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The Toilet Paper Principle: Stock-Up Price For TP

by Tara Kuczykowski on June 22, 2010 · 120 comments

Let's talk toilet paper for a moment. It's definitely a necessity, and I personally find it to be one of the most difficult items to stockpile. Deals have been somewhat scarce lately, and in addition, it's just darn hard to figure out whether you're really getting bargain on it. With double rolls and ultra packs, etc., how do you know if you're paying a reasonable price or not?

Reader Beth left this tip on my recent Target and CVS Savings post that makes it super easy to tell if a sale price on toilet paper is worthy of stocking up or not. It shall forever be known as the "Toilet Paper Principle" here on Deal Seeking Mom!

Look at the front bottom of the toilet paper package to determine the total square feet. Now insert a decimal point in this number two places to the left. If the cost of the package minus coupons is less than or equal to this figure, it's a decent deal -- basically $0.01 or less per square foot!


TP #1 = 400 sq. ft.; price = $6; stock-up price $4, so not a fabulous deal.
TP #2 = 650 sq. ft.; price = $5; stock-up price $6.50, so definitely a bargain!

Thanks so much, Beth, for sharing this simple concept!

Do you have any similar tips and tricks that you use to determine whether a price on a product is a stockpile deal?

{ 120 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tamara B-H June 22, 2010 at 9:38 am

great trick and so simple-thank you


2 Christine June 22, 2010 at 9:45 am

Wow! Thank you so much for the tip! I actually have a small stockpile of TP from using the Free or $2 off Marcal coupons that were out awile ago. I will def be using this tip from now on! TP is so expensive!!


3 misti June 22, 2010 at 11:17 am

where do they sell marcal? i can't find it anywhere.


4 CANDICE June 22, 2010 at 11:26 am

My albertsons sells it. Is it good though? my family is a little picky and always wants soft and plush tp!


5 Tara Kuczykowski June 22, 2010 at 11:55 am

Giant Eagle and Kroger have it also, but it's definitely on the scratchy side. I got several boxes of the facial tissues, and they're torture on my nose when I have a cold.


6 Tracy June 22, 2010 at 5:24 pm

The toilet paper is no way near as bad as the tissues!! I opened a tissue in the store to test drive it before I bought a bunch and boy am I glad I did!! I will NEVER buy the tissues. I have been using the toilet paper for weeks now and I like it. And yes I did buy that one box of tissues I opened - Thank goodness it was free!!


7 RUTH June 22, 2010 at 12:47 pm

I buy the dinner napkins at the commissary (100 for 49 cents after coupons). They are okay, but the facial tissues (free at the commissary after coupons) leave lots to be desired. I have two boxes that everyone refuses to use, so I use them as mini paper towels. If I have a small spill on the floor, I use the tissues. They are great for really small jobs that you don't want to use a whole paper towel to clean-up.


8 Mary @ 4our2cents June 22, 2010 at 1:45 pm

If you have a Marc's near you they sell the 4 roll packs for only 99 cents. So that makes for FREE TP!!


9 Crissy S. July 3, 2010 at 10:33 pm

What really frustrates me is that there is a limit on the price of a "free" one. I think it is $1. However, one roll of Marcal costs more than $1 around me so I'm not getting it for free :(


10 Nichele July 3, 2010 at 11:10 pm

I wish I could find the single rolls to use to Q's. Frustrating....

11 Mary @ 4our2cents July 5, 2010 at 9:30 pm

Do you live near a Marc's. They sell the 4 roll package of Marcal for 99 cents! FREE! I don't mind the tp- not too soft, not to thin.


12 Melissa June 22, 2010 at 9:46 am

Great tip! Thanks so much for sharing.


13 Madalina June 22, 2010 at 9:48 am

Great tip - thanks so much for sharing :)


14 Sam June 22, 2010 at 9:48 am

I buy Charmin in the red bag. I buy anytime the price is 25 cents or less per roll (before manufacturer coupon). Target does the buy 2 get a $5 gift card - that's stock up time!! I do know that they've decreased the roll size over time...but it is what it is.


15 Samantha July 4, 2010 at 10:11 am

I have always gone by 25 cents or less per regular 2-PLY ( we won't even bother with 1-PLY) roll on TP and 59 cents or less per regular roll for paper towels. Double rolls are indeed double and "big" rolls are 1 1/2 times the size of a regular roll so I calculate accordingly.

