3 Tips to Ensure the Best Value for Toilet Paper, Paper Towels and Garbage Can Liners

Are you noticing the quality of toilet paper isn’t what it used to be?

Does it seem the packaging for paper towels has increased in size but the rolls run out faster? Are those garbage can liners looking different?

In this article we will discuss the unspoken truth about “cheater packaging” for toilet paper, paper towels and garbage can liners along with 3 tips to ensure you’re getting the best bang for your buck! 

Staying on-top of the cheater products is important to ensure a consistent quality of consumables, as well as ensuring your budget dollars are getting the best product possible.

© Dana Rothstein | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Have you noticed that contents of food packages have decreased in the past couple of years? Cereal boxes, for instance, contain less cereal and boxes of granola bars contain fewer bars. Portions have been reduced, but not the prices. How about the size and quantity of your kitchen paper towels? There are fewer paper towel rolls, and yet the price does not reflect this. Paper is made from cotton and as the global shortage rises and falls, prices are reflected in toilet paper and paper towels. Interestingly enough, the packaging of many manufacturers changed as costs increased, resulting in so called “cheater packaging.” Cheater packaging has been around for many years, however, the proliferation has increased dramatically in the last couple of years. 

Normal size for toilet paper sheets

The standard two-ply toilet paper traditionally has 500 sheets to the roll, sized at 4.5 in. by 4.5 in., with 96 rolls to the case. However, this is not the standard anymore. Sizes have shrunk and often times the sheets measure 4.3 in. by 3.1 in., not to mention a decrease from 96 rolls to 80 rolls per case from several manufacturers. Jumbo rolls used to carry 1,000 linear feet of paper, however a growing trend among some manufacturers is to fluff the paper so that 800 feet “fluffed with air” looks like 1,000 linear feet. Cheater packaging can result in 20% less product, without a price reduction!

The story on liners

The increases in fuel prices in the past few years have directly impacted the price of liners, as they are made with petroleum resin and, in fact, it has helped to create a market for “cheater liners.” As a result, as much as 1-3 inches are often reduced from the length and/or width to reduce the resin required for manufacturing. The labeling does not reflect this, so most buyers are unaware of the change. 

Standard two-ply toilet paper is normally 4.5"x4.5". Cheater packaging can result in toilet paper sheets sized at 3.5" x 4.5" without a price reduction!

© Chris Mccooey | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Problems with cheater packaging include:

  • Fewer rolls of papers per case
  • Smaller rolls/packages of paper
  • Inferior quality 
  • Product inconsistency 
  • More of the item being used due to poor quality and small sizes
  • Increased ordering 
  • Price

Tip # 1- Periodically check (audit) toilet paper, paper towels and liners received from distributors or janitorial companies

The only way to ensure a building is getting good value is to periodically check the consumables received. Are they the same sized products that you have received in the past? Some surprises may arise. Does the quality of the paper good feel the same? If not, contact the distributor of the items to inform them of your observations. If the distributor refuses to acknowledge this discrepancy, it may be time to look at other options. 

Tip # 2- Ask your janitorial cleaning company to monitor the quality of the products

If the restroom consumables are being supplied by your janitorial cleaning company, ask them to monitor the quality, size and cost of the products. Also, ask the cleaning company to obtain the crew’s observations on any changes in quality or packaging, since they work with these goods daily. 

Tip # 3- Keep a sample of the type of toilet paper, paper towel and liner as reference

Often times it can be difficult to feel the difference between high quality and slightly lower quality or to notice the slight size difference. Therefore, keeping a sample can provide a baseline to compare the size and quality.

Staying on-top of cheater packaging is important to ensure a consistent quality of restroom consumables, as well as ensuring your budget dollars are getting the best bang for their buck! 

Have you experienced any cases of cheater packaging? What actions did you take? 


Original article published in Facilities Today Magazine December 2012 written by Arely Castellón LEED Green Associate, “Auditing Your Consumables”