Ah, the age-old toilet paper debate: should the roll hang over or under? While it may seem trivial to some, many people passionately defend their preference as if the very essence of bathroom origins depended on it. After all, there’s a proper toilet paper orientation, right? Let's unravel this enigma.
The Historical Perspective
The great toilet paper debate isn't new. In fact, the story traces back to 1891 when Seth Wheeler patented the toilet paper roll. Interestingly, his patent illustration showcased the roll as hanging "over" .
There are a few possible explanations for why Wheeler may have preferred this orientation. One possibility is that he believed it was more hygienic. When the toilet paper roll is hung "over," it is less likely to touch the wall or cabinet, which can harbor germs . Additionally, it is easier to grab the loose end of the toilet paper when it is hanging "over" .
Another possibility is that Wheeler simply thought it looked better this way. In the late Victorian era, when Wheeler patented his invention, bathrooms were becoming increasingly important as status symbols . People were eager to show off their wealth and taste with their bathroom décor. Wheeler may have believed that hanging the toilet paper roll "over" made the bathroom look more elegant and sophisticated.
Whatever Wheeler's reasons, his patent illustration provides us with a glimpse into the early history of the toilet paper roll. It also shows us that the debate over the correct way to hang toilet paper is not new. It is a debate that has been going on for over 130 years!
While there is no scientific evidence to suggest that one way of hanging toilet paper is more hygienic than the other, there are some practical considerations that may influence people's preferences.
The Case for “Over”
Ease of Access
The "over" position undoubtedly makes it easier to grab and tear the perforated toilet paper. No more fumbling or accidentally brushing against the wall. It’s all about seamless functionality.
When the toilet paper roll is hung "over," the loose end of the paper is easily accessible. This is especially important for people with mobility issues or who are using the toilet while seated. Additionally, hanging the toilet paper roll "over" makes it easier to tear the paper, as the user can simply pull it down on the loose end.
A prime concern in the toilet paper orientation battle revolves around hygiene. After all, cleanliness is of utmost importance, especially in public restrooms.
When the toilet paper roll is hung "over," the loose end of the paper is less likely to touch the wall or cabinet, which can harbor germs. Additionally, the user's hands are less likely to come into contact with the wall when they reach for the toilet paper. This reduces the risk of spreading bacteria from the wall to the user's hands, and from the user's hands to the toilet paper.
Public Opinion and Celebrity Endorsements
Interestingly, around 70% of Americans prefer the "over" method, according to various surveys . In a study involving 1,000 Americans, Cottonelle discovered that those who prefer the "over" orientation are more observant of the roll's direction (74%) compared to those who prefer "under". Additionally, 24% of "overs" get irritated when the roll is not in their preferred direction, and 27% have even changed the direction at a friend's house .
Even the queen of daytime TV, Oprah Winfrey, swears by the "over" orientation . If it's good enough for Oprah, who are we to argue?
The fact that the majority of people prefer the "over" method and that it is endorsed by celebrities suggests that there is something to it. The "over" position is simply more convenient and hygienic than the "under" position.
In addition to the benefits mentioned above, there are a few other potential advantages to hanging the toilet paper roll "over." For example, some people believe that it makes the bathroom look more tidy and organized. Others believe that it is easier to keep the toilet paper roll clean when it is hung "over."
The Case for “Under”
For those who cherish a minimalist, tidy look, the "under" position might appeal more. It hides the loose end, giving the bathroom a streamlined appearance. For many, it’s not just about the toilet paper hanging, it's about aesthetics.
When the toilet paper roll is hung "under," the loose end of the paper is hidden behind the roll. This can create a more streamlined and minimalist look in the bathroom. Additionally, the "under" position can help to keep the bathroom cleaner, as the loose end of the paper is less likely to touch the floor or other surfaces.
Prevention of Accidental Unrolling
Ever accidentally swiped a toilet roll and watched helplessly as the entire roll cascaded to the floor? With the "under" position, this risk diminishes significantly.