I looked at some TP that I had in my stockpile and the system outlined above is about the same as .25 per roll.


16 Domestic Diva June 22, 2010 at 9:55 am

I always hate buying toilet paper. I know we need it and all but I always have the feeling like I'm "flushing money down the toilet". Thanks for the tips on how to save!


17 Rona June 22, 2010 at 10:08 am

This is a great tip but I typically go buy what sale is and the sq. ft.I always but the Scott 1000ft rolls because it lasts so long. We use about 2 rolls a week and if I buy 2-3 (12) pks it will last us until the next sale, which is usualy about 3 months,so if it cost 5.99 and I have 1.00 qpons that really adds up.and also if you are brand picky subscibe to their newsletter to get more ,tips ,tricks and even coupons, I recently received a 2.00 Scott tissue coupons via email


18 Candice June 22, 2010 at 11:27 am

At Kmart Scott tp is on sale and is printing Scott catalinas right now.


19 Denise June 22, 2010 at 1:29 pm

How much is the Scott at Kmart and what is the Catalina? How much do you have to buy to get the Catalina?


20 Mel June 22, 2010 at 10:09 am

Awesome idea. I always struggle with this one. Especially since they are always seem to be changing the quantity in TP, even in the same brand. Thank you!


21 Meg June 22, 2010 at 10:12 am

What if your husband is a stuck up Charmins Soft only user?


22 Tara Kuczykowski June 22, 2010 at 10:17 am

LOL, that's a tough call! I rarely see Charmin coupons with a value of more than $0.25/1. Maybe you could use the Charmin in the bathroom that he uses most and experiment with the brands you use in the other bathrooms?


23 Mary @ 4our2cents June 22, 2010 at 1:47 pm

great idea Tara. I def use the cheaper/free/thin stuff in the kids bathroom. They us too much or it all ends up on the floor! :)


24 Maria June 22, 2010 at 6:24 pm

That is the way I always have to do. DH is soo picky about TP, hence I buy Charmin for his bathroom, the rest go with the sales!!


25 Brigitte June 22, 2010 at 10:23 am

or buy a different brand and just keep the charmin package and put the new tp in the charmin package. see if he notices, lol.


26 RUTH June 22, 2010 at 12:58 pm

If he is like my husband, there is no danger he will go to the store and buy it himself. I nicely tell mine that Scott's is what I buy because they have the best price, and I always have a coupon, and if he prefers something else, he knows the way to the store. We will be celebrating our 40th anniversary this Nov. and I don't ever remember him going to the store to buy TP. We have used Scott's well over half of those 40 years. LOL


27 Samantha July 4, 2010 at 10:14 am

Love it, Ruth! =) I think there is a way for us to be respectful of our husbands and attentive to their needs without spending more on products just because they are picky! Mine personally is great and will once in a blue moon not like a particular product, but it is rare and never a big deal.


28 Chriscia June 22, 2010 at 1:19 pm

My hubby is the same way. I put the Charmin into the extra bathroom (that way he leaves my bathroom alone!). Because of the lack of TP deals I have found safeway is my best bet. When the 24 pack double rolls go on the special sale, buy 2 get special price, I get 1 of the charmin and a 12 pk of bounty. P&G esaver has done $3 off each, so check there to load the coupons just in case. I normally get it for $9.99 - $3 ecoupon = $6.99 for a 24 pk double roll, so that is .29 for a double roll, or .15 a roll. For a picky hubby that is a great price.


29 Ashlee June 22, 2010 at 10:15 am

THANKS!!!! I have had the hardest time with TP. Glad to know I am not the only one. This helps a TON. I know there are some brands out there that are cheaper any day, but we we have about 7 brands that we find acceptable at our house.


30 amber June 22, 2010 at 10:18 am

Thanks! So you basically want to the SQ ft to match the price? Is that what I am seeing :) Maybe after another cup of coffee I can answer this myself


31 Tara Kuczykowski June 22, 2010 at 10:19 am

Yes, you'd want it to either match or, preferably, be less. So simple!


32 amber June 22, 2010 at 11:39 am

Thanks Tara!


