The Great Wipe Off! - RV Enthusiast Magazine

The Great Wipe Off!

by | Sep 8, 2022 | Pro Tip, RVEXPERT

All the toilet tissue used in the test. There are many choices on the market, but this test focused on the most common brands found in RV stores and online. Nature’s Call (bamboo), Nature Pure and Better Boat are not familiar names to most RVers but can be found online.

Photos by author

Comparison tests of popular — and some lesser-known — toilet paper brands reveal that not all products are created equal, but they are pretty close
Last summer, RV Enthusiast magazine performed an extensive test of one of the most pressing problems facing RVers — we put RV toilet paper through its paces. Since blackwater holding-tank issues — and the dreaded “poop pyramid”— continue to impact the RV lifestyle, we thought we’d encapsulate the entire test here for our RVExpert newsletter subscribers.

RV owners have a love-hate relationship with their holding tanks. Usually, the most problematic of these is the black tank — a waste receptacle, which can clog, create havoc with the monitor sensors and (as we’ve probably all discovered on occasion) emit terrible odors. If you’re looking for answers to why these tanks cause so much pain, just look in the mirror. Owners are known to neglect regular maintenance, introduce the wrong type of toilet paper — and use too much of it — fail to add proper chemicals and follow erroneous dumping procedures. Until bidets become commonplace in RVs, most of us will continue to use toilet paper for personal hygiene.

RVers must use products specifically designed to break down in the holding tank. While the famous bears in television ads love to use soft toilet paper on their tender tushies, RVs have different parameters.

Hence, The Great Wipeoff, wherein yours truly and three companion RVers “took one for the team” by overeating for a few days in order to fully assess the abilities of a variety of tissue types meant to keep us happy while on the road.

Yep, it was a messy job, but somebody had to do it.

kitchen counters topped with various brands of toilet paper
Toilet paper was strewn all over the interior of our fifth wheel during the testing period. Not the most beautiful décor items, and really lifted visitors’ eyebrows as they wondered about our bathroom habits.
Why? Because while we all love soft toilet paper that will clean our bottoms, reality dictates that some compromise is usually necessary to prevent holding tank clogging and allow the contents to flow forcefully enough to clean the tank when it is emptied.

We tested nine products, most of which are easily found in RV stores and places like Walmart. The less-common varieties — including toilet paper made from bamboo and tissue intended for the marine market, which faces the same problems — were for the most part bought on Amazon.

All nine varieties were blind-tested by the participants and each brand was further subjected to a breakdown test using a mason jar, one sheet of toilet paper, the same amount of water and number of shakes. Each brand also was subjected to an analysis of “cleaning effectiveness” whereby a single sheet was moistened and used when the urge struck to use the facilities. (Write your own jokes here.)

a mason jar filled with water and a single sheet of Dometic toilet paper
a mason jar filled with water and a single sheet of Thetford’s Aqua Soft toilet paper
a mason jar filled with water and a single sheet of Thetford’s 1-ply toilet paper
To determine each tissue’s ability to break down, a single sheet of each brand was placed in a Mason jar with water and agitated. Dometic toilet paper (left) did not break down in the initial shake test, but after vigorous shaking the fibers started to come apart. It’s important that when using this brand toilet paper, the holding tank is charged properly. Thetford’s Aqua Soft (center) broke down immediately after the first few shakes (its Campa Soft, sold in Walmart, was equally as effective). The clear winner in the breakdown contest was Thetford’s 1-ply toilet paper (right). It doesn’t take much moisture for this paper to dissolve.
Granted, these types of tests are subjective, but they were revealing. As we discovered during our “research,” testing toilet paper is risky business. While it’s true that not all toilet paper is equal, more importantly, not all bottoms are the same. Personal preferences also factor into what finds its way to your shopping cart. My wife, Lynne, and I have been using Aqua Soft and Campa Soft for as many years as we can remember and only strayed when supplies were impacted by pandemic hoarding. Fortunately, our RV’s bathroom cabinet is again stocked with Thetford’s toilet paper. The tests showed — and there was consensus here — that it’s hard to beat the overall performance of Aqua Soft and Campa Soft, but the others also work and, in some cases, will be preferred by users in the RV community. And those who hate the thought of cutting down trees will love the bamboo alternative. Price sensitivity and availability are also important.

