Cost analysis of a toilet wipe

The folks at Dollar Shave Club have a new product out: One Wipe Charlies, a peppermint-scented toilet wipe they claim is better than normal toilet tissue. Their video sure is flashy, but how much more will it cost me? Is this worth the cost?

One Wipe Charlies are selling for $4 for 40 wipes. That's a dime a wipe, and I'll buy the claim that it only takes one. At my house we order our TP in bulk from Amazon: Ultra Plush 3-ply double rolls from Quilted Northern for $25.94 per 48 pack. Shipping included. It's surprising how convenient it is to just have this show up at the door.

Each roll has 176 sheets, and with 48 rolls that comes to about $0.0031 per sheet. If you're allowing a dime a dump, you can run all the way up to 32.5 sheets before you match the cost of a One Wipe Charlie. That's a fifth of a roll! You're probably managing to get the job done in 10-12 sheets, around 3 cents per.

Sorry, Charlie. No fancy marketing is going to get me to triple my budget in this department.

Quilted Northern Ultra Plush 3-ply double rolls, 48 pack at Amazon


    1. Costco’s about half as expensive as Amazon if you go for the Kirkland brand 2 ply: $0.0014/sheet. Their 2 ply Charmin is actually more expensive at $0.0037/sheet.

  1. “Sorry, Charlie. No fancy marketing is going to get me to triple my budget in this department.”

    Unless you want your butt actually clean.

    Let me ask you this, if your pet poo’d on the carpet, would you use dry paper towels to clean the carpet?

        1. Thank God for the $39.95 shower handheld kit.  A quick swipe with paper and a single step into the shower for a proper clean-off.  You don’t even need to take your shirt off.

          A clean anus is a happy anus.

      1. You are, of course, completely free to go about your daily life with poop on your butt. Some of us don’t like that, though, and prefer to put as much of our poop down the twallit as is practicable.

        *shrug* pooptalk

  2. The point is to actually get your butt clean. TP doesn’t. You could go through a whole roll and it still wouldn’t be clean. You may not care about this, but someone else might.

    The best thing is a bidet/bidet seat or a good old-fashioned shower, but this is the next best thing. You can get “flushable wipes” online and at big-box stores for a bit less, I think, but like the delivery toilet paper- it’s nice to have the convenience of regular delivery.

    1. I buy the three pack of flushable toddler wipes at Target.  Good size and strength and fairly good price for what they are.

    2.  More Americans should look into the Japanese washlets.  They’re fucking amazing!  I had one in my apartment from the previous tenant, and it was lovely (until it sprang a leak).  Looking forward to getting one in my next place, as the work toilets are mostly squatties.

  3. im a big fan of flushable wipes, i usually use a few sheets of regular TP to clean up most of the ‘situation’ and then finish off with a single flushable wipe

    i don’t feel any need to order them discreetly online though, seems kind of silly

  4. “Sorry, Charlie. No fancy marketing is going to get me to triple my budget in this department.”


    1. Yea, I.. uh.. not sure what to think about that.
      Otherwise, is there a difference between these and those wipes that are already in the bathroom my wife buys at Target?

        1. You can always finish off with a little Tiger Balm down there if the Altoids don’t work.

  5. Bidet toilet seat attachment. Your bum will thank you. No need to get fancy with the electric ones. The thirty dollar units that hook up to the cold water supply work just fine. 

    1. COLD water??!!  That then goes to a warming element, before speeding up the crack of your wazoo, I hope!

      1. Powered bidet attachments have heaters for the water, usually for the seats too.

        I got a Brondell Swash a few years ago and never looked back!

        Dry paper is no way to clean something, and wipes are not good for your plumbing.

        The result (to your posterior) is superior.

  6. Anyone with a septic system knows that  “flushable” wipes may be flushable, but that doesn’t mean that they disintegrate when they get wet.  They are wet in the package and they haven’t disintegrated after sitting on the shelf for months.  Go ahead and flush wipes if you want to risk clogging your plumbing or doing thousands of dollars of damage to your septic system.  Sewage treatment plants hate the things.  Toilet paper is designed to completely disintegrate when it gets wet.  There is a reason TP is the standard.  Ask a plumber.

