Walmart's White Cloud toilet paper is tops

White Cloud Ultra toilet paper (Photo: walmart.com)

You're standing before a wall of white in the toilet paper aisle of your local retailer, thinking: How much difference can there really be between brands X,Y and Z? So you go with the cheapest, or the one you know best, only to be reminded later that, actually there's a big difference between good and bad TP. That's plain to see in Consumer Reports' toilet paper Ratings, where fifty points separate our first and last-place products. So before restocking your supply, be sure to check the results.

MORE AT CONSUMER REPORTS

We test toilet paper on four key criteria, using a combination of machinery and sensory panelists. Strength is measured by an apparatus called an Instron, which pushes a steel ball through stacked sheets of paper. The same machine also evaluates tearing ease. All-important softness is determined by panelists, who gently caress each toilet paper. Disintegration, indicating how well paper will move through your home's plumbing, involves a water-filled beaker, a 20-inch stirring rod, and a vibrating plate.

The tough tests turn up quite a few stinkers. Take our bottom-rated CVS Earth Essentials, which received subpar scores for both strength and softness. Whole Foods' 365 Everyday Value and Walgreens' Big Roll performed only slightly better. These toilet papers are almost sure to disappoint.

Great Value Ultra Strong toilet paper from Wal-Mart(Photo: walmart.com)

Out of the two dozen-plus products we tested, five performed well enough to make our winner's circle. Three are Walmart exclusives, including a pair of White Cloud products and Great Value Ultra Strong. Softness is superb with all three toilet papers, though only the top-rated White Cloud 3-Ply Ultra Soft and Thick combines softness with superior strength and disintegration. As a result, it was tops in our tests by a wide margin.

If you're not a Walmart shopper, consider our picks from Quilted Northern or CVS.

(See also: Is Starbucks really the best coffee?)

Looking for a green toilet paper? The most eco-friendly options are made from fibers recovered from paper that would otherwise end up in a landfill or incinerator, as opposed to trees from responsibly managed forests. Seventh Generation meets that claim, and it was quite soft in our tests, though not as strong as models that make our recommended list.

Copyright © 2006-2013 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.

* Yahoo! Shopping was not compensated by the brands featured within this article.

Follow Yahoo Shopping

Latest from Yahoo Shopping