It’s hard not to notice that prices on several grocery store items have skyrocketed in recent years.
From food products to cleaning supplies, you’re likely spending more on your shopping bill than you were before the pandemic.
Toilet paper is no different.
Average prices on the bathroom staple have risen steadily since 2020, but even before the pandemic, bargain hunters looked for ways to spend less on bath tissue.
If you feel like you’re spending too much on toilet paper, one of these ten reasons may be to blame.
Why Is Toilet Paper So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
1. Rising Cost Of Wood Pulp
Toilet paper is made from a byproduct of lumber called wood pulp.
Wood pulp can be found in dozens of everyday products, including our food.
Several different types of wood pulp are used for specific products.
A lot of wood pulp is made from recycled paper products.
Toilet paper, however, is made from “virgin” wood pulp because it needs to be both soft and strong, two things recycled paper is not known for.
Bath tissue is generally made from a combination of woods, including firs, maples, and oaks.
Over the last few years, the price of wood has increased more than 40%.
This is due to the simple but critical economic concept of supply and demand.
During the summer of 2020, many homeowners chose to use their newfound free time to make home improvements.
Then, because mortgage rates dropped suddenly, the construction of new homes picked up.
This led to a lumber shortage, which in turn caused a shortage of—you guessed it—toilet paper.
When there’s more demand for a product than there is supply, costs often rise.
Mills increased the prices of lumber, meaning it cost toilet paper companies more to produce the tissue.
These raised prices are passed on to consumers, more often than not.
Fortunately, it is predicted that lumber prices will begin to fall in 2022.
his will ease consumer costs on many products, not just bath tissue.
2. Recent Lack Of Supply
It’s hard to forget the great toilet paper shortage of 2020.
When the pandemic hit, consumers panicked.
Grocery stores found their shelves emptied of many products, including canned goods, hand sanitizer, and bottled water.
It’s possible, however, that this period in time will be forever known for its complete lack of available toilet paper.
The biggest shortages of bath tissue occurred right at the start of the pandemic, in March and April 2020.
This was mainly because coronavirus was a relative unknown.
Most people hadn’t heard of the virus before.
Often, when encountering something new and potentially scary, people feel a need to prepare.
Because no one knew exactly what to expect from COVID-19, some people prepared to an extreme degree.
When goods started disappearing from shelves, it caused even more people to panic-buy, afraid they’d be left with nothing.
All this led to extreme shortages of all kinds of products.
Just as in the case of lumber, when supplies dwindled as demand shot up, prices jumped.
Toilet paper inventory has bottomed out several times since then, as new variants of the virus have been discovered.
Because it is a high-demand product during the uncertainty of a pandemic, prices remain high two years after the initial shortage.
3. It’s A Constant Necessity
Often, when the price of a product goes through the roof, many consumers will choose not to purchase it anymore.
In many countries, the toilet paper shortage isn’t much of an issue.
Around 70% of the world’s population does not use toilet paper.
In many European and East Asian countries, a bidet is more common.
In other parts of the world, the plumbing systems aren’t built to handle wads of bathroom tissue going down the drain.
However, the majority of the population in the United States relies on toilet paper to keep themselves clean.
Toilet paper is widely considered a necessity in the United States, meaning companies can count on it selling consistently.
Even if prices are raised, people will still need toilet paper.
This is not likely to change anytime soon unless a comparable product is introduced.
Because demand stays high, toilet paper manufacturers can charge more for their goods.
4. Pandemic Price Gouging
When store shelves emptied at the outset of COVID-19, it wasn’t uncommon to see the sold-out items being sold elsewhere for hugely inflated prices.
This is known as price gouging: the practice of charging outrageous sums for high-demand goods.
Price gouging tends to happen more frequently during emergencies, such as natural disasters or pandemics.
There are laws against the practice in 39 states and the District of Columbia.
However, some of these laws only apply to declared emergencies, and some didn’t even exist until after 2020.
Additionally, some states only apply these laws to established businesses, not individuals.
Price gouging was rampant at the beginning of the pandemic.
Video game consoles were nearly impossible to find at retailers at the time.
They were bought up by bots, then resold for nearly 50% more than the market price.
Disinfectant wipes were sold on Amazon for $37.95—though Target listed the same wipes for $4.49.
Midway through 2020, price-gouging lawsuits began popping up throughout the country for exorbitant prices on items like toilet paper.
A northern Iowa man was sued for attempting to sell a twelve-pack of toilet paper for $86.
At a Safeway in San Francisco, one woman reported she spent $8 more on a pack of toilet paper than she had before the pandemic.
5. You Need To Balance Cost And Comfort
If it feels like toilet paper prices have jumped in the last few years, you certainly aren’t imagining it.
However, you may have been paying too much for your tissue already.
If you’ve been purchasing cheaper paper in hopes of saving a few bucks, it may actually be costing you.
While the lower-quality stuff is less expensive at the register, over time you may be spending more.
Because thinner, weaker paper tears more easily, you’re more likely to use more paper.
This means that your toilet paper expenses may be higher in the long run.
On the other hand, if you only purchase the highest-quality tissue on the market, you are also probably spending more than you need to.
Name brands like Charmin and Cottonelle can charge more for their rolls thanks to brand recognition.
While it’s true that premium toilet paper consistently comes out on top during tests of strength and softness, if you’re looking to get the best bang for your buck, you should consider both cost and quality.
When looking for tissue that won’t break the bank, two-ply toilet paper will be easier on your bottom and your wallet than one-ply.
One-ply will have you using double the squares for half the comfort.
Brands that offer a thin two-ply paper cost less than premium paper while still holding up better than ultra-cheap one-ply tissue.
Charmin Essentials (Charmin’s bargain line of bath tissue) and Great Value Ultra Strong are comfortable to use without being overly expensive.