So what was our take-away? Basically, all the products in this test will get the job done, so if your favorite brand is not on the shelf at the time you’re shopping, you can rest assured that there will be no adverse implications if you buy something else. Most importantly, make sure the holding tank is rinsed during each dumping session and several gallons of water are added to assist in breaking down the paper. Adding proper holding-tank chemicals is also critical for proper waste and toilet paper breakdown and will eliminate obnoxious odors.

So, wipe away folks, because just like the bears on TV seem to know full well, a clean tush is a happy tush.

Thetford Aqua Soft

Brand: Thetford Aqua Soft (thetford.com)
Packaging and Roll Size: 4 rolls; 396 sheets per roll
Street Price: $11.28 (Amazon)
The Sales Pitch: Thetford is synonymous with RV toilet products and its Aqua Soft is the leading brand of toilet paper on the market. This toilet paper is designed specifically for RV sanitation systems and is septic system safe. The “Soft Pure and Snowy White” toilet paper is 100% biodegradable and features “Premium Softness.”
Number of Plies: 2
Breakdown: Excellent
Cleaning Effectiveness: Excellent, texture on both sides is appreciated.
One Sheet Test: Holds up better than expected for a toilet tissue that breaks down so easily and fast.
Softness: Excellent

Better Boat—Boat + RV Toilet Paper

Brand: Better Boat—Boat + RV Toilet Paper (thebetterboat.com)
Packaging and Roll Size: 12 individually wrapped rolls; 500 sheets per roll
Street Pricing: $26.99 (Amazon)
The Sales Pitch: Laid-back, but to the point: “Eco Friendly” and 100% biodegradable. Lightly textured for optimal cleaning and quick dissolving. Not typically found in RV supply stores, but readily available in marine centers and on Amazon. Individually wrapped rolls is a big plus when it comes to storage.
Number of Plies: 2
Breakdown: Good to excellent
Cleaning Effectiveness: Pretty grabby without undue roughness.
One Sheet Test: Holds up well until damp. One sheet can finish the job, but most people will likely not want to go there.
Softness: Relatively soft, but not plush, and on the thin side, which relates to the large number of sheets per roll.

Camco RV & Marine Toilet Tissu

Brand: Camco RV & Marine Toilet Tissue (camco.net)
Packaging and Roll Size: 4 rolls; 500 sheets per roll
Street Pricing: $5.99 (Cabelas)
The Sales Pitch: From the well-known supplier of RV sanitation products, this toilet paper is said to dissolve fast, is septic-safe and ultra-soft.
Number of Plies: 2
Breakdown: Fair to Good. Little slow in the test but sitting in the holding tank will likely finish the breakdown.
Cleaning Effectiveness: Very good.
One Sheet Test: Holds up nicely, even when wet.
Softness: On the soft side with a tiny bit of scratchiness to offer very good cleaning power.

Thetford Campa Soft

Brand: Thetford Campa Soft (thetford.com)
Packaging and Roll Size: 6 rolls; 396 sheets per roll
Street Pricing: $7.96 (Walmart)
The Sales Pitch: This is the same product as Thetford’s Aqua Soft and is sold by Walmart. Same marketing highlights as Aqua Soft. Value pricing.
Number of Plies: 2
Breakdown: Excellent
Cleaning Effectiveness: Excellent, texture on both sides is appreciated, but different design than Aqua Soft.
One Sheet Test: Like Aqua Soft, holds up better than expected for such a fast-dissolving toilet tissue.
Softness: Excellent

Dometic Dissolving 2-Ply Toilet Tissue

Brand: Dometic Dissolving 2-Ply Toilet Tissue (dometic.com)
Packaging and Roll Size: 4 rolls; 500 sheets per roll
Street Pricing: $9.99 (West Marine, online)
The Sales Pitch: This product from RV industry giant Dometic is said to be 100% biodegradable, made from recycled, unbleached fibers and is touted to break up quickly to prevent clogging. Hard to find in RV stores, but we found it online at West Marine.
Number of Plies: 2
Breakdown: Good, eventually. Did not break down well in the shake test, but after longer agitation, it did, which means having a properly charged holding tank will be important.
Cleaning Effectiveness: Excellent; one of the best of the bunch
One Sheet Test: Excellent, very strong
Softness: Most of the testers thought it was harsh; one thought it was “soft enough.”