    And the idea of having used wipes in a little trash can by the toilet is fairly gross.  I’ll stay with TP,  and regularly shower, thank you.

    1. My parents have been using them for 20+ years and never had a problem.  Of course they also flush down some septic treatment helper every month or so.

    2. True enough.  “Flushable” is a marketing gimmick, like “wash, rinse, repeat.”  

  7. I understand that the reason that many debutantes carry small yipping dogs everywhere is that they take care of such hygiene needs for their mistress.

  8. “No fancy marketing is going to get me to triple my budget in this department.”

    If they actually work better, an increase of less that $10/month is a bargain. “I refuse to pay more ever” is a great recipe for saving money, but not for improving the quality of your, um, experiences.

  9. Quilted Northern is a Georgia Pacific product.  Georgia Pacific is owned by Koch Industries.  Make of that what you will.

        1. Hell, I’d quadruple my budget in this department if they’d do that.  Huge opportunity they’re missing here.

  10. “I’ll buy the claim that it only takes one”

    I don’t. Sometimes, sure. Though sometimes you can pull a one and done no matter what. I say this as someone who has used wet wipes: sometimes, if you want to get all the poo off, you’ll need to use more than one.

    Other than that: sure wet wipes are great. They can mess up your plumbing. But they sure are nice on your butt.

    1. The Phantom Dump (the one that leaves no evidence on the very first wipe) is a daily goal of mine, but one I achieve maybe twice a year.  And some days, dear God, but six or seven wipes ain’t enough.

      I envy my kids and their single-wipe little fannies.  Mine has become annoyingly high-maintenance in later years.

      Oh, and thank you all for such an entertaining thread.  I feel like we’re all one big oversharing family now.

      1. Such a dump has a name?  And you’re actually shooting for this ‘no evidence pooping’ as a daily goal?

        As a lifetime member of the Constipation Club, my goal is to go every day too, but have to settle for two or three times a week.  But if I was regular and I found nothing to wipe after the effort, I’d feel CHEATED!  For some folks, wiping is just a chore; for others, it’s their reward!  Without anything on the toilet paper, I’d just be standing there, pulling my drawers up and staring into the bowl, feeling relieved yet oddly unsatisfied.  Maybe a little wistful.

        I could go on, but I don’t want to overshare.

        1. Seriously, there’s something disturbing about taking what feels like a perfectly respectable and reasonably solid dump, then producing wipe after wipe after wipe of foulness, necessitating a double flush so the paper itself doesn’t clog the bowl.  Makes you wonder what the hell has gone so horribly wrong back there.

          Puts one in mind of the man from Bhogat,
          “…who never could sit but he shat.
          Oh, the seat of his drawers
          Was a Chamber of Horrors,
          And they felt even fouler than that!”

          1. Agreed, although in this house it’s not the toilet paper clogging up the crapper that worries us; it’s the poop. 

            Should I make the mistake of enjoyment or distract while sitting on the commode, and wait till the end to flush, there’s a very good chance the toilet will back up and ours are not ‘low-flow’ type. 

            Therefore, as I look behind me, wiping, I can see poop and water rising up to the rim, and I too must stand up, drawers on the floor, poopy paper in hand… and, of course, the plunger is gone, still in the bathroom it was last used in to address that poopy panic… and I’m alone in the house.

            There will be no rescue, nor witnesses to my discomfiture.  So off I shuffle to another bathroom to finish my business and find the damned plunger… then cleaner and disgruntled, walk back to the stinky half bath where I was brought low once again, to suction the poop plug from trap while cursing all temperamental plumbing.  Sigh.

            My body is not what it was and never will be again, but there are things I’ve learned to appreciate even more… conversations with friends that are timeless, humor that makes me laugh till I’m sideways in my chair with mirth.  Those memories I can take to my grave… and I believe, beyond.

  11. Wipes are also destroying sewer systems.  The don’t dissolve and catch fat that is going down the water stream. If you HAVE to wipe with them, set up a sanitary bag (say a plastic grocery bag) in a waste basket in your bathroom, do NOT flush the things.

