Puffs and Kleenex top our tough tissue tests

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With all the graduations that June brought and summer weddings that follow, you might as well keep the tissues close at hand. Sure, they become a necessity during the cold and flu season, and allergy season is nothing to sneeze at, but tissues for tears also require softness and strength. Consumer Reports put 18 products to the test and found big differences.

First, a look at our tests. We used an Instron material testing machine, which stresses each tissue until it rips, to test strength. For softness human hands work better, so up to seven trained testers judged each tissue against predefined softness standards using a five-point scale in a room with a set temperature and humidity. The results? Our tests found that the products ranged from fair to excellent.

Puffs, Kleenex, repeat. Five products offer an impressive combination of strength and softness and are recommended. The top-rated Puffs Ultra Soft & Strong was the strongest of all and soft, making it excellent. Kleenex Lotion Aloe & E was softer and strong, and its price and excellent score make it a CR Best Buy. The other recommended picks are from Puffs, Kleenex, and Puffs again.

What's in a name? Bottom-rated Ology Soft & Strong sold at Walgreens was one of the least soft. And CVS's Total Home Soft & Strong? Not so strong. However, if what you've always wanted is a tissue that feels cool right out of the box, Kleenex Cool Touch tissues do. The Kleenex website claims this is the only tissue that actively releases a cool sensation to soothe a sore nose.

For the full list check the results of our facial tissue tests. You'll see tissues with lotion, store brands from Costco, Target, Walmart, and others. Need a dehumidifier to go with those tissues? Humidity levels over 50 percent can breed dust mites, mildew, and mold, which may worsen allergies. Our dehumidifier Ratings show that the best dehumidifiers aren't necessarily the most expensive. Now that's a relief.

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