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. Look, Over is obviously right–hotel maids can’t fold the little corners in neatly like they do if the roll is in the under configuration! Sheesh!


  2. “That Thing” is appropriately called a to-do-to-do.

    When allthe paper is gone you hold it to your mouth and make this sound…”TO-DO-TO-DOOOO!!”

  3. Thank you sweet jesus for this. I spent an hour and a half in an enjoyable debate with my BF about why over is the correct, superior way. He completely discounted my scientific evidence. Now I have something to send him to prove I am right!! But more importantly than being right, is having the toilet paper in all the bathrooms put on correctly!

  4. . . Altough I agree with these arguments and have been converting “under-minded people” to our “over way” for years now, I heard some arguments, recently, that are hard to beat. In Brazil, at least, there is the “right side” and the “wrong side” of the paper (because most of them have only one ply) and if you use the “over” configuration, when you roll the toilet paper in your hand, it will have the “hard side” out instead of the soft one (that will be out when you use the “under” configuration).

    . . Personally I always buy the “two plies” at least, so I don’t have this problem (and maybe that’s the reason I never figured it out before), but we have to admit that using the “hard side” instead of the “soft side” is a huge con. But there are other considerations that we need to make. For example: when you roll the paper in your hand with the “under” configuration, the “out” side will be passed on the wall (depending on your holder, of course)–and it doesn’t happen with the “over” way.

    . . If you use the better quality toilet paper it’s a no-brainer, though: over configuration hands down.

  5. As a under the roll user, I see a problem with your explanation. The one-handed tear I use is to the right, not to the left at your example shows. This avoids any problem and there is no waste.

  6. As an under the roll user, I see a problem with your explanation. The one-handed tear I use is to the right, not to the left at your example shows. This avoids any problem and there is no waste.

  7. Under is the only way, after all it is the word under that comes to mind everytime.
    1. You wipe your “under”side with it.
    2. When you flush it goes “under”ground to the pipes
    3. There nevers seems to be enough of it “under” the sink.

    The only over used is that some people just can’t seem to get “over” those of us who like it “under”.

    Me personally I don’t want to see my paper hanging off the front. It also seems to me to make an slready small space seem smaller with the paper hanging farther off of the wall.

    Go Under and get Over it. I love diversity! Smiles to everyone.

  8. Well, if this is correct….someone ought to show it to the military. You could not pass inspection without it going over the back and hanging one sheet low below the roll.

  9. Does the same apply to kitchen roll ? A debate between my wife my mother and I (vacation house) led us to view this essential site. I ‘lost’ since they elected you to subject matter expert status as soon as they read your opinion. Of course kitchen roll is normally viewed from a standing not sitting position, and no one surely has any intention of putting kitchen roll to bathroom uses (though cost per square inch calculation might be interesting). Perhapskitchen roll should have its own mini thesis.

  10. I have to agree with James!

    It’s looks neater tucked away on the ‘backside’ of the roll. (Pun totally intended)

    And I think it’s completely hilarious that there’s actually a forum about how to properly hang your tp, and also that I looked it up to begin with:)

  11. Not to mention, loading “under” risks frequent contact with the wall surface. Germaphobes, beware!


  12. I’ve never given toilet paper that much thought, and hardly noticed the difference. I will pay strict attention to it the next time I’m on the pot.

  13. If you have kids you quicky learn that the under method is far superiour. In the over method: a two-year-old walks into the bathroom, spies a free floating round thing and spins it because… that’s what they do. Result: TP all over the floor and nothing left on the roll. This doesn’t happen with the under method – the roll spins but it doesn’t unravel.

  14. It was butchers who first loaded paper on rolls. The rolls always feed under so the paper hangs down and you can grasp it quickly instead of scratching your nail across the top of the roll, then spinning the roll around if you cannot find the end and just generally frustrating yourself. Somebody HAS instructed all the hotel maids to install TP the wrong way. But notice that hotel maids are mostly immigrants and still have some American cultural norms to learn.

