Over or under? Original patent confirms the ‘correct’ way to hang the toilet roll is OVER – as experts warn hanging paper the other way round can increase your risk of coming into contact with bacteria

  • A survey found that 42 per cent of people are annoyed by ‘wrong way’ toilet roll
  • The original patent shows that the paper should hang over the top of the roll
  • A 2011 study also found 19 types of bacteria in the bathroom and around the roll
  • Experts say having it under increases the chance of you touching a surface 

The original patent for toilet paper confirms that the correct way to hang it is with the paper over the top, as hanging it under ‘increases bacteria risk,’ experts warn. 

Half of people in the UK get annoyed when they see the toilet paper underneath, according to a study for London-based design company Bathroom Origins.

About 300 people were asked about their views on the positioning of the toilet roll, revealing that 42 per cent were annoyed if it was ‘the wrong way’. 

A patent created by the inventor of the toilet roll, Seth Wheeler, granted in 1883, reveals the correct way to hang toilet paper on the holder is over the top. 

The original patent for toilet paper confirms that the correct way to hang it is with the paper over the top, as hanging it under ‘increases bacteria risk,’ experts warn

Half of people in the UK get annoyed when they see the toilet paper underneath, according to a study for London-based design company Bathroom Origins

Families, friends, housemates and colleagues have long argued over which direction the paper should flow over one of Wheeler’s rolls, with 45 to 52 year olds the most upset if it isn’t replaced on the holder the way they would expect. 

A study in 2011 by the University of Colorado found 19 different types of bacteria on a range of surfaces in bathrooms, including the toilet roll holder and nearby walls.

Experts say when the roll is on the back of the bar so the paper hangs under, the risk of touching the wall around it to grab the paper, and the related bacteria, increases.

Of the 42 per cent concerned about the direction the paper is placed, 52 per cent were women, and 48 per cent were men. 

People have been using paper for cleaning themselves since 6th century China, with mass production of paper for that purpose beginning in the 14th century, but it was more than another 400 years until Wheeler came upon the idea of putting on a roll. 

Sofia Charalambous, co-founder at Bathroom Origins, said when you place the paper so it comes out under the roll it is normally closer to the wall.

This leads to increased risk of it coming into contact with bacteria and droplets, including from viruses like Covid-19, on the wall surface behind it. 

‘If you are unfortunate enough to go to the toilet after someone who has covid-19 and the toilet roll is under, not over, you are increasing your chances of coming into contact with the virus,’ said Charalambous.

‘There is also a reason why toilet roll bars that have flaps on have the flaps going over, not under.’

About 300 people were asked about their views on the positioning of the toilet roll, revealing that 42 per cent were annoyed if it was ‘the wrong way’

The subject of which way the toilet roll should hang has been a light-hearted debate amongst couples and friends for many years, but it now holds a deeper meaning since the pandemic struck, with the virus able to live on surfaces for up to 72 hours. 

There are plenty of debates and polls online arguing which way is right. Typically, those who believe under is correct say that it looks more aesthetic and is also more environmentally friendly.  

They believe that putting the toilet roll under results in you using less toilet paper as the paper doesn’t roll as easily. 

In the original patent drawings, a roll of perforated toilet paper can be seen on a holder, with the paper over the top of the roll. 

So it seems over wins when it comes to the official patent and cleanliness. 

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