33 Julie Zuber June 22, 2010 at 10:21 am

I also stocked up with the $2 marcal coupon. Our local Hy Vee carries it for 2.59 for a double 4 roll pack less the $2 coupon left it .59 for 4 double rolls of TP. The local Fareway has the standard 4 roll packs for 1.19 less the $1 coupon makes it .19 for 4 of the (small/standard) rolls which still isn't too bad.


34 Kathryn Rodriguez June 22, 2010 at 10:24 am

Awesome! We like to use Charmin or Cottonelle, so it may be a little harder to find it at that price, but grateful for the easy tip!


35 Lisa M June 22, 2010 at 10:26 am

I absolutely hate buying TP. I will stand in the aisle with the calculator trying to figure out what the best price per square foot is. Thanks for this tip!

I have also noticed that the softer the TP, the less TP in the package. So, you get less TP in a package of Ultra Soft than you do in a package of regular soft.


36 shannon June 22, 2010 at 10:34 am

that is true but you also use less square foot per wipe with thicker toilet paper than thinner. That makes me wonder about this tip. If you use double the sq footage if you buy scott than if you buy cottonelle because it it so much thinner does it actually work?


37 Kim C June 22, 2010 at 10:37 am

This is a great tip!

Also, just an FYI, I was the office manager for a plumbing company (years ago), and the guys would always complain about Charmin! Apparently because its SO thick, I guess it just takes a little longer to break down, especially for people that use a lot (too much), people with kids, etc. There are just more problems with Charmin than with anything else! Really interesting to know. So I haven't used Charmin since about 2002! lol!


38 sheryl June 22, 2010 at 11:47 am

I, too, have heard about this.


39 Lexa June 24, 2010 at 2:33 pm

We've had the same problem - can't use Charmin with our septic tank. Had the 'plugged up tank' problem growing up on a farm in IL and now married in MD ... crazy Charmin!! Feels nice, but causes problems.


40 Donna June 22, 2010 at 10:42 am

I purchased the cvs brand two months ago and we are still going strong! Charmin is nice but not the best bang for your buck!


41 Suzette June 22, 2010 at 11:06 am

The only flaw in this is that 1000 square feet of Charmin Ultra is going to be a lot more uses than 1000 square feet of that thin public restroom paper.


42 dana June 22, 2010 at 11:09 am

I just try not to pay more than 1.00 per 4 reg rolls or 2 double rolls...


43 Kristen June 22, 2010 at 11:09 am

This is a great tip! I am always multiplying, subtracting, and dividing trying to figure out the price per square foot. This will save me time and my sanity!


44 Stephanie June 22, 2010 at 11:35 am

I think even my non-math brain can remember that!


45 Jan June 22, 2010 at 11:51 am

Thanks for the tip! I try to stock up on toilet paper when you tell me too..LOL


46 sheryl June 22, 2010 at 11:51 am

I am hooked on Angel Soft. Our Walmart has the 12 ct double roll pkgs on sale for $4 and there is 400 sq. ft in the package. Plus, I occasionally come accross a coupon for cents off Angel Soft.


47 Joy June 22, 2010 at 2:22 pm

Angel Soft is all we use, too. We have tried other brands but my family hates everything else. Sometimes Quilted Northern in a pinch, but mainly Angel Soft. Love the $4 price lately. By the way, Target has it for $4 as well. Too bad there's no coupons for it right now.


48 Maria June 22, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Thank you so much. Great tip and soooo simple.


49 susan June 22, 2010 at 12:19 pm

I do not care what kind of TP is in the house (and my family has learned to live with that). I use cheap single rolls as fillers at Walgreens and CVS. I have no problem burning a few EBC's or Regsiter Rewards (so long as I have a little bit to roll the next week) on TP. Can't remember the last time I paid for it with real money. Keep the great tips coming!!You have saved me lots of money, THANK YOU!!


50 Jane June 22, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Could someone explain that formula...I am an English major. I read it and reread it and it doesn't make sense to me.

I am sure it works, just my math mind that doesn't. I looked up some other formulas and posted on those on my blog.


51 Jo Ann June 22, 2010 at 1:37 pm

If the total square feet on the package of toilet paper (put a decimal behind the first number in the footage) is equal to or more than the price you are paying for the pk, then it's a stock up price.

