Best everyday products for college students

Items that made the grade in Consumer Reports' tests

Last updated: July 29, 2015 08:00 AM

When children are in elementary school, teachers typically send home a list of school supplies that parents should buy. When they go off to college, students need some of the same everyday items but this time you have to come up with the list. Keep in mind that students will be moving into unfurnished spaces and will want familiar things such as paper towels, tissues, batteries and laundry detergent within easy reach. The experts at Consumer Reports scoured our labs and found some extraordinary everyday products.

Paper towels

In Consumer Reports tests of paper towels, Bounty soaks up the first three spots. When Bounty introduced the Bounty DuraTowel claiming that it's a "cloth-like, durable paper towel that leaves surfaces three times cleaner than a used dishcloth," our testers were anxious to try it. We pitted the DuraTowel against regular Bounty and found that it was stronger and lasted about 30 percent longer in our scrubbing tests. But it also cost more: $4.04 a roll vs. $2.62 for Bounty Extra Soft and $2.24 for Bounty Giant. You can get good paper towels for a lot less including Great Value Strong & Absorbent from Walmart, $2.09, and Kirkland Signature Premium Big Roll from Costco, $1.47.

Facial tissues

The results of our facial tissue tests, which measure both strength and softness, are nothing to sneeze at. Three varieties of Puffs and two of Kleenex made our list of top tissue picks. If you've got the sniffles, consider tissues with a lotion such as Kleenex Lotion Aloe & E, at $1.36 a CR Best Buy. But don't try to clean your glasses with them. For that try our top-rated tissue, Puffs Ultra Soft & Strong, $1.69. Brands from Walmart, CVS, Target and Costco also did well in our tests and typically cost less.


Gone are the days of Walkmans and portable CD players but students still need batteries for remotes, clocks, flashlights and cameras. In our tests of AA batteries, Duracell Quantum AA Alkaline, $$1.00 per battery, and Duracell Coppertop AA Alkaline, $1.00 a battery, topped the group of alkaline batteries. But for just 27 cents a battery, you can buy our CR Best Buy, Kirkland Signature AA Alkaline at Costco. In our tests of lithium batteries, Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA, $2.50, and Energizer Advanced Lithium AA, $2.25, topped our tests but cost much more.

Toilet paper

Dormitories provide their own toilet paper but for students living off-campus this everyday staple is a necessity they may not be used to buying. In our toilet paper tests, White Cloud Ultra Soft & Thick from Walmart scored excellent in and strength and very good in softness and at 25 cents per 100 sheets is a CR Best Buy. If you don't shop at Walmart, we also tested brands from Target, Walgreens and Costco, although none made our recommended list.

—Izabela Rutkowski

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