    1.  Diaper Genie.  Diaper Genie and baby wipes (non-flushable).

      For those uninitiated, it’s kind of like having a unicorn gently cleanse the old sphincter with it’s tongue, until it’s squeaky clean.

      That’s all I’m going to say.

  12. Oops, sorry, I couldn’t hear your cost analysis over the sound of me buying peppermint buttwipes on the internet.

    1. The wand is too long and awkward… 
      In reference to Sear’s products, I prefer a damp buffing pad on a 35,000 rpm Dremel.

  13. I tend to go for the Preparation-H witch hazel moistened ass-wipes, myself. Spic and span, my arse is after one of those things.

    This may be my favorite link/post on boingboing evvaarrrrrrr.

  14. We have come a long, long way since our ancestors just tore a page out of last year’s Sears & Roebuck catalogue in the smell little house out back – and were glad for it. Or if you didn’t want to make the trip in bad weather you had to just get rid of the evidence the next day. When you had no running water or a toilet with a flush handle to magically swish it all away, you could be excused for not knowing what the hell “toilet paper” was. As for a shower, that was a term for a light rain. No one could wish to return to those days re: hygiene! But, butt, methinks we get a wee bit anal sometimes.

    1. We have come a long, long way since our ancestors just tore a page out of last year’s Sears & Roebuck catalogue in the smell little house out back

      That wasn’t my ancestors; that was me.

      1. In one of my oldest recurring nightmares, I dream I’m in a Porta-Potty and drop my keys or my wallet down the hole.  I shared that dream with a friend while we were driving through a national park.  She asked how much money would it take for me to fish them back out.

        To this day, when I walk into a Porta-Potty, the first thing I do after locking the door, is set my valuables down as far from the seat as possible.  Yes… I know… but it’s hygiene vs. peace of mind.

        1. I’ve been witness to somebody dropping a pair of Felco #8s into a Porta-Potty. I think that she bit the bullet and fished them out.

          1. When faced with a Porta-Potty, I walk to the nearest building, extend my hand for the footman to kiss and ask to use the bathroom. Almost anybody will let you use the bathroom if you just ask nicely. If that doesn’t work, whisper, “I need to change the dressing on my anal cyst.”

          2. My late brother Craig had good advice for crappin’ on the go: car dealerships.  Always clean and well-maintained and never put out if you use their facilities without actually making a purchase.

  15. ‘Reach Around… For a Deeper Clean’

    Made for a man, but wouldn’t baby wipes be easier to buy and cheaper?  They are definitely made to gently clean up after a messy dump.

  16. These kinds of wipes can do absolutely horrible things to people who are allergic to any of the preservatives, surfactants or humectants they contain. If you’re having issues down there and continuing to use wet wipes because you think they’re gentle and will help the issue, you’re probably making things worse, and the wipes likely caused the problem in the first place. 

    If you’re not allergic, go for it. They do a good job. I did like using them myself until I realized my horrible, on-going … problems (no one likes to admit to having had butt problems, but if it helps someone I guess I’ll bite the bullet) were completely due to using various brands of wet wipes. Everything cleared up once I stopped using them. 

    I do think they get things a tiny bit cleaner, and I kinda miss them. But they’re not worth another trip to the hospital. 

    By the way, here’s a bit of info about this. I’m not sure if methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI) was behind (get it?) my problems or not, butt it sounds likely.

    That all said, that video was pretty hilarious. 

  17. Anyone using TP that is not 100% recycled, because premium my-ass-deserves-woodlot-TP brands are comfortable or scented or 5-ply or quilted or whatever, 

    c’mon… HTFU and get with the real deal, soaked corn-cobs in a bucket next to the crapper, use them once and then huck them at people going by your house. It’s good for the environment and great fun too!

  18. When we decided to start cloth-diapering our daughter, my wife and I decided to take it all the way–cloth towels, cloth wipes for her, and cloth wipes for us.  We just put our used cloth wipes in a wet bag like we would the cloth diapers, then we throw them in the wash with the cloth diapers.  The additional cost in water and detergent is minuscule, and the wipes themselves are heaven on the rear.  They were easy to make, too.

    1. Believe it or not, there’s a school of thought that says having to wash terry cloths is actually more environmentally damaging than using disposable nappies (lots of energy required).

