Before toilet paper existed, people used whatever they had around to clean themselves -- leaves, corn cobs, scraps of fabric and paper. China produced the first toilet paper in the 14th century, on individual sheets sized 2 by 3 inches. The Scott Company was the first to put toilet paper on rolls -- the single rolls that became the standard. The introduction of 2-ply paper in 1942 made paper softer and more absorbent. In 1994, Charmin introduced a double roll of toilet paper.
Some double rolls offer more than others. A survey of supermarket shelves in 2011 revealed that the number of sheets of paper on various brand's double rolls range from 176 to 352. Single rolls had approximately 150 sheets per package. "Giant," "family," "jumbo," "mega," and triple rolls further confuse the issue.
Since there are no standard sizes for single and double rolls of toilet paper, to compute the best buy, figure the cost per sheet. Divide the cost of a package of toilet paper by the number of rolls in the package. This gives you the cost per roll. Then divide the cost per roll by the number of sheets on the roll to determine the cost per sheet. This will tell you if the single roll or double roll is a better value. Of course, for some people, the convenience of a having a roll that lasts longer outweighs the cost difference between the two.
According to The Toilet Paper Encyclopedia, the average person uses 8.6 sheets of toilet paper per bathroom visit, or about 20,805 sheets a year. In the average household's most used bathroom, someone has to install a new roll of paper every five days. Your household may or may not fall in line with these averages. If you choose to purchase double rolls or larger, check to see if the roll will fit on your current toilet paper holder. Some holders may not accommodate large rolls.