Over Is Correct

Hanging toilet paper with the loose end rolling over the top is the proper way for several reasons:

  • It’s more aesthetically pleasing. The loose end cascades down gracefully, rather than being smushed against the wall.
  • It’s easier to grab. With the loose end on top, you simply reach up and tear off what you need. Having it under forces you to find the end first before tearing.
  • It reduces waste. Studies show people use less toilet paper when it’s rolled over the top, as it’s easier to tear off just what you need.
  • The patent shows it. The original 1891 toilet paper roller patent clearly shows the paper coming over the top.
  • Most people hang it this way. Surveys consistently find that 70-80% of people hang toilet paper in the “over” position, making it the majority preference.

So from aesthetics to efficiency to historical accuracy, hanging toilet paper over the top is the proper technique. It’s no wonder the majority of people also favor this method.

Under Is Okay Too

While over may be best, under also has some benefits:

  • It’s better for toddlers. Little kids are less likely to unravel the whole roll if the loose end is against the wall.
  • Cats can’t unravel it as easily. Putting the loose end against the wall prevents mischievous cats from spinning the roll.
  • It’s consistent with other rolled products. Paper towels, aluminum foil, and plastic wrap also dispense with the loose end against the surface.
  • Kids can feel independent. Children feel pride in tearing off toilet paper “by themselves” rather than needing help reaching over the top.

So if you have a cat or toddler at home, or simply grew up with under and prefer it, that’s understandable too. The under method works fine, even if it goes against the original patented design.

A Brief History of Toilet Paper Direction

Toilet paper rolls originally debuted in the early 1900s. The first documented debate about over vs under orientation began in the 1920s magazine patents.

In 1935, the company Northern Tissue advertised their rolls as “hung in the proper manner”, with the loose end over the top. Later, toilet paper dispensers were designed to tear over the top.

In the 1990s, writer Ann Landers called for a truce on the neverending toilet paper debate. And in 2015, patent drawings from 1891 showing the over orientation went viral.

While the debate rages on, the original patent and majority of people clearly favor over. But ultimately, use whichever way makes you happy – and avoid judging others!

Frequently Asked Questions

Which way do hotels hang toilet paper?

Hotels typically hang toilet paper with the loose end going over the top of the roll. This follows accepted hospitality industry standards for properly equipped bathrooms.

Does the patent prove which way is right?

The original 1891 toilet paper roller patent drawings clearly show the loose end hung over the top. So while not definitive, the patent provides historical evidence that over is likely the “proper” orientation.

Is one way more sanitary than the other?

There is no evidence that one toilet paper orientation is more sanitary or cleaner. Both provide the same functionality of dispensing paper cleanly and hygienically.

Are there any health advantages to either method?

No health benefits have been found from either toilet paper direction. The minor differences in wrist action to tear off paper are negligible. Just choose what works best for your household!

Does Google have a preference on toilet paper orientation?

In 2019, Google released an Easter egg: if you search “toilet paper” in the Google app, it will show the toilet paper hanging a particular way. Google changes the orientation periodically as a fun nod to this age-old debate.


While many have strong opinions, there is no definitive right or wrong way to hang toilet paper. Both over and under work fine. But the original patent, majority preference, aesthetics, and efficiency favor the loose end rolling over the top. Whichever way you choose, be sure to replace the roll when empty as a courtesy to others. The toilet paper direction debate surely will continue, but being considerate is what really matters most.