Consumer Reports: Walmart toilet paper cleans up in testing
Source: OnlineAthens | May 5, 2012
Never mind squeezing the Charmin.
Consumer Reports' testers recently put 25 toilet papers through a battery of punishing tests that would have made Mr. Whipple, the mustached supermarket manager from the old TV commercials, wince.
Toilet papers were tested for strength, softness, tearing ease and disintegration. And when CR finished, Walmart's White Cloud Ultra Soft and Thick was the clear winner, with an overall score of 91 — 10 to 50 points better than the competition. It was soft, strong and an exceptional value. The CR Best Buy cost 25 cents per 100 sheets.
Not a Walmart shopper? Quilted Northern Ultra Plush, 38 cents per 100 sheets, is widely available and delivers excellent softness. Its tearing ease is also just right, so you won't get stuck with too little paper or too much. But the paper wasn't quite as strong as the top-rated White Cloud despite its three plies, and it costs more.
CR also tested green toilet paper, including Trader Joe's Super Soft Bath Tissue, 19 cents per 100 sheets. It was very soft but faltered when it came to strength and tearing ease. Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value, 18 cents per 100 sheets, and CVS' Earth Essentials, 8 cents per 100 sheets, landed at the bottom of the ratings due to roughness and middling strength and tearing ease — yet both offer excellent disintegration.
Rolls that do away with the cardboard tube are the latest thing in toilet-paper marketing. Scott Naturals Tube Free claims it has the potential to "eliminate millions of pounds of materials from the waste stream." However, CR found that it was not as easy to unravel, the paper did not tear off easily, and it was harder to place the roll in the holder.
HOW TO CHOOSE:
CR suggests consumers keep the following in mind when shopping for toilet paper:
- Stock up and save. Keep an eye out for sales and use coupons to lower costs. Larger packages often reduce costs per roll. Consider multi-ply rolls, as you are likely to use fewer sheets as compared to single-ply.
- Understand green claims. Look for toilet paper that has been made not just from recycled content or trees from responsibly managed forests but from paper that would otherwise end up in a landfill or an incinerator. Avoid recycled products that have been bleached white using chlorine because that can pollute air and water.
- Be kind to plumbing. Toilet paper that does not disintegrate quickly can pose a problem for homes with septic systems, old pipes or large families. Check out CR's ratings of toilet papers to see which products scored well for disintegration.
PRODUCT DOWNSIZING INVADES THE BATHROOM
As commodity costs have risen, downsizing has become a common way for manufacturers to avoid a direct price increase, as it is often hard to tell that a package has gone on a diet. CR's readers have identified toilet paper that has fallen victim to product downsizing:
- Proctor and Gamble has downsized the size of its roll in its Charmin Ultra Soft 30 Jumbo pack by 8 percent — about 19 sheets less per roll.
- Proctor and Gamble's Charmin 45 Ultra Soft Giant roll has downsized from 250 sheets to 220 sheets per roll.
- Kimberly-Clark's Scott, a brand known for its 1,000 sheet rolls, shrank by 9 percent. But instead of reducing the number of sheets, they were made smaller and stronger, so consumers can use less.
HOW TO SAVE ON EVERYDAY PERSONAL-CARE ITEMS
It's easy to overspend on personal-care products. Costly necessities add up quickly, and before you know it, you're walking out of the drugstore with a tiny bag and a giant bill.
ShopSmart, the shopping magazine from the publisher of Consumer Reports, recently came up with a how-to guide for saving on everyday personal-care items. The magazine also highlighted the most rewarding store-loyalty programs.
"Knowing what stores have the best values on personal-care products can help you save big," said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart.
MONEY-SAVING LESSONS LEARNED:
- Walmart can save you big bucks. It had the lowest prices on the most items on ShopSmart's shopping list — similar to what its shoppers have found in previous price scans. Target was often a close second but rarely had the absolute lowest prices.
- Drugstores can cost you. CVS and Walgreens had the highest prices on the most products. They might be convenient, and their loyalty cards can net you some good discounts, but you could pay as much as 112 percent more than you would at Walmart.
- Websites are the place to go for higher-end brands. If you're looking for Aveeno instead of Vaseline, or a natural brand like Burt's Bees, you might find the best deals online. But you'll pay extra for shipping if you don't spend at least $25 at Amazon.com and Drugstore.com, or at least $50 at HarmonDiscount.com.
- Supermarkets aren't so bad. ShopSmart was surprised to see that their prices were pretty competitive. So if you're in a pinch, don't worry that you're paying a premium for the convenience of grabbing a bottle of shampoo along with your groceries.
MORE WAYS TO SAVE:
- Stock up when stuff is on sale. Instead of waiting until you run out of something or start to run low, load up on products when they're marked down. Ad circulars and websites like SundaySaver.com can help you plan ahead.
- Max out coupons. Read the retailer coupon policies. Most supermarkets allow stacking — using store and manufacturer coupons together. Some stores, such as Stop and Shop and Piggly Wiggly, double coupons. If you hit a sale, you have a coupon and the store will double it, you may end up paying a lower price at a supermarket than somewhere else.
- Try store brands. Many store-brand products are just like their name-brand versions, and you might even like them better. Walmart's Equate brand, for example, got high marks in ShopSmart's most recent body-lotion test.