The math is in! We studied the most Efficient paper cleaning product. For decades I’ve been frustrated every time I had to clean up a spill, wash down a counter-top, or got food on my face.
Should I be using a napkin to wipe my face? A paper towel? Did I just waste money?
Should I be toughing it out and using toilet paper for everything?
Designing Test Methods + The Math
There were three areas we wanted to investigate:
- Meters Of Material Per Dollar
- Water Absorption Per Dollar
- Strength Per Dollar
Meters Of Material Per Dollar
Objective math. Multiply Square Meters Per Package by number of ply and divide by the cost.
Seems simple enough until you spend 2 hours recording notes of various toilet papers while Walmart employees keep a close eye on you.
Water Absorption Per Dollar
Shout out to Christopher B. and Jacob R. for the measurement method, I think I saw this on TV Commercial.
- Fill bowl with water
- Set on scale, tare to 0g
- Put paper product in water, lift and wait for drips to stop
- Record weight delta
I used the microwave popcorn method, 4 seconds without a drip = stop dripping.
Strength Per Dollar
We clamped one end of the paper product to a piece of wood, and let the other end hang. We then attached clamps to the other side. Each clamp weighed 160g. Once it teared, we used the quantity of clips it successfully held as our metric.
This is attribute data because we only could test integers of weights.
Paper Products don’t seem to spend the effort to brand themselves much. There were multiple types of generic, for instance- paper towels labeled “Paper Towel”.
During the test phases, we bought 17 popular products for testing, for science! (I feel like these studies could be the subject of Portal 3)
Highlighted denotes top 3 of one of the categories.
Material Per Dollar
1 ply items seem to win this category. But… if you ever used 1 ply toilet paper- You will understand why we decided we needed to continue to test.
By pure length alone, here are the top products:
Water Absorbed Per Dollar
Now this was interesting, 1 ply toilet paper topped the list if you are trying to absorb on the cheap. Although I’d probably recommend a towel for water spills.
Low cost paper towels and napkins are an honorable mention.
Strength Per Dollar
Since these are based on attribute data(0,1,2,3 clips) the data should be used more like a Yes/No. Consider that anything above 30,000 is strong ‘enough’.
The weirdest thing was that Great Value Premium napkins held a 2.5lb weight. Nothing else could claim that accomplishment.
Based on the Grams of Water Absorbed/ Dollar and strength, we will be cleaning up our disposable messes with Brawny. Honorable mentions to Great Value Quilted Napkins, Great Value 2 Ply Paper Towels, and Bounty Select Prints.
Major water spills can be cleaned with towels, but if you are cleaning up a gallon spill of milk, 1 ply toilet paper is the most cost efficient.
Facial tissue was consistently the most expensive.
During a strength test, we tried adding water to the center of a paper towel and it didnt affect strength significantly. As soon as the water hit the clamp, they would often rip.
Wadding up 3 sheets of single ply did not increase strength. Mass of water absorbed was negligibly similar.
Misses Efficiency got super excited for the Frozen Printed Paper Towel. She has never seen Frozen, but she wanted to use that type first. Marketing is a real thing.
The volume of hundreds of paper towels, napkins, and toilet paper occupying our home is- Not Negligible 😛
We have gotten feedback to test specific products, but I know I’m missing your favorites. I wanted to only email when I have a high quality article but I’ll be occasionally sending a “Request For Feedback” email about future topics. Goal is to get the data you are looking for. I’ll label it in the subject so you know its not an Efficiency Is Everything article.