    And Todger: the right way is the right way no matter what kind of roll you are hanging. Let it hang down the back and it will be there for you to grab every time.

  15. its obviously classier and neater to have over rather then under…all hotels are over and so is mine :) that speaks volumes lol

  16. Sorry, but no. Under can be right too. Depending on the holder and position of the holder, it can be very useful to be able to put your hand on the roll to hold it still without actually putting your hand on the sheet you are trying to tear off. This is, of course, possible if the roll is over, but you are guaranteed to only be able to steady the rest of the roll, without holding the sheet you want to tear off, if it is under.

  17. under is the way to go. over the front it wrong.

    Snozz you are wrong and the rest of the misfits who agree with you.

  18. While my son is excited he found this for me, I however love to live life with the suspense of what will happen? I replace the roll paying no attention as to the direction and let the paper fly!!!! Born to be a rebel and proud!!!!!

  19. Ok, to clarify, as I have been teaching this to my roommates for quite some time now. Yes, a male teaching it to females. I also have to explain to them it is unacceptable to leave the new roll on top of the empty one, and that gobs of toothpaste should NEVER be left sitting dry in the sink!

    The correct way is over. Not only for the excellent reasons above, from visibility, tearing being less wasteful, and the point not mentioned of the use of your thumb as the digit that creates the pressure to pull and tear properly without it rolling more after tearing. When you tear from under you have less surface friction to stop more from rolling off than if you tear over. This is a simple physics explanation. As for the defense using the term “under” for proof, I’m sorry, but that’s like me saying eating a belgium waffle makes me more cultured.

    Also, just because the military does it does not make it right. In fact, in what scenario has military action been the best solution to a problem or conflict? Point made.

    As for the cat, under leaves more hanging, as when over, it allows the end square to rest on the top or front face, where in order to see the square from behind it HAS to hang. Cat’s like things that dangle; end of story.

    The point is that there IS NO RIGHT WAY! But there is A BETTER WAY. I’ve yet to hear a “good” argument contesting the scientific and logical reasons. And “you’re wrong, under is better” is NOT and argument.


  20. You see, it’s only those who are so pedantic about this as to be publish this who actually care. The rest of us, not so much…

  21. You left out one important scientific fact, which can be explained by a technical phrase known as the “Arm Distance Problem.” That’s right, arm distance, or distance the arm must travel to reach the desired tissue squares, is perhaps the single-most distressing factor in this debate.

    Why, you ask? The over-hung roll presents itself in a much closer, direct line of access to the acquisitive hand, whereas the under-hung roll is literally several inches farther (measure it yourself, if you don’t believe me!) and at times requires a dexterous hand maneuver around the roll’s bottom and up to the next free tissue square. So you see, from a pure mathematical efficiency perspective, the under-hung roll will always require more effort, which translates out into greater calories expended and time wasted, than the over-hung roll.

    Have you ever witnessed a 3 year-old trying to reach a little are and clumsy hand down to grasp the next available tissue square on an under-hung roll? It’s not a pretty picture, let me tell you that.

    Seriously folks, unless we all convert to the French TP Dispensary Method, which involves a plastic box affixed to the wall allowing individual, meaning separate, sheets of tissue to be pulled a la tissue box, then we really have only one method that makes sense to use: the over-hung method.

  22. Another fine example: Hold a toiletpaperroll in your hand and unwind some from your hand, which way does the paper face? Yes. You’re right. It faces the ‘over’ way. It just comes naturally. This post here is the truth. Accept it.

  23. We couldn’t find somthing more important, like solving world hunger?
    Well here goes-
    Wrong. on so many levels. The under method is the superior method.

    1) Environmentally: Obviously the over method minions have never had a child or cat unspooling an entire roll, the illustration “End result” is both misleading and incorrect, actually the opposite is true, thus the wasteful destruction of forests using the over method. Regarding the illustration “Mechanics of one handed tear”, I must point out that anyone who only uses one or two squares needs a lesson in sanitation. The under method guarantees your guest or children will use the appropriate amount of tissues and will be more sanitary. Also, Kimberly-Clark Corp. has determined that Americans typically use five squares per pull.

