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    Updated on Apr 10, 2020. Posted on Apr 10, 2020

    The Best Toilet Paper, No Buts About It

    You're going to want to take a seat for this one.

    We hope you love the products we recommend! All of them were independently selected by our editors. Just so you know, BuzzFeed may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page if you decide to shop from them. Oh, and FYI — prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.

    In the course of writing this review, we learned that there are two types of toilet paper consumers: people who don’t really care or notice what they’re using, and people who have A LOT of opinions.

    Columbia Pictures / Via giphy.com

    In the interest of serving even the most opinionated wipers out there, we evaluated numerous rolls across three price points for softness, absorbency, and sustainability. So no matter your TP preferences, we’ve got you (and your behind) covered.

    Editor's Note: We're currently updating these picks! Check back soon for more.

    Charmin Essentials Soft Toilet Paper

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    Most of the toilet papers in this price category felt like the rough TP you’d find in an airport or an office bathroom, not the pillowy stuff you’d want at home. But our low-budget pick, the two-ply Charmin Essentials Soft, feels just as luxe as pricier papers without sacrificing absorbency. You won’t need a wad of sheets to get the job done right, your rolls will last longer, and you get to enjoy fluffy toilet paper while saving your hard-earned cash.

    Unfortunately, if you have a septic system, both our test of Charmin Essentials Soft and a Consumer Reports test of Charmin Basic, an earlier incarnation of Essentials, found it doesn’t dissolve nearly well enough for us to recommend it — despite the “septic safe” stamp on the front of the package. For the softest TP that actually passed our septic test, try Scott Extra Soft (which isn’t our official pick because it’s not even close to as soft as Charmin Essentials and was the least absorbent at this price point). Seventh Generation 100% Recycled and Angel Soft also passed with flying colors, and though they’re somewhat less soft than the Scott, they performed better on the absorbency tests. Do you have a family member who consistently uses way too much TP, like an eager kiddo or a nervous teen? Opt for one of these that dissolves faster, and you’re less likely to have a clog on your hands.

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    Almost all toilet paper comes from trees, which, as any elementary school social studies class can tell you, are technically a renewable resource. But every few years there’s buzz about TP made by chopping down an endangered species’ habitat or encroaching on old-growth forest. That’s why we like that Charmin Essentials Soft is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certified “mix”, which means the virgin wood pulp it’s made from is probably sourced from responsibly managed forests or controlled wood. (This is better than no certification, but not as stringent as FSC 100%. The alternative to “virgin” is pulp made from recycled paper).

    FSC forests meet 10 human rights, environmental impact, and management requirements, so their stamp right on the package means you probably aren’t wiping your butt with 300-year-old trees. (Procter & Gamble’s website clarifies that while it prefers FSC wood, it depends on what’s available on the market). You also can recycle the paper tubes curbside and the plastic packaging wherever retailers take plastic bags. While these small things don’t magically make it as low-impact as recycled, and most brands have the same or a similar certification and recyclability, at least it’s a start.

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    If you prefer a truly sustainable toilet paper, Seventh Generation 100% Recycled is the softest of all of the eco-friendly TPs we tested at all price points — although, compared to Charmin, it feels somewhat thin and rough. Seventh Generation is also FSC Certified and is Processed Chlorine Free (PCF), meaning the paper it’s recycled from may have been chlorine-bleached, but they didn’t use any more bleach or use alternative bleaching when they made the TP. Charmin Essentials Soft, like most of the papers we tested, is only Elemental Chlorine Free, or ECF. So it’s bleached using chlorine dioxide, which releases cancer-causing chemicals into the environment during manufacturing. You might have to use more of the Seventh Generation to get clean, but recycled toilet paper takes 64% less energy and 50% less water to produce, and makes 74% less air pollution, according to Your Best Digs. Consider whether you personally think that offsets the extra sheets.

    If you have a typical sewer system and want a cheap TP that’s incredibly pleasant to use day after day and plenty absorbent so the roll lasts as long as possible, we think Charmin Essentials Ultra Soft is definitely your best bet.

    Get it from Amazon for $15 (16 Giant Rolls)

    FYI if you’re an obsessive Amazon review reader (like we are): Charmin replaced a single “Basic” toilet paper sometime in the past two years with this Essentials Soft and an Essentials Strong, so many reviewers give the new version a low rating because they’re upset that this replaced their go-to TP. Try sorting by “most recent” to see actual reviews of Essentials Soft.

    Quilted Northern Ultra Plush Toilet Paper

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    When it comes to choosing a good TP, softness and absorbency are the name of the game. Quilted Northern Ultra Soft 3-Ply is better at fulfilling both of those requirements than any other roll we tested; that’s what makes it our mid-budget favorite. And even better, many reviewers report that it has barely any of that annoying lintiness that can often be seen with softer varieties. (Of course, your mileage may vary).

