Consumer Reports sized up 25 different toilet papers, from Charmin, Cottonelle and Quilted Northern to rolls like Kirkland Signature from Costco and Up & Up from Target. They checked out green ones, too, including Seventh Generation and Earth Essentials.
"Our testers spent a lot of time thinking about toilet paper," said Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman of Consumer Reports.
Testers used a machine to check for strength. It measured how much force is needed to break through multiple sheets of toilet paper. The same machine also checked 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," Kuperszmid Lehrman said.
Scott's innovative tube-free roll, which was 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, was known as the disintegration test because nobody wants toilet paper clogging the plumbing. One toilet paper disintegrated in seconds, but Charmin's Ultra Strong took the longest at 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 sized up the softness one sheet at a time. As it turned out, White Cloud three-ply ultra from Wal-Mart topped the charts. It scored excellent for softness. It's strong and it breaks down quickly, too.
If you're not a Wal-Mart 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.