650 square feet total for pk. - and you are paying $6.50 or less for the whole pack then stock it. Hope that helps!


52 Stephanie July 6, 2010 at 7:54 pm

Hi Jane!
I have a Master's in math, and I too think that formula is a bit confusing. It's equivalent and easier just to think about it this way: If you are getting 650 square feet for 5 bucks, you are paying 500 cents for 650 square feet. Since 500/650 is less than 1, you're paying less than a cent per square foot. According to the deal mavens, that's a good rate:P


53 Gwen June 22, 2010 at 1:15 pm

I've also heard from several people that they ended up with plumbing problems from using flushable wipes.

Thanks for the tip, Tara!


54 mel June 22, 2010 at 1:43 pm

We use Scott 1000 because it is safe for septic and RVs as well. That way I don't have to buy 2 different kinds. As for it being thin and running out faster, I buy the 12 double rolls and it lasts forever.


55 Jane June 22, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Thanks Jo Ann

I got the decimal point but what confuses me is this
TP #1 = 400 sq. ft.; price = $6; stock-up price $4, so not a fabulous deal....
TP #2 = 650 sq. ft.; price = $5; stock-up price $6.50, so definitely a bargain!

OK I get where the 6.50 comes from 6 decimal 50 BUT what about the $5 and the $6 are those the sale prices?

Forgive me, I am an idjit when it comes to math.


56 Mary @ 4our2cents June 22, 2010 at 1:50 pm

read the one comment above. Price should match- or be lower- than the sq ft.


57 Tara Kuczykowski June 22, 2010 at 3:48 pm

Jane, those are just my hypothetical prices after coupons.


58 Jane June 22, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Voila! UGH it's not math, it's reading comprehension! : )


59 Brenda June 22, 2010 at 2:15 pm

Thanks for the tip. Now, I do feel better about standing in the aisle & trying to figure out the best buy. I've never seen anyone else do that; they usually grab & zoom past me. Now, I can do the same. lol! My daughter just found out she may need this formula...It seems her 12 mth old tried to eat the tp at the Target when Mommy had to make an emergency run for the potty & stood her down in front of her. LOL! I can laugh b/c I'm the Granny. teehee


60 Lauren June 22, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Not completely 'necessary', you can always go the family cloth route :D We haven't, my husband didn't like the idea...but it is getting tempted, at least for the ladies for number 1! we use cloth diapers and I prefer cloth pads too... avoids throwing stuff out all the time. Toilet paper really bugs me to be constantly flushing money! :D


61 Ashlee June 22, 2010 at 3:47 pm

I have never heard of the family cloth! I think I actually might try this- just for pee though. I already do several loads a week for cloth diapers so I can just wash them at the same time.


62 Lauren June 22, 2010 at 3:57 pm

I always figured that you're doing the wash, a few clothes aren't going to even make a difference in those costs :D


63 Amanda July 4, 2010 at 10:20 pm

I know lots of people that do family cloth! They just have a little trash can with a lid next to the toilet and they put their cloth in there after it's been used. Then it gets washed when cloth diapers do, or whatever.

I've long since wanted to try it, but dh is not on board. I think I will very soon start doing it for myself and the kids anyway. ;)


64 Carrie June 22, 2010 at 3:38 pm



65 liz g June 22, 2010 at 3:41 pm

What's with all these picky men and tp? LOL Their precious little bottoms deserve only the finest, apparently! lol


66 Jeanna June 22, 2010 at 4:10 pm

With travel this summer. Kroger has Angel Soft .99 for four single rolls. Matched with .50 off coupon doubled equals free toliet paper.


67 Stacy Vernon June 22, 2010 at 4:56 pm

FYI: White cloud coupons has been the recent issues of All You! I have purchased it along with the marcel so that I could stock pile. It is hard to stock pile anything with 4 kids in the house + their friends!!! LOL!


68 CJ June 22, 2010 at 5:49 pm

I only have to buy t.p. for myself, not a whole household, so the price of t.p. is one of the few prices I dont really think about, I just buy whatever I can when a see a decent deal.


69 stephanie June 22, 2010 at 6:46 pm

I use cosco brand and it beats the headache that goes along with finding the perfect deal. But now you have my mind thinking...should I be paying more attention! I think I may!


