The Best Toilet Paper for Every Budget | BuzzFeed Reviews

The Best Toilet Paper

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Charmin Essentials Soft Toilet Paper

$0.02/square foot

  • Cushy softness on a budget
  • Absorbent, so you need less
  • FSC Certified - Mix
Buying Options

Quilted Northern Ultra Plush Toilet Paper

$0.03/square foot

  • Three-ply for extra absorbency
  • Super soft but low-lint
  • Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) Sourcing
Buying Options

Just Get A Bidet Already


  • Quilted Northern is peak TP
  • Wet wipes are the worst
  • Bidet or bust
Buying Options

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. 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.


Charmin Essentials Soft Toilet Paper

Starting from $0.02/square foot

The Details


Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certified

Rainforest Alliance Certified

What / Who It's Best For

  • People on a budget
  • People who prefer soft toilet paper
  • People somewhat concerned for the environment

Why We Love It

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.

Charmin Essentials Soft Toilet Paper Roll

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.

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.

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.

User Reviews

“This toilet paper is both soft and strong, the two qualities most of us want in toilet paper! I'm not terribly picky about my toilet paper but I do notice when it is rough or falls apart, neither of which was the case with this one. Toilet paper is also one of the few items that I like to buy in bulk so this was a good way to do that!”
— Kemgbr From Amazon
“You would think this cheaper version of Charmin toilet paper would be extremely thin, tear easily, be rough on your rump and not be worth buying. I am happy to report that this isn't the case with Charmin Essentials Soft. Trust me, I KNOW cheap toilet paper and this isn't it. At my work, my employers stock the cheapest toilet paper the taxpayers money can buy. It's thin and feels like sandpaper and tears like tissue paper. THIS toilet paper is pretty good, especially for the price. It is comparable to the nicer store-brand toilet papers of grocery stores like Kroger or HEB. In fact, it might be softer and stronger. But it doesn't leave a lot of toilet paper pieces on your floor that you get from fluffier types of toilet paper. These 48 rolls should last me a very long time!”
— Shesho From Amazon
“Come on now. Everyone likes a clean hindquarter after some ‘meditation.’ This stuff is strong and will hold up to use. I've even used bits of it to clean the bathroom mirror, counter, and sink. It's sturdy and works great. No issues with tearing while cleaning with it in any situation. Fall-apart TP makes for a bad day and no one wants that... So get the stuff that holds together and is still soft against the skin.”
— Bones From Amazon

Quilted Northern Ultra Plush Toilet Paper

Starting from $0.03/square foot

The Details


Sustainable Forestry Institute Certified Sourcing

What / Who It's Best For

  • People who want soft, luxurious toilet paper
  • People want a little TP to go a long way
  • People who hate toilet paper lint

Why We Love It

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.

Quilted Northern Ultra Plush Toilet Paper Roll

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).

Quilted Northern Ultra Plush toilet paper rolls aligned in grid

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.

User Reviews

“I’ve strayed a couple times for a good deal but it’s hard to put a price on a clean backside. This may cost a little more, sometimes quite a bit more, sometimes it’s on sale for the same price as others, but Quilted Northern Ultra Plush keeps more crap on the paper and less on your hand than any other brand I’ve tried. I’ve always worked in industrial type settings where toilet paper is purchased in bulk and is more akin to 1200-grit sandpaper than the TP one would usually have at home. This has strengthened my brown eye to the point that other super-soft branded toilet papers disintegrate before the job is done. Quilted Northern Ultra Plush is soft but still very much up to the challenge and I won’t buy anything else now.”
— Matt V. From Amazon
"Hasn't given me the ol' mud finger, yet. I can use it multiple times a day without it causing me any grief."
— Amazon Customer From Amazon
"We don't use anything but Quilted Northern Ultra Plush. When we are desperate we might try Charmin or another store brand and always regret it. Quilted Northern never has any of the little fuzz lint that haunts you after your wipe." [EDITED FOR LENGTH]
— esmith From Amazon
"Love this bathroom tissue! Soft yet strong, yet DOES NOT SHED like Cottonelle. Perfect! Love that it’s delivered to our door and I don’t have to schlep it from the store. Usually buy two packs at a time." [EDITED FOR CLARITY]
— E. A. King, III From Amazon

Just Get A Bidet Already

Starting from $34.75+

What / Who It's Best For

  • People looking for a little extra luxury
  • People who want to be clean AF
  • People who are irritated by wiping

Why We Love It

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.

