When the grocery shelves were picked clean of toilet paper early on in the pandemic, toilet paper became a hot commodity. While most grocery stores have limited the number of packs each person can buy, most people have become accustomed to stocking up on TP, just in case. Of course all those rolls add up. We’ve rounded up tips on how to save money on toilet paper.
According to a study by TUSHY (makers of bidets), the average American spends roughly $182 a year on toilet paper. Now with the pandemic, they’ve added an extra $15 a month. The study estimates the average adult uses around 159 rolls of toilet paper during the course of a year. Over a lifetime, Americans spend a reported $11,198 on toilet paper—money literally down the drain.
Now if you’re like me, you probably have a thousand ways you would prefer to spend your hard-earned money on instead of toilet paper.
Not only is toilet paper hard on your wallet, it’s also devastating on the environment.
According to The Guardian, Americans’ preference for luxury toilet paper (stemming from virgin pulp, the main ingredient in toilet paper), is contributing to deforestation of Canada’s boreal forest. Since 1996, more than 28 million acres of Canadian boreal forest (roughly the size of Pennsylvania) have been cut for toilet paper usage.
How to save money on toilet paper: a roundup of 12 tips
Ready to save more of your hard-earned cash? Read on for how to reduce your toilet paper costs.
1) Calculate how much you’re actually getting
Rather than just picking up the cheapest pack of toilet paper, do some math first.
Don’t be ashamed of pulling out your phone calculator in the toilet paper aisle. Look for key numbers like sheets per roll vs. total cost. Now multiply the number of sheets per roll by the number of rolls in the pack. Compare how many sheets you get with different brands.
You may be surprised that some packages offer significantly fewer sheets per roll of toilet paper than others.
2) Ditch the brands
Yeah, the soft white kittens or the cuddly bear on the package are cute. But brand names are often more expensive (unless there’s a mad sale!) than generic brands. Cheap toilet paper isn’t necessarily bad toilet paper.
And please, forget about the 3-ply tissues, or the lovely scented ones. Those are bells and whistles that add to the costs.
And frankly, the difference between 2-ply and 3-ply toilet paper isn’t enough to justify the added costs (especially if you’re on a budget).
3) Use less each time (and teach your kids to do the same)
How much toilet paper does one need? Hmm…obviously there’s no right or wrong answer, but if the bulk of the toilet paper you ripped off is barely used, it’s time to scale it back.
If you have little ones at home, now’s a good time to introduce the concept of not being wasteful. We often mindlessly grab a handful without much thought. By making a conscious effort to use a little less each time, your rolls will last longer.
4) The art of wiping: folding vs. scrunching
Now I know people aren’t going to appreciate someone else telling them how to wipe, but I’m going to do it anyway. (Don’t hate me, please).
If you’re in the habit of scrunching up your toilet paper each time you wipe, you’re not maximizing each square.
By folding rather than scrunching, you’ll have more surface area to wipe. And you’ll likely end up using less toilet paper.
5) Put a crimp in it
Does your toilet paper come off a bit too easily? We have a tendency to use more if it just rolls off.
Here’s an easy hack. To make the toilet paper roll less available each time it’s pulled, put a crimp in the tube. This way, it doesn’t spin as quickly, and we end up using less.
6) Ration toilet paper per person
If you’re really serious about saving money on toilet paper, you could go military-style and ration toilet paper by allotting a set number of rolls per person each month.
Magically, that person in your household who loves grabbing handfuls of TP for no good reason is suddenly making a roll of toilet paper last and last.
Just don’t blame us if the people in your household hate you.
7) Look for toilet paper coupons
Of course we had to mention coupons in a post about saving money. You can do this old-school (paper flyers), or look online.
- Check your local weekly flyers: Sometimes the best deals are at your local grocery store. Check all your local paper flyers regularly.
- Check online: Canadians can check out RedFlagDeals and SmartCanucks. Other online sites to check out include Coupons, SmartSource, and RedPlum.
8) Buy bulk
If waiting for sales, or clipping coupons isn’t your style, you can’t go wrong with buying toilet paper in bulk at Costco at their everyday regular price. The Kirkland toilet paper is a behemoth with 30 rolls that lasts a looooong time.
If you don’t have a Costco membership, consider asking a friend with a membership to buy an extra pack for you.
Toilet paper alternatives
9) The art of tabò
When hanging out with Filipino friends at their home, every bathroom I’ve seen has a tabò. If you’re not familiar with tabò, it’s the art of cleansing with water after you do your business. Tabò involves using a small plastic dipper (with a long handle) to fill with clean water and wash yourself, in particular, after doing messy business.
Tabò is also used in other Asian countries including Brunei, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
Just keep the tabò by the toilet, and use it as needed. You’ll drastically cut down on the toilet paper usage and feel oh-so-clean.
10) Reusable cloths
While I’m all about using less, and saving money, I’m not sure I’m comfortable sharing reusable butt wipes with other members of the family. That being said, if you’re really intent on cutting down on toilet paper usage, you could assign a different color cloth to each family member. Check out the dollar store for bundles of face cloths, towels, and such.
11) Hand-sprayer to the rescue
Similar to tabò, a hand-sprayer has more spray power (which can be a good or bad thing). We’ve actually had a hand-sprayer attached to the toilet since our kids’ cloth diapering days. It’s come in handy for many different purposes over the years. The good news is that hand-sprayers cost just a fraction of the cost of a bidet.
Yes, bidets require an upfront investment, but you’ll likely use less toilet paper. There are many styles of bidets available from traditional stand-alone units, to more reasonably-priced attachable models. While bidets are becoming more popular in North America since the pandemic started, they’re much more commonly used throughout parts of Europe and Asia.
The best toilet paper for your plumbing
One of the most inconvenient (not to mention gross) plumbing issues is a backed up toilet. Too much toilet paper down the hatch and you’ve got yourself a big problem.
Over at Family Handyman, they conducted a test between nine different types of 1-ply, 2-ply, and 3-ply brands of toilet paper. They took two squares of toilet paper, and let it sit in water for 15 minutes. To simulate a “flush” they stirred the water and attempted to scoop up any remnants of toilet paper. They then compared how much the paper shards disintegrated.
Not surprisingly, thicker, more plush types of 3-ply and 2-ply toilet paper performed the worst. The two types of toilet paper that didn’t break down are Quilted Northern Ultra Plush (3-ply) and Cottonelle Ultra Comfort Care (2-ply).
On the flip side, the two brands which disintegrated the best were Angel Soft (2-ply) and Scott 1,000 (1-ply).
The takeaway: While some may argue that you end up using more 1-ply tissues than you would 2-ply or 3-ply, they found even larger amounts of 1-ply tissues were still able to break down better than fewer squares of 3-ply. So, if you’re worried about your plumbing, stick to 1-ply toilet paper.
If you want to go green(er)…
If the thought of cutting down trees for toilet paper hurts your heart, consider going green(er) with recycled toilet paper.
👉If you like this post, see other Frugal Ideas To Save Money.
- Study Finds, Average American spends over $11K on toilet paper over a lifetime — enough to buy a Rolex!, https://www.studyfinds.org/average-american-toilet-paper/. Accessed December 2020.
- Wolfson, Sam (01 March 2019). “Wiped out: America’s love of luxury toilet paper is destroying Canadian forests,” The Guardian. Accessed December 2020.
- Ingolfsland, Jason (20 March 2020). “The Best Toilet Paper for Your Plumbing,” Family Handyman. Accessed December 2020.