Essential Life Lesson #1: Over is Right, Under is Wrong

As part of our ongoing effort here at Current Configuration to make your life not only better, but also 10% more crunchy, we’re offering you this first installment of what will be an ongoing series of Essential Life Lessons. Kicking off this series will be a critical but even-handed examination of a common misunderstanding that occurs in a realm of many misunderstandings: the bathroom.

Put simply, there is a right way to hang the toilet paper, and a wrong way. Read on to determine the status of your own roll.

Toilet paper has a natural curve, a way of being that lends itself to certain orientations on the toilet paper spool.* If handled with skill and knowledge, it can provide an abundance of both sanitation and comfort, quilted together in each square of pillowy ply. If handled with clumsy ignorance, or worse, carelessness, it will beset the user with pain, filth, and frustration. Don’t let it end this way, with you curled on the tile floor of the stall, weeping in frustration, covered in wasted papier de toilette. To convince you, we’ve created some diagrams, harnessing the power of SCIENCE, to demonstrate the natural benefits of the over hanging method. First, we examine the optimal viewing benefits of the over hanging method.

Below are examples of the helpful and fruitful over-hung method on the left and the annoying and detrimental under-hung method on the right.

Right vs. Wrong

Free Sheetage Viewing diagram

Notice the dramatic difference in the amount of visible toilet paper. Ironically, it is the over-hung toilet paper that has both the most visible free sheetage and the least amount of sheetage free from the roll to do it. Now, this may not seem like a big deal on its own, but in these extra sheets lies your undoing. Observe.

Paper Positioning diagram

We here at Current Configuration, for the purposes of ease and expediency, do the one-handed tear (okay, really, it’s just me, but bear with me, er, us). The one-handed tear is a quick maneuver that takes advantage of the perforated squares, allowing your bundle of toilet paper to be liberated with one quick swipe of the arm. This is the foundation of bathroom ease, the cottony bedrock on which enjoyment rests in the restrooms of many nations.

Mechanics of the One-Handed Tear diagram

The one-handed tear relies on a quick and forceful motion directed either away from or towards the tear-er. The forces applied in this motion are great and, like the atom, are not to be trifled with. The natural curve of the over-hung method allows the roll to stand fast after a one-handed tear, but the under-hung method creates a calamitous tendency in the roll. This tendency can only lead to this:

End Result diagram

Wasted paper, frustration, the destruction of our forests. While we realize that it is possible to execute a one-handed tear on an under-hung roll, this is a game of sanitary Russian roulette. You are bound to lose eventually, and there is no re-rolling an unwound toilet paper roll. The results will only cause you grief. Don’t let this happen to you. Restroom attendants, janitors, maids, facilities crews, and responsible toiletowners take note: Don’t use the under-hung method for your toilet paper rolls. It leads to the destruction of our precious resources and the pillars of civilization as we know it!

*Does that thing have a proper name?

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Because you demanded it, we bring you the Overhanging Public Service Hanger Brochure.

Join the Conversation


  1. Hilarious article. Thank you for showing me the science behind toilet paper rolls. (And for the guy who said to pull it diagonally from a ceiling fan, LOL.)

    But to those who are all “OH THE COMMENTS ARE DISGUSTING. OH GO GET A LIFE AND STOP WORRYING ABOUT YOUR TOILET PAPER. EW WHY DON’T YOU WIPE.” I have one thing to say: get a f***ing sense of humor. This whole article is SARCASTIC. The comments are SARCASTIC.

    Jesus, people are stupid.

  2. Hilarious article. Thank you for showing me the science behind toilet paper rolls. (And for the guy who said to pull it diagonally from a ceiling fan, LOL.)

    But to those who are all “OH THE COMMENTS ARE DISGUSTING. OH GO GET A LIFE AND STOP WORRYING ABOUT YOUR TOILET PAPER. EW WHY DON’T YOU WIPE.” I have one thing to say: get a freaking sense of humor. This whole article is SARCASTIC. The comments are SARCASTIC.

    Jesus, people are stupid.

    (Also, sorry if this went through twice. I got an error the first time.)

  3. Tearing from a bottom fed roll allows you to use the side of the roll holder to tear it, stopping the roll from spinning out of control. Doing the one handed tear from the top opens up the gamble of the over roll. I find it funny that the only people affraid of the over roll are the over the top hangers. I never have an over roll problem at my house. Only in other bathrooms where the over the top display is found. I agree with Alli; if you hold the roll with yout elbow you can easily tear from the bottom.

