You’re Hanging Your Toilet Paper Wrong—and Here’s the Patent to Prove It

Over or under? We finally have the answer.

hanging toilet paper over or underInked Pixels/Shutterstock

Over or Under?

It’s an argument every 
persnickety homeowner has had: Should the end of the 
toilet paper hang over the top of the roll or be tucked underneath it? We may finally have an answer, courtesy of an 1891 patent by New York businessman Seth Wheeler. (By the way, we also used science to find out how to make an emergency candle out of toilet paper and a stick of butter.)

Credited by some as America’s founding father of toilet paper, Wheeler patented the first 
perforated wipes in 1871 and launched his Albany Perforated Wrapping Paper Company in ’77, two years before the Scott brothers debuted their blockbuster brand. Wheeler filed dozens of patents until the 1920s, including those for toilet paper crimped into ornamental patterns (we’re perfectly happy with clever these bathroom storage and organization tips, thanks) and disposable “bosom pads” meant to replace expensive corsets. But his greatest invention was the roll-and-handles design in 1891—a now-ubiquitous fixture whose patent illustration solved the “over/under” tissue issue before it even started. Take a look:

over or under toilet paper guidePhoto: Courtesy of Seth Wheeler

The answer, as you can see above, is “over”—no surprise to the estimated 70 percent of wipers who 
already prefer this position, according to cnet.com. Proponents say an “over” roll provides easier access to the free end of the toilet paper and minimizes the risk of knuckle-on-wall germ gathering. (Find out the 7 ways your are probably cleaning your bathroom wrong.)

The vehement 30 percent in the “under” camp counter that their position gives a tidier appearance and makes paper less prone to pet attacks—concerns that Victorian homeowners probably overlooked 
after switching from aloe-infused hemp sheets to Wheeler’s first 
perforated rolls. (Are you in the “under” minority? Don’t miss these other 125 things homeowners need to know.)

Now that you know how to hang your roll, find out these 5 ways you can unclog your toilet without a plunger.

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