Nature Pure

Brand: Nature Pure
Packaging and Roll Size: 4 rolls; 280 sheets per roll
Street Pricing: $12.26 (Amazon; search under “CP Products 25965 Standard Toilet Tissue”)
The Sales Pitch: Made in the USA for RV and marine toilets, said to be quick dissolving and biodegradable. I found this paper in an RV supply store when supplies were almost non-existent due to the pandemic. Turned out to be a real rear-end saver, although not cheap. Don’t expect to find a website; it seems this toilet paper is marketed by CP Products, although the packaging shows made in Oregon by DTS Manufacturing. I just ordered it on Amazon.
Number of Plies: 2
Breakdown: Fair to Good; little slow to react
Cleaning Effectiveness: Excellent
One Sheet Test: Holds up well when wet, likely because it doesn’t dissolve as fast.
Softness: Excellent. Medium thickness and one of the softest in the bunch.

Nature’s Call
Brand: Nature’s Call (naturescallrvtp.com)
Packaging and Roll Size: 8 rolls; 300 sheets per roll
Street Pricing: $22.99 (Amazon)
The Sales Pitch: “Save Trees, Save Your Septic” is the battle cry for this toilet paper made from bamboo pulp. The company claims it’s fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, ultra-soft and strong, baby- and mom-safe (whatever than means), BPA-free, non-GMO and has no chlorine. I have to admit, it feels good to sit on the pot while practicing environmental conservation. Considering the staggering amount of toilet paper used worldwide, using renewable resources is a refreshing alternative.
Number of Plies: 2
Breakdown: Excellent
Cleaning Effectiveness: Very good; texture on one side really helps pick up “stuff.”
One Sheet Test: Strong
Softness: Smooth feeling, but not exceptionally soft.
Thetford Aqua Soft

Brand: Scott Rapid-Dissolving (scottbrand.com)
Packaging and Roll Size: 4 rolls; 231 sheets per roll
Street Pricing: $3.18 (Walmart)
The Sales Pitch: Made in the USA from domestic and imported materials, perfume-free and sustainably sourced. Scott paper goods can be found just about anywhere, including supermarkets and Walmart. This is a very popular product among RV owners and is value priced.
Number of Plies: 1
Breakdown: Very good; not as fast a Thetford’s one-ply.
Cleaning Effectiveness: Considering this is a one-ply tissue, it does a really good job of cleaning. It does feel a little scratchy to the touch, but in actual use it’s not bad. Thicker than one would expect for a one-ply tissue.
One Sheet Test: Surprisingly good
Softness: We’ll call it medium-soft.

Thetford RV/Marine Toilet Tissue
Brand: Thetford RV/Marine Toilet Tissue (thetford.com)
Packaging and Roll Size: 4 rolls; 350 sheets per roll
Street Pricing: $10.92 (Amazon)
The Sales Pitch: The quintessential one-ply toilet tissue. Thetford claims it is soft and gentle, dissolves quickly, is biodegradable and snowy white. Premium price for thinner toilet paper; go figure.
Number of Plies: 1
Breakdown: Superb; best in the group, but it’s pretty thin.
Cleaning Effectiveness: Depends on conditions. Can double up and get better cleaning and benefit from super-fast dissolving product. But that will be an expensive wipe.
One Sheet Test: Any moisture will cause one sheet to practically disintegrate, almost like magic.
Softness: Obviously very soft, but at times user may actually be using his/her hands rather than toilet paper. Not a lot of substance, but your holding tank will be happy.
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