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December 8, 2008

Toilet Paper Downsizes in a New Way

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 7:10 am

We all know that toilet paper has been downsized for decades.  Charmin has gone from 600 or 650 sheets on the roll all the way down to 200 or so over the years. Other brands followed suit.  Even Scott’s 1000 sheet roll was downsized in a sneaky way in 2006 by making each sheet shorter.

The case of Cottonelle’s downsizing is a bit unusual, however.  Look at these two packages of their toilet paper purchased at the same time last month:


*MOUSE PRINT:  Both packages give the exact same dimensions for the contents — they say there are 304 sheets on each roll, and that sheets are 4.2 inches by 4.0 inches.  Clearly the package on the left is taller by about 3/4 of an inch (with rolls stacked on top of one another core to core).

What is going on here? The company said:

Because of all the precautions taken in our manufacturing plants, it is difficult to explain how the product you received escaped our detection.  Please accept our apology and our assurance that we will do our best to prevent a recurrence.  The proper roll height is 4.2 inches.  During 2007, we reduced the size of our COTTONELLE® bathroom tissue slightly to align our roll height [number of sheets per roll] with other premium tissue products on the market.  At that time, the sheet width was reduced from 4.5″ down to 4.2″.  The length of each sheet (4.0″ between the perforations) did not change.

So it looks like some of the older 4.5″ width rolls were put into a newer wrapper that had the new lowered sheet count and narrower width on the label.  One can only wonder if this was truly a “mistake” or rather an interim step in the downsizing process to hide the change for anyone comparing the older label to the newer one.

This then appears to be the industry’s latest ploy — downsizing toilet paper by making each sheeter narrower. Toilet paper has historically been 4.5 inches wide as demonstrated by Quilted Northern:


If you peruse the supermarket aisle you will notice that very few brands are 4.5 inches wide anymore. (Scott 1000 sheet role still is, for the moment.) Others are 4.3 inches, 4.27 inches, 4.2 inches, or even 4.0 inches.

Angel Soft Charmin Northern

If this trend continues, soon they will be marketing products to us that look more like dental floss than toilet paper.


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  1. I am wondering about Charmin’s Costco product. It was fine until the last time I purchased it, about two weeks ago. Where the roll used to ‘fill’ my dispenser side to side, now there is a lot of metal spool showing on either side. The sheets are smaller all over, and, although I didn’t pay attention to the number of sheets, I wouldn’t be surprised if they are less now also. Seems like a roll that might last a week or so now only lasts half that time. Anybody else see the shortening effect??

    Comment by Remarkable Gi — October 16, 2011 @ 6:26 pm

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