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Gertie Delves into the Great Toilet Paper Debate

Gertrude Butterbean [©Angela Gillaspie 2001-2012]

Being the self-appointed southern sovereign for the code of behavior in the bathroom, many of y'all have sent me heartfelt requests for help. The issue I'm touching on today has been known to wreck marriages, blow up family reunions, and make Uncle Chester abandon his crapper and head for the outhouse.

My email box has been filled to the brim to resolve this horrible dilemma: What is the right way to hang toilet paper?

As far as myself goes, the placement of toilet paper is a non-issue since I just set the roll on the back of my toilet on top of my Popular Mechanic magazines. If I'm going to have guests that I want to impress (the preacher or my nickel poker buddies), I might slide the roll down on the plunger next to the toilet to give my bathroom that rustic look.

Anyway, back to the question - what's the "right" way to hang the toilet paper? After polling folks on the Internet, up there at Winn Dixie, over at Wal-Mart, and down yunder at the post office, I found out:

Of course this only answers the question about how most folks hang their toilet paper, it doesn't address the question of what the "right" way is to hang it.

Before I answer that question, I'd like to take a minute and look at all the different types of toilet paper holders there are. First off, here in my neck of the woods most folks (unless they live down there in the city) don't have toilet paper holders. It don't bother us none - we just set the roll on top of the tank, on the edge of the garbage can or edge of the sink.

In government buildings, gas stations, and fast food joints they have those institutional holders where the roll slides on sideways. These vertical holders allow for the owners to put them big four-foot spools of sandpaper-type toilet paper on them. When I was pregnant, my husband (God Bless him) offered to get me one of those so I'd only have to change the roll three times a week instead of three times a day. What a man!

Hey, I wonder if them government boys are upset about whether those rolls are hung right or left? Oh, and this reminds me of a law Congress passed a few years ago, the Americans with Disabilities Act which required hand rails to be placed on the walls of all public restroom stalls. Now, because of the hand rails, they have to mount those big old toilet paper holders down real low, right next to the toilet and everyone has to sit kind of sidesaddle and reach down real far to get to the paper. It really gets on my nerves. Of course, I think the government might've commissioned a five-year study to uncover the benefits of left versus right hangin'. I need to contact my congressman and check on it, I reckon.

Anyways back to the kinds of holders, in the newer houses (built in the late 1970's or so), they have regular horizontal holders and here is where y'all start fussin'. With horizontal holders, it starts to stink like the time Aunt Bette stopped up the crapper after she forgot that she took a double dose of castor oil and then ate four plates of beans. Lordy.

Everybody's got an opinion on the pros and cons of hanging the roll "over" versus "under", and here's what I found out:

So the "right" way to hang toilet paper? It depends on what person or critter will be using your toilet and what kind of holder (if any) you got. But, if I just have to choose, then I'll vote for the "over" position.

All this toilet tissue talk has got me to thinking about what I want to get Momma for Christmas this year. She ain't got no toilet paper holder, so I'm gonna install her a nice one. Maybe one of those that have a radio in it so that she can listen to Conway Twitty as she reflects on life's deep meaning. Hey maybe I could find a toilet paper holder with an attached cup holder so that she can sip her sassafras tea and meditate on the throne ... ooh, and a cell phone charger just in case she is going to be there a while and her phone's battery might run out. I definitely will get her a matching magazine holder for all those Guideposts and Enquirer magazines she dearly loves.

Which way would she hang her roll? Why in the "over" position, of course!

My friend Benoit wrote, "The real and practical reason why toilet paper should always be hung "over" is that, when you consider the state of the hands that reach for it, you don't want those hands to come into contact with the wall or the paper holder or whatever surface that is in the back of the hanging paper. This is just another simple way to prevent germ tranmission from one user to the other (and to keep your wall clean). The same goes for tissue paper rolls in kitchens, of course."

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