      I appreciate that for some reason this doesn’t seem to be a factor in the discussion today, but thought I’d mention anyway as I found it quite surprising.

      Take with a pinch of salt because I have neither the time nor inclination to research it – but I used to judge those that used disposable nappies, now not so much.

      1. This is same “school of thought” that says that an electric car is more polluting than an SUV, that more guns make us safer, and that Brawndo has electrolytes.

        1. Not quite. The point is that it’s more complicated than it seems, and of course that there are different kinds of ‘bad’.

          Nappies are bad because they’re toxic waste that can’t easily be disposed of, terry cloths are bad because washing things (assuming you use a washing machine) is actually quite an energy intensive process – both at the source, and in the disposal of the water (and the use of water in the first place, which has its own environmental impacts).

          My other half works in the waste (and environment) sector, so it’s not something I’m flippant about :)

          But as I say, take with a pinch of salt, more of a conversation point; I don’t have any data.

      2. The “research” that supposedly proves disposable diapers/nappies are no more environmentally damaging than cloth is fundamentally flawed and therefore laughably wrong.

        The arguments are based on the average number of disposables purchased for an individual baby/toddler until potty-trained.

        Just think about it logically for a moment:  raw materials including all the chemicals, shipped to factories, put together to make the diapers, waste from the factories (including waste water, smokestack, etc.), shipped to warehouses and then individual stores, each family driving at least once a week to the store to buy more, garbage pickup, and finally thousands of years in landfill.  All this for how many thousands of disposables, repeated again each time for each new kid?

        And then they reproduce this number to argue that the creation of as many thousands of cloth diapers/nappies, shipping, and then washing them is really the same amount of environmental impact.

        Except they’re comparing apples to paperclips.

        Here’s a real-life example from my family: we were given 2 dozen cloth diapers in perfect condition from friends who had put their two kids through them first.  We bought a total of 3 dozen more, just because the newer, shaped diapers are really quite convenient with the diaper covers.  Diapers were washed approximately one load a week (more often in the early months).  Kept using all 5 dozen diapers through all the kids, then handed them down to another family who put them through two more kids that I know of before they moved away (and they were Catholic, so there’s no reason to assume they stopped at two).  The only diapers I kept were those original hand-me-downs because they were European cotton and thus really exceptional cleaning rags. So, we’re talking about 60 diapers, something like 30 years of use, and they’re all still in use somewhere.  And if/when they ever go to landfill, at 100% cotton they’ll biodegrade a lot quicker than disposables.

        60 diapers being created, not thousands.  60 diapers transported to our home in two trips, not once a week (or more) for years.  60 diapers for over a half-dozen children, not a new set of thousands for each child.

        One hot water washing load a week simply doesn’t add up to the total environmental impact of disposables.  And don’t forget that our sewer system is set up to handle human waste, unlike our landfill system.

        This does not mean a family can’t make the decision to use disposables all or some of the time.  Every family has a different situation to deal with.  But arguing that disposables are environmentally equal to cloth is wrong.

        1. Good insight! As I say more of a conversation point (I may have presented it more factually than intended…). I don’t believe I’ve ever gone as far as to research it, more just something that’s come up in the past as an argument that I’ve let swim around in the old noggin. The raw materials would certainly be the part I’d personally hinge a lot on, as I imagine they both use cotton (?) which isn’t the greenest of materials anyway, and as you say, terry cloth is a one-off, compared to a horrifying number of disposables.

          I think we can all agree that the best solution is to get rid of the babies.

        2. Plus, a gift certificate for three months of Dy-Dee Wash was such an easy shower gift.

        3. The “research” that supposedly proves disposable diapers/nappies are no more environmentally damaging than cloth is fundamentally flawed and therefore laughably wrong.

          It’s not just one study, you know- this has been looked at again and again for 20+ years.
          The latest research by the UK Environment Agency concluded that reusable nappies are marginally better (as long as you use your washing machine sensibly). They did consider reuse of nappies for other children- this reduced the environmental impact by about 10% for each further child.

          One hot water washing load a week simply doesn’t add up to the total environmental impact of disposables.