Bidet nozzle with cord

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. We will eventually test and review the best bidet attachments on this site, but for now, check out reviews of the top-selling Amazon bidets below, plus reviews on BuzzFeed comparing the Tushy Classic and Luxe Neo and review of just the Tushy Classic.

So if you’re looking for something more luxe than Quilted Northern, do your butt a favor and actually level up.

User Reviews

"Speaking as a hirsute gentleman, the Luxe Bidet Neo 120 has soured me on pooping in bidet-less toilets forever. It's shown me the difference between rubbing peanut butter out of shag carpeting with a paper towel, and that sparkling clean feeling you get right when you step out of the shower. The unit took me all of about 10 minutes to install on my existing toilet with only a wrench. The easy-to-control flow valve allows you to provide just the right amount of water pressure for a full range of cleaning, from "gentle trickling stream" to "full-on 'Silkwood' decontamination", ensuring the end of your bowel movement leaves you feeling cleaner and more refreshed than using just toilet paper alone. Even flush-able wet wipes pale in comparison."
— Mercury From Amazon
"This product is a godsend. After years of swamp bottom, the revelation that something could be done other than smearing waste around with paper has turned my life around. Not only is the seat always warm and inviting, and not only does the seat spray water into the bowl to prevent sticky messes, but the warm jet of water sprayed up my backside seems to have a laser-like focus to hit the exact spot I need. The pulsating massage mode feels great when I use it, but unless I have a lot of time I usually stick with the constant stream which does the trick. Installation went smoothly, though I had to buy a new connector because the old pipe was custom designed and didn't fit the new features. Make sure you tighten that twist nut all the way. That's a lesson I learned during installation. We lost several good towels in that incident. In all, this is a five-star product. It does what it says on the tin. Warm seat. Clean bowl. Sparkling butt. You didn't know you needed it, but now you know. You can't live without this."
— Raboof From Amazon
"FACTS ABOUT YOUR LIFE BEFORE THIS BIDET: 1) The way you've been wiping your whole life is barbaric. 2) Your most sensitive region is always filthy, but you've wallowed in it your whole life, so you think it's fine. 3) You fear change, and even more, ridicule. FACTS ABOUT YOUR LIFE AFTER THIS BIDET: 1) After you become accustomed to that surprising shot of cold water, you become a sophisticated and enlightened member of society. 2) You are clean. Not a 'I wiped and the toilet paper seemed clean so I must be clean' kind of clean; you are the kind of clean that says 'only a pressure washer and a Brillo pad could get me any cleaner.' 3) You accept change as a necessary part of emotional growth, and much to your surprise, the envy of your house guests quickly outshines their initial surprise at your curious toilet accouterments."
— rockstardave From Amazon
“Our family has been fans of the Japanese-style bidets (Toto, Brondell) that have a warm water tank and are semi-automatic. Our new home has no AC outlets in the toilet room, and the tiled walls make adding one a hassle. This unit is an excellent and relatively inexpensive alternative. I don't really notice the cold water and the ‘power’ and ‘aim’ are as good. If you haven't checked out the Aquaus 360 video online, you need to. You'll be sold at the corn... Why are so many Americans weirded out by the bidet concept? I've gotten to the point where I feel a little uncivilized without one.”
— Karl From Home Depot

Just Get A Bidet Already

For a Truly Clean Tush