    Perhaps not surprisingly, the third ply really does make toilet paper more absorbent. All of the three-plies we tested in this category held more water than any of the two-plies, which for our pick means two things: it won’t let you down when it counts, and you can use less to get the job done. Add the fact that it’s fluffy-soft AF, and we have a real winner.

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    Quilted Northern uses a different agency to track its sourcing than our $ pick. It is Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) Sourcing Certified, which makes sure the logging practices for the fiber that eventually becomes TP protects “water quality, biodiversity, wildlife habitat, species at risk and forests with exceptional conservation value.” If they buy fiber that doesn’t come from a certified forest, it also has to at least be proven to come from a “legal and responsible” source. Weirdly, they don’t put the logo on the package itself (or, it’s not on the packs we bought). But it’s on their website and in the photos for the Amazon listing, and of course we searched their number to confirm. Beyond that, you can recycle the tubes with regular paper recycling and the plastic packaging wherever retailers take plastic bags.

    Bad news for septic system owners: while its package does say it’s septic safe, it failed to dissolve at all in our test, and Consumer Reports rated its disintegration as “poor”. You can try it with your septic system if you’d like, but we wouldn’t recommend it. Only sandpaper-y options in the $$ category passed the septic test; for a compromise between comfortable and septic-safe, we recommend the less expensive Scott Extra Soft, Angel Soft, or Seventh Generation 100% Recycled. If you have kids or teens causing clogs by reeling too much off the roll, stick with one of these three to lower the chance you have to run for a plunger.

    Our tests in this category also included two “tree-free” or bamboo toilet papers, which is probably more sustainable than paper made from trees. Once mature, bamboo grows so quickly it can be harvested over and over again, once every year, because it’s closer to a grass than a tree. Some varieties of trees take years to grow, although it’s hard to know exactly what trees go into making a particular roll of TP (certain types of eucalyptus trees also grow quickly). Unfortunately, one brand we tried was voted least soft, and the other brand consistently tested least absorbent (and a third brand was so much more expensive per square foot that we decided not to even include it).

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    So we still recommend Seventh Generation 100% Recycled for an eco-friendly toilet paper that’s absorbent and soft, although not even close to as puffy as Quilted Northern Ultra Plush (Ultra Plush, like most of the papers we tested, is only Elemental Chlorine Free). And while you may have heard about trace amounts of BPA in recycled toilet paper, it’s at an incredibly low concentration relative to canned food, plastic food containers, and especially that thermal paper you touch every time a cashier hands you a receipt (which happens to be the main culprit for the BPA in the TP: people recycling receipts).

    But if you, like most people, really prefer to wipe your bum with something super soft and incredibly absorbent, give Quilted Northern Ultra Plush a try. And if you’re not quite convinced, check out these promising reviews.

    Get it from Amazon for $28 (24 Supreme Rolls)

    Just Get A Bidet Already

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    Look, we really tried to find a luxury TP that wowed our testers. We did. But there just aren’t that many out there. Renova — the affordable-ish, scented (did all the gynos around the world just shudder?), red toilet paper that Beyoncé supposedly requested on her 2013 tour — wasn’t even as soft as our $$ pick, and it seemed like a novelty at best. The ultra-expensive Joseph’s Toiletries kit featured on Goop did feel incredibly soft and luxe, and it came with a spray that helped our testers feel cleaner than they would with regular toilet paper.

    But as one tester who’s a regular bidet user put it, you blast dirt off a patio, not rub it in with damp paper towels. And even though the company swears the sheets are “fully flushable and dissolvable,” the large rectangles are so thick our testers still worried about clogging their pipes. TBH, after seeing how poorly many of the $$ TPs dissolved in water, we suspect these would take significantly longer to dissolve than even the plushest regular toilet paper, if they actually dissolve at all.

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    We think there’s a reason a robust ultra-luxury toilet paper market doesn’t exist: the Quilted Northerns and Charmins of the world are peak TP. To really get an upgrade, you must transcend toilet paper — and the sewer-wrecking trend of “flushable” wipes — into the sparkling-clean world of bidets and bidet attachments (though you can still keep the toilet paper of your choice around to gently pat dry with a square or two, and for guests). They’re debatably more eco-friendly than using toilet paper, and while they aren’t necessarily healthier than regular wiping, they might help if you have persistent itchiness. They also might relieve pressure on conditions like hemorrhoids (just talk to your doctor before you make the jump for medical reasons).

    The regular bidet users who tested other toilet papers for us swear that once you get used to the truly clean feeling, there’s no going back. So if you’re looking for something more luxe than Quilted Northern, do your butt a favor and actually level up.

    Get it from $35 at Amazon