  4. I linked to this on my blog –
    if those supporting the view that under is OK – they had better go around the world convincing the hotels of the west that over is not the only acceptable way…because they all agree that it is.

    they will not change this because “over” is settled and done as clearly the right way.

    simple as.
    end of.
    and other final sounding statements.

  5. This is awesome!!!! This was actually linked to from a forum that we are on, and the over-under debate is raging on!!!! Thanks for the scientific examination of this issue!! btw…..over…ALWAYS!!!!!

  6. ha! thats what i’ve been trying to explain to ppl for years!
    now i’ll just send them this link :)


  7. Besides all the obvious scientific reasons for over hanging the paper. If you ever bought patterned paper you will notice that an under hung roll will be wrong. The design will not show and will be upside down when it does. So there!

  8. All good and well except in one scenario… cats. Over is bad with cats. They will unroll that t.p. in nothing flat. Just something else to consider.

  9. This is so true and yes perhaps I am anal about it, but when I find t.p. the wrong way in someone elses house, I always change it so that it is right. Finally an article to confirm my beliefs….

  10. How many wipes are the correct amount and which direction should be the last…thanks ever so delicately

  11. Nice
    hahaha funny, but belive me, my BF and I disagree on this. I apparently do it the wrong way, but IT IS BC MY CAT KEPT playing with it and UNROLLING IT, so I would change the hanging position, to the considered by this article, the wrong way.
    Stinky boyfriends had to prove me otherwise hahahaha

    loved the article

  12. this entire article fails.

    it in fact, illustrates the opposite of what happens.

    from the tear… the underhung method allows you to quickly tug the roll up and to the side and it will tear easily with the underhung roll providing counter balance.

    apparently this author does not comprehend the concept of momentum.

  13. I think that Frank must have my birthday down pat , since I also have guests that change the way my paper is hung .

  14. I am in full agreement with your conclusion, in theory — but life does not always present one with a utopian sandbox to play in. I have an evil cat who, in the past several months, has completely unrolled two and part of a third. May I suggest a DEFERMENT for households with cats or small children — and design an international icon sticker with the caption, THIS ROLL IS “UNDER” DUE TO EMERGENCY CONDITIONS.

  15. My mom would love this, all you need is a pie chart that shows how much is wasted/saved by each and this might as well have been a formal presentation in my bathrooms as a kid!

  16. For all you “over-the-spool” people… over does seem to have advantages of convenience and tear-ability… BUT, and I mean a BIG butt… um, but, for those people that have housecats, lap dogs and small kids that get into spinning toilet paper rolls… UNDER will ALWAYS win. The T.P. cannot be spun off of the spool as easily if the spool is placed to roll the paper under!

  17. With a semi-recessed concave holder where half of the roll is embedded within the wall, the size of the roll is a limiting factor. When you buy those double and triple size rolls, you have to mount them under. If you mount them over, pulling on the end exerts a downward and inward force at the bottom, adding to gravity and adding compression, which crams the roll into the back of the holder and you wind up with only one square that tears off because the roll cannot turn. Since I’m not Sheryl Crow, that doesn’t work for me. With the paper mounted under, pulling on it exerts an upward and outward force counteracting gravity and compression, allowing the paper to unroll freely so you can get the necessary amount.

  18. The lesson behind the toilet paper is awesome and heart warming. It made me realize ang appreciate simple things that will eventually affect the mother nature. It promotes awareness to all of us.

  19. So obviously NOT written by someone with cats! I did over always, until I had a cat. This was my amazing cat who trained himself to use the toilet. THAT was neat, no more litter box! I think he must have been a “watch and learn” kind of cat. A few months after we noticed him using the toilet, he FILLED the toilet with almost a full roll of TP!! Guess who got to clean THAT toilet and all of the wet, sloppy paper? After that… I became a firm believer in the UNDER mount method, much to the chagrin of my cat!

  20. What I learned here is that we must know the right thing to do to make the result of our life smooth and peaceful because even, toilet paper has something to follow for our own good..and also to have no regrets in the end.

  21. It’s hysterical that people are arguing that the paper should be hung to go over the roll because the toilet paper companies print their designs to be viewed that way. They do that because their market research showed that people use thirty percent MORE when hung from the top. But hey, if you don’t care about wasting TP, if you enjoy paying for more of it, and if you don’t have a cat or small child, knock yourself out.

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