Most everyone feels the same way about toilet paper. We don’t want to pay too much for it, we want it to be soft enough so that it doesn’t hurt tender regions, we want it to be absorbent enough to do the job intended, we want it to be strong enough to not fall apart during use, which, when that happens, essentially negates the entire point of using toilet paper. In fact, there is such widespread agreement about toilet paper standards that if it was a political party, good and affordable toilet paper would control the House, the Senate, AND the Oval Office.

Joseph C. Gayetty may not have realized this when he put the first toilet paper on the market in 1857, but he did kick off what has become a huge business, with competition and advertising rivaling that of the automotive industry. That’s part of what makes choosing toilet paper so difficult. Adding to this national toilet paper bewilderment is that fact that manufacturers change packaging and toilet paper sizes all the time. It’s not unusual to walk down the paper products aisle of a supermarket and pass half a dozen people staring slack-jawed at the stacks and rows of toilet paper, trying to figure out the difference between a mega roll and a supreme roll, and if one is a better buy than the other. While we can’t be there in the aisle (or the web page) with you, we can provide these three tips for choosing the best toilet paper for your dollar and your comfort:

Watch the Width

Six times longer than standard rolls. Kimberly-Clark Professional

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A manufacturer may claim to have more sheets per roll than a competitor, but that may not stand up if the roll is also narrower, giving you less toilet paper overall. This can mean that you need more sheets to do the job than a wider sheet, negating whatever price you paid. Look at labels to compare width, and if it’s not listed, and don’t be above measuring width in the store.

Pay Attention to Ply

Quilted Northern’s Ultra Plush toilet paper has three plies. Quilted Northern

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A ply is a layer of material, so beware of brands that claim to have many more sheets than a competitor, but whose toilet paper is only one ply. While ply thicknesses do differ, no makers of one-ply paper claim theirs is thicker than a competitor’s two-ply paper. If you buy one-ply paper because it’s inexpensive, you may wind up losing money because you need more paper to do the job. If thickness is important to you for comfort and absorbency reasons, look to two-ply or even three-ply paper.

Be Careful with Super Sizes

Rolls of Cottonelle’s Ultra ComfortCare toilet paper should fit on any toilet paper holder. Cottonelle

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While large rolls of toilet paper may seem convenient (reducing the frequency of removing an empty roll from the toilet paper holder and putting on a new one), they can be so wide that you need to balance the roll on the spindle, or store it on top of your toilet tank, until through use it becomes narrow enough to fit. A standard size roll then becomes more convenient.

And here’s a tip: If you find a good buy on super-sized rolls but they’re too big for your toilet paper holder, a toilet paper holder extender will make everything right.