21.99 ÷ 865 = $0.0254).

Given those two choices, it’s a no-brainer which is cheaper: one penny versus two-and-a-half pennies per sq. ft.? Easy! Kirkland brand toilet tissue wins big in this comparison. The store’s labels make it easy to compare because both of these products are two-ply. (Wish getting a good photo were as easy.)

 

how to compare price of toilet paper

 

Once you know to compare the price of toilet paper by the square foot, it will be simple to know with certainty which toilet paper is the best deal on any given day. It doesn’t matter if you’re comparing a 30-roll package of ultra-soft jumbo two-ply product with one that’s 4-rolls of single-ply. The price per square foot will give you the answer you’re looking for.

It’s not all about math

While toilet tissue is one of life’s necessities, author Linda Wright has found a way to elevate it to an art form. Toilet Paper Origami on a Roll, by Linda Wright, is one of my favorite books. It’s a step-by-step guide to folding toilet tissue into flourishes and shapes to create a beautiful bow, elegant swan and so much more.

Book on toilet paper origami

I can’t say that I have mastered this delightful way of folding toilet paper to surprise my friends and family, but I’m working on it!


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10 replies
  1. Sue in MN
    Sue in MN says:

    This formula works equally well for paper towels, aluminum foil and other by-the-roll products like parchment or wrapping paper.

    Reply
  2. Gretchen
    Gretchen says:

    the square footage is the key! Has anyone else noticed that not all toilet paper rolls are the same width? (some will cover the entire area on the holder, and some are significantly narrower/shorter?) I’m sure they are saving big time by making the tubes slightly narrower/shorter, but it has not escaped notice! 🙁 It is all about marketing these days! Best wishes to everyone!

    Reply
  3. Chrissy Goff
    Chrissy Goff says:

    Time doesn’t bother me as it is free but saving money is very important as I only make so much to support all of us. I use coupons and buy it on amazon too. Amazon is free since I use survey money. I follow a blog that tells me when it is 25 cents a roll or less and that is when I stock up. I had a $10 off $10 purchase at Staples and I bought toilet paper. LOL It is easy to save if you follow a blog. I also had a coupon and a gift card I won on one of my survey sites and stocked up on toilet paper.

    Reply
    • Jeneene Brengelman
      Jeneene Brengelman says:

      Me too on the 25 cents, name brand only. Easier math. I know I’m probably not exactly right, but it seems pretty close. If double rolls, 50 cents, etc.

      Reply
  4. Cally
    Cally says:

    standing in the toilet paper aisle has always given me a bit of an anxiety attack!
    which is the best buy? which is going to let me down in the end? (see what i did there?) which is sturdy but soft? and so on….
    thank you for helping me figure out, at least, the “best buy” part!
    so much thought, effort and expense for something you use once and flush away…. 😉

    Reply
  5. Kay Jones
    Kay Jones says:

    I realize this probably makes no sense to anyone else but me, but toilet paper is where I don’t care…..sort of. I compare costs and use coupons like everyone else. Several years ago I had chemotherapy for breast cancer and one of the side effects was diarrhea. I buy my bread from the day old rack, check for meat discounted because it is getting close to the “sale by” date and check out second hand stores for things BUT out of respect for what my poor butt went through, it gets soft fluffy toilet paper. Soft fluffy ON SALE paper, but still soft and fluffy!!!!!

    Reply
    • tboofy
      tboofy says:

      It’s all about priorities. This is obviously one that’s worth the money for you. We all have things that are worth it to us to splurge on.

      Reply
  6. De Jenkins
    De Jenkins says:

    Thank you for this logical formula. I must’ve read it in one of your books in the past because I’ve stood many times in the TP aisle comparing square footage. However, as someone who has suffered with an autoimmune illness that results in spending a LOT of time in the room where we use our toilet paper, and requiring frequent use of said paper, I have to point out that the cost does not adequately measure the value of toilet paper. One can spend as little or as much as budget allows, but choosing a product that is effective and kind to the body are also key factors to consider!

    Reply
  7. sadnana
    sadnana says:

    I’ve found the biggest problem when comparing supermarket prices is that the labels on the shelves are so small that I can’t read anything but the price. And as we read here that isn’t always the best way to determine which product is the best buy. I can do the math, of course. But sometimes it would be so nice not to have to stand in the aisle with a calculator.

    Reply

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