Bleached vs Unbleached Toilet Paper: Which is Better?

Written by

Paulk Webb


Freddie J. Hagopian

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bleached vs unbleached toilet paper

Is toilet paper bleached? Yes, its white color is achieved through bleaching that involves chlorine. The said substance produces dioxin, which is deemed harmful. Since there are toilet paper types that don’t go through bleaching, it’s just right to explore bleached vs unbleached toilet paper.

Unbleached toilet paper is generally produced through sustainable means. The raw material doesn’t include tree fibers. Recycled paper is also used. But you may have heard or thought that it can have a rough texture. That’s why it’s best to discuss the pros and cons of these different types of toilet paper.

Bleached Toilet Paper


  • The color

You can’t deny that white, bleached toilet paper is common. Its color is a symbol of purity, which is related to cleanliness.

  • Different options

Since this is the first-ever toilet paper, it’s in various creations. First, you can expect the softness to pamper your skin, especially if it’s two-ply or three-ply. Some toilet paper brands produce embossed types that promote a luxurious experience.


  • The cutting of trees

Based on the report of the National Resources Defense Fund, trees in million acres of forest are cut down annually to meet the demand for toilet paper in the United States. Just imagine that the said piece of land is equivalent to seven National Hockey Leagues. Specifically, only boreal forests are involved to meet the demands for wood pulp. This activity is not good for the planet so the downside is how the product is made.

Unbleached Toilet Paper


Unbleached toilet paper is made with sustainability in mind. Recycled paper or tree-free fiber material is used. Some companies use chlorine dioxide to overcome the roughness of tree-free fiber. Chlorine dioxide is known to be less harmful than the direct addition of chlorine. It’s the reason why bleach-free toilet paper is not white.

The use of chlorine dioxide or formally termed ECF or Elemental Chlorine Free is approved by American Forest and Paper Association as one of the substitutes for the bleaching procedure of paper. Other acceptable methods are TCF or Totally Chlorine Free and PCF or Process Chlorine Free. ECF is the appropriate method for tree-free fiber to be bleached and soft.

ECF includes hydrogen peroxide, an eco-friendly substance that only contains oxygen molecules. It has a positive biodegradability standpoint because it can break water and oxygen molecules. These things happen because hydrogen peroxide is naturally derived from cells of animals and plants. Also, it does its own cleansing by removing dirt, debris, mold, and bacteria.


  • Bleach-free

It’s a known fact that bleach can irritate a person’s skin. If it touches the toilet paper, you have to be careful since you use it to wipe your private parts. Due to this concern, you’ll be more at ease with unbleached toilet paper brands. You can’t risk your skin, especially if it’s the sensitive type.

  • Eco-friendly

The goal of producing unbleached toilet paper is through sustainability. This perspective shows care for the environment and the entire planet. So, advantages are not only viewed on the product itself but everything that is connected with it, including the production.


  • Not too soft and white

Some may not be comfortable with the color and texture of unbleached toilet paper. But there’s the softest bamboo toilet paper from Betterway that is embossed, 3-ply toilet paper.

What Toilet Paper Should You Have: Bleached or Unbleached?


These two types of toilet paper will be compared through the factors that concern users.

1. Appearance and texture

Most people would choose bleached toilet paper over the unbleached one if there’s no concern about its production method. They’re used to the white-colored sheets and the softness. As mentioned, Betterway is the best example of tree-free fiber toilet paper but the underside is rough. You just have to be mindful of which side you use to wipe your bum. In overall appearance and texture, bleached toilet paper is the winner.

2. Unsafe substances

The bleached toilet will come to your mind when talking about unsafe substances based on the involvement of bleach. You’re not wrong as bleach can deliver dioxins and formaldehyde in toilet paper.

Dioxins are toxic and can be a carcinogen. They can also damage reproductive and developmental issues. Formaldehyde poses a threat to women. It’s a carcinogen that gives rise to chronic vulvar irritation.

Due to these alarming health issues, here’s a list of unbleached toilet paper without the unsafe substances.

  • Betterway
  • Brandless
  • Best Value
  • Kirkland Signature ( Learn more pros & cons of Kirkland toilet paper in this article)
  • BimBamboo
  • Bambootiful
  • Marcal
  • Noo Trees
  • Dream Bright
  • 35 Everyday Value
  • WholeRoll Organic Bamboo
  • Who Gives a Crap
  • White Cloud
  • Seventh Generation
  • Silk & Soft No Trees
  • Thrive Market Hybrid Bamboo

Does Scott toilet paper have bleach? You may ask this question as the brand is not included in the list of toilet paper brands without formaldehyde and other unsafe substances.

The manufacturer claims to use elemental chlorine in a process similar to bleaching. Thus, they can make white-colored toilet paper but with a feeling of dustiness. What I like about Scott toilet paper is that it’s coreless.

Recycled paper for unbleached toilet paper can’t ensure complete safety. BPA and BPS can get their way to the toilet paper through the thermal receipt paper. They’re known as endocrine disruptors. Even more negative impacts are discovered by studies such as early puberty, breast cancer, low sperm count, and reproductive problems. It just implies that BPA and BPS may be present in toilet paper made from recycled paper.

There are completely unbleached toilet paper brands that combine bamboo and sugarcane. When using bamboo to produce toilet paper, a safer alternative is practiced. The combination of bamboo and sugarcane is 100% unbleached and chlorine-free.

However, it’s rare and surely not soft to the touch. Some of these brands are ECOS Treeless, Fanny, Pure Planet, Caboo, Public Goods, Seedling, and Tree Free Green 2.

  • Cost

When comparing the bleached Cottonelle toilet paper to Betterway, a tree-free toilet paper, you can save more money when buying the former. It’s a good deal if you buy in bulk. I calculated the difference per pack and sheets, Cottonelle can save you a dollar for every roll and when you buy in a pack of 10 rolls, your saving is $10. It depends on you if you want to save money or help protect the environment in small ways.

The Verdict: Bleached or Unbleached Toilet Paper?

In the discussion of bleached vs unbleached toilet paper, individuals who are dedicated to protecting the environment choose the latter. The sustainability method convinces them. The issue of BPA and BSP on recycled paper, one of the materials used for unbleached type, may be off. In reality, the bleached toilet paper continues to fill the shelves of the supermarket. Hence, it’s not easy to sway people to switch to toilet paper made of tree free fiber. It’s maybe a matter of price and comfort.

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