Toilet Paper, Over or Under?

Image Courtesy of

Andrew Prokop, Managing Editor

Over or Under? No, I am not asking about your bet for this Sundays football game, or the way you bypass the bars at an amusement park when the line is short. Instead, now is the time to explore the age-old debate of which way the toilet paper should be placed when replacing the roll.

We should always start by looking back at history, toilet paper is very simple by design. Easy to manufacture. Easy to use. The only real change to the product has been the addition of layers to create multiple ply toilet paper. That being said the overall structure has remained the same. Simply put, toilet paper is a cardboard tube wrapped with some sort of paper material. This lack of change of the product is beneficial to us because it allows us to look back at the original 1891 patent by Seth Wheeler.

The initial design intended for the product to be placed with the paper coming over the top. This was because of the easier access to the paper from the top on the low mounted toilet paper holder. This also allows for the user to pull the paper away from the wall without needing to contact to the wall for a more sanitary process. This is one of the reasons why generally, the over method is the most commonly used.

The under still has some strong supporters for a very logical reason. The most common being that animals have a harder time accessing the roll to unroll it. For example, when the roll is placed with the paper of the top, most pets swipe from up to down which causes the toilet paper to unravel and get everywhere, this is unlike when the paper comes from the under because, when the pet swipes it just spins around the spindle without unraveling.

Businesses and stores figured out the way to make everyone forget so it does not even matter which way the roll is placed. They put the rolls in a large opaque container, rotate the roll perpendicularly and the user has to pull down, because of all of this you cannot really tell which way is which.

At home or in your apartment this is different, the toilet paper is generally displayed openly to allow for easy access and quick roll replacement as necessary. The paper placement should ultimately fit the user’s lifestyle. The correct way to place the roll is over, but there are certain cases where it makes more sense to have the roll placed with the under method, really each case should be evaluated for the variables in play but always default to the over.