When the toilet paper roll is hung "under," it is less likely to unroll accidentally. This is because the loose end of the paper is tucked behind the roll. Additionally, the roll is less likely to be bumped or knocked over when it is hung "under."
Childproofing and Pet-Proofing
Children and pets seem to have a shared fascination with unraveling toilet paper. The "under" position, fortunately, reduces the chance of your feline or toddler having a field day with the roll.
When the toilet paper roll is hung "under," it is more difficult for children and pets to reach. This can help to prevent them from unrolling the entire roll of toilet paper. Additionally, the "under" position makes it less likely that children and pets will get tangled in the toilet paper.
In addition to the benefits mentioned above, there are a few other potential advantages to hanging the toilet paper roll "under." For example, some people believe that it is easier to load a new roll of toilet paper when the roll is hung "under." Others believe that the "under" position is more comfortable to use, as they do not have to reach as high to get the toilet paper.
Dr. Gilda Carle delved deep into the toilet paper debate. According to her study, those who hang their paper "over" tend to be more dominant, while "under" users are more laid back . Who knew your toilet paper orientation could reveal such personal information about you?
Carle's study found that people who hang their toilet paper "over" are more likely to be type-A personalities, meaning they are ambitious, organized, and driven. They may also be more assertive and take-charge individuals.
On the other hand, people who hang their toilet paper "under" are more likely to be type-B personalities, meaning they are more relaxed, easygoing, and flexible. They may also be more cooperative and team-oriented individuals .
Of course, it's important to note that Carle's study is just one study, and it's impossible to draw definitive conclusions about someone's personality based on how they hang their toilet paper. However, her findings are interesting and suggest that there may be a link between toilet paper orientation and personality traits.
Compromises and Alternatives
In households with divided opinions, harmony is essential. Some opt to tuck the loose end to maintain a neat appearance without committing to either side. Others, seeking to bypass the debate, have considered flushable wipes as an alternative.
Tucking the loose end of the toilet paper is a clever compromise for households with divided opinions. It allows both parties to enjoy the benefits of their preferred orientation, while also maintaining a tidy appearance.
Another option for households with divided opinions is to have two toilet paper holders, one for "over" and one for "under." This allows everyone to use the toilet paper in the way they prefer, without any conflict.
Flushable wipes are popular alternatives to toilet paper, especially for people who prefer a more thorough cleaning. However, it's important to note that most plumbers speak against flushable wipes, as they frequently cause clogs, despite being labeled as “flushable.” Additionally, flushable wipes can release harmful chemicals into the water supply.
A Sustainable Turn to the Debate with Reel Paper
While the toilet paper over or under quandary may continue, what's undeniable is the importance of sustainability. Enter Reel Paper. We offer household paper products such as our 100% premium bamboo toilet paper, recycled paper towels, and recycled facial tissue.
So, while we may never agree on the "right" or "wrong way" to hang our toilet paper, we can certainly agree on the importance of sustainable choices. Perhaps the next great debate will be bamboo vs. recycled toilet paper. Only time will tell!
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- Murphy, Rachel. 2019. “The Inventor of Toilet Paper Rolls Hung Them in the ‘Over’ Position — and a Modern Homemaking Expert Says He Was Right.” Insider. June 14, 2019. https://www.insider.com/toilet-paper-roll-over-or-under-2019-6.
- Rybczynski, Witold. 2007. “Flushed with Pride.” Slate. January 10, 2007. https://slate.com/culture/2007/01/bathrooms-as-status-symbol.html.
- Wikipedia Editors. 2023. “Toilet Paper Orientation.” Wikipedia. September 27, 2023. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toilet_paper_orientation#Public_opinion.
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- Schwartz, Brie. 2019. “The Way You Hang Your Toilet Paper Says a Lot about Your Personality.” Oprah Daily. March 20, 2019. https://www.oprahdaily.com/life/a26885783/toilet-paper-personality/.
- Haden, Jeff. 2018. “Yes, People Who Hang Toilet Paper Rolls This Way Often Do Make More Money.” Inc.com. February 7, 2018. https://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/yes-people-who-hang-toilet-paper-rolls-this-way-often-do-make-more-money.html.