You can find breakdowns of cost vs. comfort for dozens of toilet paper brands online.
Don’t be afraid to shop around to find a brand that makes both your behind and your bank account happy.
6. You’re Using Too Much
Even if you’re purchasing good-value toilet paper, it won’t make a difference if you’re using too much.
This is especially true of households with children.
The average person uses 100 regular rolls of toilet paper per year or one roll per 3.5 days.
This figure multiplied by the number of people in your household can give you an idea of how much paper you’re using.
Granted, if members of your house go to school or work outside the home, you won’t be paying for all those rolls.
However, if you’re looking to save money, it’s a good idea to take a second to think about your tissue usage.
Children are often the biggest culprits when it comes to wasting toilet paper.
If you have kids in the home, talk to them about what an appropriate amount of toilet paper looks like.
This will depend on the thickness of your paper, but generally, five to seven squares, folded efficiently, is plenty for children.
Of course, the amount you use ultimately comes down to individual preference.
However, conserving toilet paper can save money in more than one way.
It can prevent your pipes from clogging, which keeps you from having to pay a plumber to come to fix them.
Another factor that plays into the amount of toilet paper used in a household is how quickly the roll spins on the holder.
If your roll of toilet paper spins quickly when you pull on the tissue, you may inadvertently use too much.
One trick to avoid this issue is to flatten the roll before putting it on the holder.
The flattened roll will spin more slowly, and you may use less toilet paper as a result.
7. You’re Using It Wrong
Even the way you fold your toilet paper when using it can decrease your spending each year.
One of the hottest debates on the internet is the issue of folding vs. crumpling bath tissue.
A quick Google search brings up dozens of articles and Reddit threads, all debating the same thing: Which method is superior?
While it’s hard to debate personal preference regarding a topic so, well, personal, there is evidence that folding saves both tissue and money.
Folding your toilet paper along the perforations will use half the amount of paper as wadding it up.
In turn, as many articles note, it will also save trees.
If you’re looking to save money but the idea of folding your bathroom tissue makes you cringe, you’re not alone.
Some assert that crumpling the paper gives the tissue more surface area, making it more effective.
In fact, there are so many impassioned arguments on both sides that a nuclear physicist set out to settle the debate.
Ultimately, he concluded that folding does save paper, but the wadders aren’t wrong: a crumpled tissue cleans better.
His suggestion, therefore, is this: fold your paper, but crinkle the top sheet for more surface area.
8. You’re Not Doing The Math
Looking at the different toilet paper products available on the shelf can feel like an algebra problem.
What has more paper—twelve double rolls or nine mega rolls?
Where do jumbo rolls fit in?
With all the marketing mumbo-jumbo designed to confuse, it’s understandable if you just grab a pack and run.
Fortunately, others have had the same problem and decided to make things easier on the rest of us.
The front of the toilet paper package will tell you how many square feet of tissue are in the package.
When you start paying attention to this, you will see that the size names are meaningless.
One brand’s double-plus roll isn’t necessarily equivalent to another’s.
This means you can disregard the confounding packaging.
Finding the best deal is actually very simple.
You’ll just need to plug the square footage into your calculator, then divide it by the price of the pack.
This equation will give you price-per-square-foot.
If you find two brands that are of similar quality, you can then calculate which one offers the better price.
For an idea of whether the price you’re paying is actually a good deal, try multiplying the square footage by 0.015.
This is equivalent to a penny and a half per square foot.
The best price for quality toilet paper is between 1.5 and 2 cents per square foot.
If the price of the toilet paper you’re considering falls in this range, you can consider it a good deal.
The average price is $0.05/sq. ft, so you may need to search a little for tissue in the “ideal” price range.
9. You’re Buying At The Wrong Stores
Many grocery stores offer comparable prices for similar products, but if you pay attention, you can find patterns that will yield great deals.
If you have a Costco or Sam’s Club membership, they typically offer better prices than other stores.
Kirkland brand bath tissue is sold at $0.015 per square foot on Costco’s website.
If you don’t have any coupons, this is your best bet for a good deal.
If you don’t have a membership, it may not be worth paying for one just for cheaper toilet paper.
However, you can still shop smart to get the most for your money.
Different stores offer discounts on different brands of toilet paper throughout the month, so it’s important to pay attention.
Walgreens offers 12-packs of Cottonelle for $5.
Kroger often sells Angel Soft four-packs for $1.
Target tends to be the best place to buy Quilted Northern and Scott brands.
Depending on what brand you choose to use, you may need to change your shopping habits a bit.
If you aren’t choosy, you could keep an eye out for the best deals and buy whatever brand you can snag for the lowest price.
10. You’re Not Shopping Sales
Coupons, sales, and other deals abound for toilet paper.
You can find printable coupons on many money-saving blogs and websites.
The discounts from these coupons will often compound on top of any ongoing sales, meaning you’ll save even more.
Coupons are often released at certain times of the month, so check for them often.
You can also use apps such as Ibotta for cash back on certain items.
In addition to coupons, keep your eyes peeled for store promotions.
Target occasionally offers gift card deals on certain brands of toilet paper.
During these promotions, when you buy three packages of toilet paper, you’ll receive a $5 Target gift card.
Pair this promotion with coupons, and you’ll find yourself saving big.
Target also gives a 5% discount to shoppers with their RedCard, though it’s important to stay on top of paying it off each month.
When you find great deals, stock up.
Obviously, you shouldn’t hoard resources (thus bringing us right back where we started), but don’t be afraid to grab a few packages when they’re available at a great price.
As long as you have the space for it in your home, you will be sure to get several months of reasonably priced paper.
Of course, if the world runs out of toilet paper again, it’s always nice to be prepared.