    2) Distance: Dave, you do have a good point, however, the arm reach in inches depends on the location of the roller to the proximity of the toilet in both height and distance. A roller to the immediate left of the toilet typically does not require any more reach. In fact, you may need to reach up several inches more to access the top of the roll, since over the top tears generally tear at the top. Check it out.

    3) Sanitation: the under method allows the user not to have to touch the exposed paper on top of the sitting roll. since the under method will always have dangling sanitized squares you can fold the upper exposed paper to the inside, thus creating a clean surface to wipe the toilet seat. The upper method in many cases has no dangling squares, ewh. but if you want to touch it be my guest, just don’t shake my hand. Scott, if your toilet paper is touching the wall it will wipe off germs in either direction. Might want to purchase a different roller.

    4) Military: Jeremy, I guess you would prefer doing the goose step or singing “God praise the Queen”. The military does get the real “crap” right. lol

    5) Asthetics: The under method is the preferred and a superior look, hands down. If you noticed in the upper diagram “Free sheeting viewing” the eyeball notices less unraveled paper. Unless of course you like playing with your toilet paper and creating some kind of decorative fold to lay on the top.

    6) World hunger: I guess if we cannot solve the toilet paper issue then forget about solving world hunger.

  24. I love how everyone is so passionate about this – ask your friends, I bet 95% have an opinion, and one that won’t be easily swayed!! (BTW, I’m an “under”, much tidier visually!)

  25. It’s mind-boggling that there are people in this world who actually prefer the “under” method. Not only does it just LOOK wrong, but it’s very inconvenient. I hate scraping my hand along the wall trying to get paper off the roll. How anyone is comfortable doing that, I don’t know.

  26. I have 2 kids and a cat , but I beilieve that the ‘over’ way is the right one or as Jeremy said above “The point is that there IS NO RIGHT WAY! But there is A BETTER WAY”. I won’t analyze my reasons for that because each person has his or her opinion on the subject.
    What upsets me, is that my 24 year old niece who is staying with me for a month, every time she goes to the toilet, she changes the toilet paper the other way.
    I respect other people’s life style and I will never interfere with it, but she lives in my house and I expect her to respect my life style without the need for me to say so to her.
    Any suggestions on how to deal with her on the subject?

  27. In response to Despina, I too prefer the roll to be “over” and agree with Jeremy’s quote. As far as your neice goes, she needs to be taught some respect when visiting another person’s house. I think you have (or had) every right to say something like, “Are you changing the direction of toilet paper roll every time you use my bathroom? Are you going to move on to rearranging my food pantry? How about my knicknacks or the top of my dresser? Please don’t rearrange the things in my house.” Honestly the rudeness of some people!

  28. ROFLMcleanAO… I grew up with it under and my dear hubby who is known for being ‘right’ says over. Now I say he has no right because he just sets it on top of the old roll for the most part. Oh well all this googling tp ways and blogging is silly but it is keeping me from painting the bathroom which I set out to do only to have my hubby say OUT! I GOTTA GO! …thus started the debate! Married life is bliss even when it smells and you both have your own way of doing things!

  29. No one has mentioned the new “double” rolls. If you mount one of these behemoths in the over method as described above when you pull the sheet the whole roll presses against the back of the dispenser and harder against the dowel. This causes the sheet to rip off within 1 or 2 squares of initial grab point. Frustratingly so. When mounted in the under fashion, the act of pulling actually lifts the roll slightly, thereby reducing it’s friction between the spool and the dowel. Also, it pulls it away from wall/holder nearly eliminating any friction from that source. I will agree the overhung looks aesthetically better and sometimes I switch to over from under after half the roll has been dispensed. Just the view from my seat……. (Ô¿Ô)

  30. So people who by instinct put the TP the “right” way are generous in general, those who put it the “wrong” way are not… start noticing :)


  32. I see all the facts and you almost had me changing my mind but then i scrolled back up and thought “what nonsense” UNDER ALL THE WAY!!

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