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Toilet Paper Roll Claims Roil

Have you made a trip down the toilet paper aisle recently? MrConsumer did last week at Target. There were 11 different size packages of just one variety of Charmin (Ultra Soft) on display.

Charmin Ultra Soft

The big bold numbers on them made little sense. One said “12 = 27” but another said “12 = 54.” One said “18 = 72” but another nearby package proclaimed that “18 = 82.” One package declared that “8 = 36” but at Stop & Shop “9 = 36.” It must be the new math.

Toilet paper numbers


Of course, when you check the fine print on the label you discover a little more about the basis of comparison. All dozen packages compare the number of rolls in that particular package to how many “regular” rolls it is the equivalent of. Regular rolls? Do regular rolls even exist any more? They’re hard to find, and the package looks like a toy. But here it is — a package of four regular rolls of Charmin (before two additional downsizings brought the number of sheets per roll down to a meager 71). The package is only slightly taller than a dollar bill.

Charmin regular rolls

Why does P&G compare each package to a virtually non-existent product that people are no longer familiar with? It makes no sense, except to make you think you are getting more than you really are.

While that second number in the comparison always relates to “regular” rolls, the first number does not relate to the same size roll. Sometimes it means double rolls, double rolls “plus,” mega rolls, or mega rolls “plus.” Does anyone have the sizes of these memorized so that the comparison is meaningful? These are all made up names with an ever-changing number of sheets on each roll. And during a period of downsizing of Charmin, which we are in the midst of, it is even more confusing. There are two “12 = 54” packages noted above. One has 352 sheets per roll, and the other only 326, yet they are both called “double plus” rolls.

How confusing can you get? These comparisons are meaningless to most shoppers, yet the major makers of paper products like toilet paper and paper towels continue to play this game and emphasize these confusing numbers in ever bigger and bigger print.

Here’s a novel idea: just tell us how many rolls are in the package and how many sheets are on each roll. And put that in big print.

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23 thoughts on “Toilet Paper Roll Claims Roil”

  1. The ONLY useful measurement is # of sq inches in the package (and that is usually in tiny print on the bottom – of course). You will never see that in large type (some you almost need a magnifying glass)

  2. i can never figure it out. The regular rolls are so small now . in the olden days if you got 4 regular rolls for a dollar it was a good deal. The rolls are so narrow also. i have so much room left from side to side on my holder.

  3. ok. i found my ultra strong charmin. It says 30 mega rolls equal 120 regular rolls.

    308 2ply sheets per roll. 30 rolls equal 92.1m to the second power (111 yds. to the second power. 9x9cm times 10.1cm times (3.92 inches by 4 inches) How do i figure this out to tell how many feet i get? Do I take 111 yards and square it and then divide by 3 to get the number of feet in the package and then divide by 30 to get the feet per roll?? Or do i take 3.92 times 4 and multiply by 308 and then multiply by 30 to get the total feet per package?

    Edgar replies: Nancy, assuming that each sheet is 4 inches long, and there are 308 sheets per roll… that is 4 x 308 = 1232 inches of length per roll divided by 12 = 102.66 feet per roll. Multiply 102.66 x 30 rolls in the package and you get 3080 feet in length (rounded) in each package.

  4. I believe that a whole lot of people wouldn’t be able to calculate the square inches per package nor would many people bother with it. The manufacturers count on public apathy to bolster their profits, and if there’s a way to make it sound better, they’ll approve it. Of course, toilet paper is only a tiny fraction of the information needed to make better choices and save hard-earned money, so multiply that by the thousands of products out there, and you have to be a dedicated shopper to win the marketing game!

  5. I do not think you will ever see a regular sized roll for sale at the grocery store as the consumer would laugh at how small it is. They usually sell double rolls, the mega roll which is twice the size of the double, The Double plus adds 22 sheets per roll. The mega plus adds 44 sheets per roll.

    Amazon does list a 24 Regular Roll, Charmin Ultra Strong

    Also the same thing can be said about paper towels as well.

  6. Well Nancy I can’t see how Charmin can continue to cut the size of rolls like they do. Like 4 years ago the 4.27 inch by 4 inch Charmin rolls shrunk down to 3.97 inch by 4 inch rolls and you used to get 176 sheets in a double roll.

  7. In this area the manufacturers have won for me. I will buy the cheapest package per roll of 2-ply rolls as long as the package has 4 rolls or less without regard to brand or size of roll. It’s just too bothersome to calculate how many square feet I’m getting. I’ll mostly be using 2 sheets at a time anyway, regardless of dimensions. I’d be more concerned if they started to *increase* the size of each sheet as that would mean less sheets on the same size roll.

  8. Tried my Dollar Store and found Home Store brand of toilet tissue. It has 275 sheets per roll, 4″X4″ and packed 4 rolls for ONE DOLLAR. It is not the softest nor the strongest just okay.

