Bliss Thru Shopping: TP or not TP: The toilet paper challenge

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There’s a single, fundamental issue we can all agree on this Inauguration Day: toilet paper.

As in, it’s good. And important. And you don’t realize how desperately you need it until it’s gone. And that not just any toilet paper will do.

There’s awfulness out there and now is not the time to stand, er, sit for it.

Thankfully, this is not a political issue during this long, divisive political season (despite the brief Pottygate situation that ran through the country like a bad burrito last week.) Toilet paper is a human issue.

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And, hey, Bag Lady and Shopping Siren are human! Also some percentage dark chocolate and chai, but mostly human!

So as our gift to humanity, we decided to put seven kinds of toilet paper bought at two Lewiston stores to the test. (We’re imagining that they’re the kind of Lewiston stores you’ll probably be at or near when you suddenly remember you need toilet paper, in an emergency kind of way.)

Using the time-honored scientific method of touching, ripping and dripping food coloring, we tested softness and durability. Everything was graded on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being I’d-rather-use-leaves and 5 being where-has-this-been-all-my-life. Let’s just say the results have us rethinking our toilet paper presumptions. 

Oh, the humanity.

• The Home Store, 1,250 single-ply sheets, Dollar Tree, $1

Softness: 3

Durability dry: 3

Durability wet: 3

You’re at the local dollar store to grab a last-minute birthday card and gift bag for your nephew when you remember, dang it, you ran out of toilet paper that morning. But you have to get to your nephew’s party! There’s no time to stop somewhere else! Wait, Dollar Tree sells toilet paper … 

We had little hope for this dollar-store single roll but were pleasantly surprised by its not-horrible-ness. It was super thin, but not scratchy. Our two drops of yellow food coloring bled through two sheets and started to spot on a third within our five-second test limit, but we expected much worse than that. 

Yay for beating low expectations! And, again, that’s not a political comment. 

• The Home Store, 1,100 two-ply sheets, Dollar Tree, $1

Softness: 2

Durability dry: 4

Durability wet: 4

The raised butterfly-and-flower pattern didn’t do this toilet paper any softness favors. That said, it was oddly durable, both dry and wet, with our food coloring barely leaching onto the second sheet. So if you’re liking the idea of dollar-store TP but want something just slightly more durable than the regular dollar-store TP, you have your winner here.

The rest of us will be over here emailing the nice people at The Home Store to ask them to please knock it off with the flowers and butterflies already.

• Angel Soft, 528 two-ply sheets, Dollar Tree, $1

Softness: 1

Durability dry: 3

Durability wet: 4

Shopping Siren commented that this pattern-heavy TP was like taking a doily into the bathroom and she was so right. Let’s leave the ornate tin punch-type, to, well, tin. It doesn’t belong anywhere near you or your nether regions.

• Scott, 1,000 single-ply sheets, Rite Aid, $1.69

Softness: 3

Durability dry: 3

Durability wet: 4

Softness and a strong performance; white and plain, it won’t win any beauty pageants, but this natural go-to doesn’t have to. Feel free to just grab it and go.

We know. Some weeks these things just write themselves.

• Charmin Ultra Strong, 616 two-ply sheets, Rite Aid, $4.49

Softness: 4

Durability dry: 4 

Durability wet: 5

So this toilet paper rock star talks a good game — and lived up to it. And for the price, it ought to.

This just affirms our trust in cartoon bears

• Cottonelle, 760 1-ply sheets, Rite Aid, $4.99

Softness: 3

Durability dry: 2

Durability wet: 5

Designed to clean better with “clean ripple texture,” according to the package. But, apparently, not so much designed to hold together. This toilet paper did a great job with our wet durability test, but it fell apart in our dry durability test. Like, literally. It ripped and shredded with such ease that we felt super-powered. Not sure how someone engineers a TP that is better wet than dry, but that may not be a bad thing, now that we think about it.

• Simplify, 600 2-ply sheets, Rite-Aid, $1

Softness: 2

Durability dry: 4

Durability wet: 4

Feels single ply even though it’s double ply, and the dots-and-flowers pattern feels rough and potentially pokey in a way you don’t want toilet paper to be. But surprise! It didn’t rip easily and the food coloring bled through just two sheets, which means it’s pretty durable, both dry and wet.

Just. If a flower pokes you in a bad place, don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Bag Lady and Shopping Siren’s true identities are protected by a pair of stylish, sweater-wearing Doberman pinschers (who blame the cat for all teeth marks in the toilet paper, even though there’s no cat) and the Customer Service counter at the Sun Journal. You can reach them at baglady@sunjournal.com and shoppingsiren@sunjournal.com.

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