The controversy over whether or not to install a roll of toilet paper over or under has long been the subject of countless articles, polls, studies by major universities, psychologists, psychiatrists and sociologists for decades. It is a subject that has captured endless attention and debate.

Even Advice Columnist Ann Landers said herself that it was the most controversial issue in her column’s 31-year history, and one that garnered the most responses – over 15,000.

So what is it about how people put a roll of toilet paper on a holder that fascinates us so much?

After all, there are only two ways to do it, right?

Although that answer is true, there are more reasons why toilet paper is installed either way, and the effects of each one, rather than the how that fascinates people so much. It might be interesting to note also, that in all the documented studies published, close to seventy-percent of people polled prefer the over method.

Of course, a lot of those studies do not break down statistics categorically, like the type of mounting being used or whether it is in a commercial or a residential environment.

For example, many hotels use the under method, because they can hide the end of the roll behind it after cleaning the room. However, sometimes they will install the roll with the over method so they can fold over the first square to make it appear more fancy and make it easier for the guest to grab the first sheet.

Whatever the reasons for either method, toilet paper mounting policy in most commercial and residential settings is strictly enforced by the toilet paper police.

Here are some of the advantages of each method:

The Over Method

1. The paper is easier to get to and never touches the wall.

2. It is the preferred method by toilet paper manufacturers for displaying patterns.

3. Prevents your fingers and knuckles from scraping against the wall.

4. Prevents the paper from falling behind the roll making it harder to reach.

5. Is more handicap friendly.

6. Is more visually appealing.

The Under Method:

1.The loose end is hidden from view.

2. Prevents cats and small children from tugging at the roll and unraveling it.

Note: One of the biggest reasons why people do not like the under method is because the paper can wind up hanging all the way down the wall and on the floor. This can cause a considerable waste of paper and has a very unsightly appearance.

Most of the studies performed revealed that how a roll of toilet paper in a household is mounted can say a lot about who is in charge in the house.

For instance, in homes where the toilet paper is mounted under, it is usually the woman who is in charge. Since studies show that more women than men prefer the under method, it’s plainly obvious who makes the bathroom rules in those homes.

On a personal note, however, I would like to mention something I have observed that has not been mentioned before in any of the articles or studies I researched for this post. No one had mentioned the variables of cellphone usage in direct correlation to the ease of toilet paper access.

We all know how everyone likes to bring their iPhones and Droids into the bathroom with them, and believe it or not, that can be a factor when you’re sitting on the throne and you have to juggle the phone in your hands to grab some Cottonelle.

For example:

1. If you are right-handed you will probably sit down on the toilet with the phone in your left hand, so you will have to put the phone down to grab toilet paper.

2. If you are left-handed, you will probably have the phone in your right hand, so you can grab some toilet paper without putting the phone down.

That is assuming of course, that the toilet paper is on the left side of the toilet. If it is on the right side, then you have the opposite problem. Bathroom cellphone users should have no problem understanding this.

Location of the toilet paper roll in relation to where the toilet is can also be a factor. Tests show that the further the toilet paper roll hangs from the toilet the harder it is to grab it, if it is hung with the under method. This is because your hand and entire upper body has to lean over further to grab the paper.

There have been so many studies done on the subject of toilet paper mounting that it boggles the mind. Sociologists use it to study the natural habits of people in all races and ethnic groups.

One interesting fact found was that lower-income people all preferred the under method of toilet paper hanging, which researchers couldn’t explain, but said they found it very interesting.

Physicists use it to teach students the mathematical equations of travel and distance and economists use it as an example of how to get more for your wipe.

So what’s your preferred method of hanging toilet paper and why?

It seems like a lot of things to do to and think about – just to grab some toilet paper and wipe your butt…huh?


© Joseph E Rathjen – All Rights Reserved – 2013

Joseph E. Rathjen Is a freelance writer and an Opinion Writer at 1World Online – America’s Fastest Growing Social Research Engine.

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14 thoughts on “The Great Toilet Paper Debate: Over Or Under?

  1. You made me laugh: “Bathroom cellphone users should have no problem understanding this.”. So true. I’m trying not to do this tho, because overall it’s safer, in my case anyways, to not bring my phone anywhere near water.

    To answer your question: I’m a woman and absolutely prefer the ‘over’ method because of two reasons. I’ve always liked it because it seems to me that you use less paper than with the ‘under’ method. We’ve never taken the time to actually try and prove this in my household or anything, but it feels that way. And the second reason is that a couple of years ago I heard an item on the radio about the toilet paper hanging method and some professional said it’s more hygienic to use the ‘over’ method.

  2. That’s hilarious – it seems indeed like “a lot of things to do to and think about…just to grab some toilet paper and wipe your butt”. However I was expecting to get some statistics along with it, as: the percent of divorces caused by the over/under debates. For such a small thing to think about, I think we would be surprised !

    Oh and by the way, I’m extremely tolerant, but come on, everybody knows it’s common sense to set it OVER!

  3. Very interesting! I am an over the roll woman & I’m with an under Man. I guess we are just different. We just compromise & have 1 bath over & 1 under.

  4. Had the discussion many times when I lived on the road – working, first, all of New England and then all of the Rockies. Pretty much unanimous among hotel/motel management to go for over.

    The rolls last longer, at least one less sheet per poop.

  5. The ultimate reason for the over method is, of course, spiders.

    If you mount it over and there happens to be a spider hidden on the other side, you’ll be able to see it coming.

  6. LOL! We actually had a discussion about this at my Aunts house many years ago. Everyone else except my Mom put the toilet paper on with it hanging over. I prefer it over so it would depend on who put the new roll on. We disagreed on loading dishes in dishwasher too so I would load and she would unload.

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