  9. It seems to me that all of this B.S. numbers game not only create confusion, but are IMO, false, misleading and deceptive. Sue the bas**rds and let them explain to the judge or jury why a “reasonable consumer” would understand what they put.

    Complaining is only venting, but taking affirmative action and making the company justify its actions, that is productive for all consumers.

  10. When comparing things like toilet paper and paper towels, I no longer want “per sheet” or even “per area” comparisons, because they require factoring in the size of the sheets and/or the number of plies. Instead, give me the dry net weight of the paper. That will tell me how much stuff is in there.

  11. Well Gerry… You may get a lot more sheets per roll at the dollar store it is just not going to be the same as the blue and red rolls from Charmin.

    Well David… I do not think we have a set standard that all companies must follow here as to what is the minimum sized roll you can sell at a grocery store. I don’t think the numbers here are that confusing, but do they have sell so many different configurations though??

  12. give me a break. everyone needs a reality check. first off who has stopped buying the downsized product ?? you can switch but al, you will get is another downsized product.

    you can get upset and complain but no one cares or will listen to you as is obvious by the companies continuing to pull the downsizing and misleading labels.

    the govt can’t do anything..,this is free enterprize.

    since the companies continue to do this unabated the number of people who get upset and don’t buy the product is infinitesimally small and has no effect on the company.

    i enjoy this site…very informative however all this sadly is moot point.

    unless enough people stop buying the products nothing will change and while the readers of this site are well informed consumers millions and millions more are clueless and THATS GOOD FOR THE COMPANIES.


  13. I’m so tired of companies trying to confuse us & rip us off. I don’t have time to figure out their childish little games, it’s soooo aggravating!! I fell like all they’re doing is screwing their customers so the rich ceo’s get richer. I just want to buy safe products & simple healthy food, by the unit price. And I do not want to convert, for example, salsa, when they list the unit price by the gallon, quart or ounce, randomly. And toilet paper companies are just making it worse! I love the idea of listing it by weight, or at least something universal. And why don’t they stick to universal sizes, like half-gallon tubs for ice cream for every brand! None of the size reductions so it doesn’t look like they are raising the price! I guess it’s like the weather, everyone complains about it, but no one does anything about it. It sure makes grocery shopping torture, an exhausting, expensive ordeal that I despise & put off as long as I possibly can! As for charmin, I don’t even bother, they make it very easy because their ads are so stupid & offensive! Thanks for keeping us so informed Mr. Consumer, especially the mouse print feature, what would we do without you!!!

  14. The word “regular” should be classified with the word “natural”. Meaningless. Even the phrase “GMO free” or “no GMO ingredients” cannot be trusted, even when accompanied by a seal of approval (non GMO Project, SGS Labs, etc.).

    These are all just marketing words used to confuse and deceive. As was mentioned, after you settle on the quality level you like in toilet tissue, the only way to price a product is by the square inch. Same with paper towels. Watch out for those rolls with the perfs at the half sheet. The unit pricing on them is very deceptive.

  15. Simple solution: shop somewhere (e.g. Costco) that displays unit costs. I honestly don’t remember off the top of my head what unit they use (cost per sheet? Cost per linear yard? Cost per square yard?) but it’s dead simply when you can pick out the lowest number.

    If you have a preference for “fancier” toilet paper, simply find which ones you would buy then look at that lowest number within that group.

    Toilet paper is a perfect product to buy in bulk so buying it at warehouse stores is a natural fit.

  16. I don’t know about Costco, but my local supermarket sometimes has different units for different brands/sizes of the same product (not for toilet paper, I think that’s always per 100 sheets), like cup vs pint vs quart for things sold by volume, or “each” vs per lb for produce.

  17. Well rich w if we all stop buying the Toilet paper what do we wipe our butt with then??

    Edgar replies: I use a bidet… no toilet paper needed.

  18. It seems that manufacturers have won by just continuing to confuse consumers. Oddly enough, in today’s market, it seems that consumers are angry if a product label is straightforward. Shopping has become too much of a game.

    I found a decent brand of toilet paper in Angel Soft, and I stick with it.

    I just hope that the regular rolls of the present do not become the mega rolls of the future.

  19. Well Wayne the regular rolls of Today will become the Super Ultra Mega Plus Extreme rolls of the future.

  20. richard, i am not saying you have to stop buying tp. the point i am making is even if 10,00!people switch brands that number is so small in the number of rolls bought the company will still continue to shrink the product.

    you can get upset at being ripped off but unless you find a way to get so many people upset that it has an effect on companies bottom line than nothing will change.

    if they sell a million rolls a day and 10000 people stop buying them do you think that would have any effect on the company ?

    complaining won’t do a thing. they do not care. you have to find a way to hit them in the wallet.

    like edgar you can get a bidet but while it will reduce tp cost it will increase your water bill.

    if you or i had a way to get companies to be honest we could change the world. ok i can dream can t i ??

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