          Sewerage impact has to be considered too, assuming that solid waste from reusable nappies is flushed. 
          Read the report, see if you’re still convinced afterwards…

          1. Unfortunately I don’t have time today for a 37-page report.  Here are a couple of quick thoughts based on a 5-minute read:

            “Due to the complexity of the product system, it is impractical to draw a full system diagram that includes all processes where human influence occurs.”

            This was in reference to figuring out the complete environmental impact of disposables.  Yeah, exactly, that’s a big part of the problem: the process to make and dispose of them is significantly more complex.  We’re probably not registering the full cost to the environment.

            “the study has considered, through a sensitivity analysis, the scale of the benefit that can be achieved by combining some of these choices, specifically, reuse on a second child, high load efficiency, and 100 per cent line drying. The study has also used a sensitivity analysis to consider the scale of environmental harm that can be done through a high energy consumption scenario, of 100 per cent tumble drying and washing at a high temperature.”

            That’s EXACTLY what is missing in the US-based studies I’ve read.

            As for solid waste: everyone else in the family (usually two parents, any older children) is using the sewage system as it is designed to be used.  The addition of one more person’s poop is a drop in the bucket (hah) in comparison to having that poop sit wrapped inside a chemical sandwich in a landfill for thousands of years.

            The report gives short shrift to this end part of the cycle.  There is a huge environmental cost in the landfill years, but it was barely addressed.  Instead, the majority of text in the report was about laundry details.  No part of the disposable scenario was delved into so deeply.  So while I want to believe this was a better study, and some aspects of it do seem to be more accurate/balanced, I’m still skeptical that they have in fact determined the full costs of disposables in their equation.

            I appreciate the link.  It is definitely a much better report than the other ones I’ve read!!

            (P.S. I hate Disqus.)

      3. I can imagine that being the case.  You certainly do a good job laying out all of the different considerations.  I need to compare energy bills from before and after; I’m generally a market guy, so I’m inclined to think that the most cost-effective choice is also the least resource intensive choice (again, as a general truth–as you pointed out, the issue is incredibly complex).

  19.  Couple of things here:

    1. Everyone has different anatomy and what works butt wiping wise for one person may not work as well for others.

    2. In a recent study of public pool water it was determined that the average person has 1.4g of feces on their perianal area. It is apparently proper to shower before using a public pool but few people do it.

    1.  Yeah, that was rather shocking to read.  I used to go to the pool in Japan, where they’re anal(!) about rules, and us Westerners used to scoff at the rule about showering before swimming.  Now, maybe, not so much.  (Although, I should say the cultural habit of hawking loogies into the middle of the pool is rather disgusting.)

    2.  1.4g sounds like a lot to me.  I call shenanigans.  That’s either a made up statistic, or the study is seriously flawed.  I’d expect 1.4g on someone who doesn’t wipe at all, and I think most people wipe.  I’d believe 0.14g, but I simply don’t believe 1.4g.  That’s wrong.  In fact, I don’t believe there even was a study.  Who is going to volunteer to participate in such a study?

        1.  Thanks for the links!  I believe the children thing.  Kids are filthy little things.

          1.  Talking to myself here now, I guess.  I think kids are messier and so can have more fecal matter, but I found no support for that 1-10g number.

            The 0.14g number comes from this:

            Gerba CP. Assessment of enteric pathogen shedding by bathers
            during recreational activity and its impact on water quality. Quant Microbiol


             “A literature
            review was conducted by searching index Medics, journal indexes, books, meeting
            abstracts, and the literature collection of the author. Information was
            collected on the fecal shedding of enteric viruses, protozoa,  coliform, and fecal coliform bacteria. This information
            was used to estimate concentrations shed by a potential bother.  Information was also sought on studies where the amount of shedding of
            indicator bacteria or enteric pathogens had been documented or from which it
            could be calculated by the data presented in the manuscript. Incidence data was also collected to
            estimate the number of individuals who might be excreting a particular pathogen
            at any one time.”

            So it’s all just a bunch of estimating and educated guesses.  No actual sampling of perianal areas was done.

  20. WTH is wrong with people these days.  Recycled paper is the only way to go. The small steps brand is the one we use because that’s what they sell in the local supermarket.

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