70 TeriJ July 3, 2010 at 5:39 pm

I use the Costco brand too. I just picked some up on 30June2010 it was 17.99 per 36 pack. Each roll is 53.1 sq feet which makes a case 1911.6 sq feet. If I am doing this formula correctly then it is less than .01 a sq foot. We actually like it better than the "fancy" TP and it does not stop up my toilet. Guess I will be sticking with Kirkland on the TP.


71 April June 22, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Thank you so much...I've been looking for an easy way to figure this out!


72 dina June 23, 2010 at 1:15 am



73 Deb P June 23, 2010 at 3:09 am

This is a wonderful tip! I get so confused with double rolls, giant roll, mega rolls, one ply , two ply, etc......SHEESH! This will definetly help. Thanks for sharing!


74 Tonya June 23, 2010 at 7:45 am

Thank you for the tip on toliet paper. It has always been very confusing!

Do you have a tip for buying tall kitchen garbage bags?


75 Shannen June 23, 2010 at 9:03 am

It would be nice to apply the TB philosophy to garbage bags. I might just try it as I am going out today. Somehow I just dont think I will get the same results. lol


76 Tiffany June 23, 2010 at 10:35 am

My workplace is having a TP drive to collect rolls for the local homeless shelter. We have "teams" trying to compete to get the most rolls. I am looking to get the CHEAPEST TP available right now and could use some help finding deals. They are counting actual rolls, so "double rolls" only count as one, ply also does not matter, so single ply single rolls work fine. I just need to the most rolls for the lowest cost. If anyone knows on any deals this week, please let me know. Stores in my area include Walmart, Target, Hy-Vee, Baker's (Kroger), Bag N Save, Aldi, and No-Frills. Any coupon game expert's help would be very much appreciated. Thanks!


77 Chriscia June 24, 2010 at 2:34 pm

I was at Office depot and saw that a lot of the Marcal stuff was on clearance. The big 12 pack was $2.xx, so super cheap if you have the coupon. Dollar store could be a good bet as well.


78 Sabrina July 4, 2010 at 4:33 am

Does Office Depot accept coupons?


79 Michele June 23, 2010 at 5:00 pm

I truly, only like the Ultra Charmin, I buy cheaper ones, and I always wind up regretting it :-)


80 Lexa June 24, 2010 at 2:37 pm

What's a good stock up price for paper towels? Would the same math apply? I try to use rags (cheap white washcloths, stained dish towels cut up, etc.) for wiping up spills, but sometimes paper towels are handy for certain messes like bloody meat. I, too, usually buy whatever is cheaper at Costco - both TP and paper towels - now I'm going to start paying better attention!


81 Deb June 24, 2010 at 8:35 pm

What about a stockup price for chicken breasts? I have such a hard time remembering what a good price is. I need to start keeping a notebook but it's one more thing to carry around.


82 dot July 3, 2010 at 10:16 pm

Goodevening Ladies,
How funny is this, Saturday night on a holiday weekend, and I'm sitting here reading about TP and our fussy husbands!!!!!!

LOL!!!!!! Thanks for the great tips. Sometimes my hubby brings home TP from work, ya get crotch-rotch then spend $$$$$ buying expensive creams to combat the problem. It's like sand paper!!!!! thanks, but NO thanks honey!!!!


83 Cat July 5, 2010 at 8:22 am

LOVE this. i'm always looking at "price per unit" on the store tags, but this makes it SO much easier to figure out... wonder if it works on other stock-up products?


84 Laura S. June 19, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Just out of curiosity... is there a good rule for paper towels? I imagine it would be more like $0.02 or more per square foot, but I'm not sure.


85 Laura S. June 19, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Also, I found a deal on Amazon that matches the TP principle! It's only 1-ply TP... never tried it, so it could be sand paper... but surely it can't be any worse than the stuff my company uses. :)


86 Amy V June 20, 2011 at 9:18 pm

I always buy Dollar General TP which is comparable to Scotts.
4 Big Rolls = 544.57 square foot.
is only $3.00 any day, every day.

That equals $0.0055 per square foot.
It lasts FOREVER. Once in awhile I receive a $5.00 off a $25 purchase which can be used only on Saturday. I normally spend it all on toilet paper.


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