If Only All Wars Were Made of Toilet Paper: War of Wills, War of Cultures… or BOTH?

Before I begin, let me just say that last week was a difficult one for my entire family.  

I think we (or at least I) could use a little comic relief.  

Taking a little break from the big issues in life is at times a necessary blessing.  

If only all wars were made of toilet paper…

Seems like an ordinary roll of toilet paper, but beware of its consequences! Photo/Graphics by Bellanda ®

Seems like an ordinary roll of toilet paper, but beware of its consequences!
Photo/Graphics by Bellanda ®

It seems like an ordinary roll of toilet paper, right?  Who would have thought that a simple roll of toilet paper could start what I am calling the Silent Toilet Paper War?  I can almost see some of you shaking your heads as you wonder if I’ve either lost my mind or run out of ideas for my blog.  You might even be thinking that it must be sheer desperation that has driven me to write about such a subject.  On the contrary, those of you who follow my blog know that I had planned to write about my favorite place to buy and drink coffee in Paris.  So, why toilet paper?  Let’s just say that it’s amazing what can arise from a simple one week visit from my dear sweet French man’s parents.  Sorry, but the coffee post will just have to wait!

Toilet paper…  When you hear those words I’m sure there are many things that come to mind of which we truly do not need to talk about.  As long as I’ve had it when it was needed, I never gave it much thought.  Then came an eye-opening visit from my in-laws which led me to realize something that I’m not proud of.  Apparently, I can be quite petty when it comes to the direction a toilet paper roll is placed on the holder.  Ah, yes! Did some of you just have a moment of recognition?  Disbelief?  Either way, I have a feeling that many of you know exactly what I’m talking about.

On the first day my in-laws were with us, I walked into the bathroom and immediately noticed that the roll of toilet paper was facing in the wrong direction.  Yes, I am seriously that obsessive. Who knew?!  Instinctively, I switched it back to what I consider to be the correct  way to hang toilet paper.  I figured that one of my children must have knocked it on the floor by accident and placed it back on the holder in the wrong direction.  Then, it happened again… and again.  I kept this whole thing to myself, but out of curiosity switched the toilet paper back each time I saw it in the wrong direction.

My Way!

My Way! (Over Orientation)

I decided to do a little investigating (I know, I need to get out more).  This probably sounds crazy and perhaps it truly is, but I just had to know who was doing this.  I found myself sneaking around, checking the bathroom each time someone walked out.  It turned out that it was my Mother-in-Law AND Father-in-Law!  They actually took the time to change the direction of the toilet paper roll each time they went into the bathroom!  I mean really, who does that?  Oh right, my in-laws… but why?  I don’t know about you, but I have never thought of switching the toilet paper roll direction when I am a guest at someone else’s house and would appreciate it if you are a future guest at my home that you leave my toilet paper the way I like it.  😉

The first time you notice that the toilet paper is in the wrong direction, you say to yourself that it must have been an accident.   The second time, you start to wonder.  The third time, you start to wonder if they are doing this just to annoy you.  The fourth time you are sure they are!  No one spoke of the subject, yet each time I switched the roll to my way, they switched it back to their way.  Thus began, what I’m going to call the Toilet Paper Experiment and the Silent Toilet Paper War.

Yes, I am indeed aware that perhaps I need to get a life but let’s just say I did all of this under the realm of  cultural research.  At least, that is what I’m telling myself. I continued doing this in secret for the entire week they stayed with us.  I was afraid if I mentioned it to anyone it would taint my experiment and ruin the outcome.  I actually giggled as I went in and out of the bathroom in disbelief.  I wanted so much to share what was happening with my dear sweet man, but I stuck to my original plan.  I kept wondering if my in-laws would eventually stop switching the toilet paper roll.  I was sure that they would… but this is what I would see every single day, several times a day, for the entire week!

Their Way!

Their Way! (Under Orientation)

Was this some Machiavellian way to get even with me for taking their son away ?

During the week, I began asking myself some truly ridiculous questions.  Is there even a correct way to place toilet paper on the holder?  Is it just an acquired behavioral pattern?  Is it just another one of those cultural issues that pops up from time to time as a result of being an expat?  Do people even care which way the paper is placed on the holder?

Then, I did what pretty much everyone else does when they want to know something, I Googled the words “correct way to place toilet paper on the holder” only to discover that despite this being a truly petty subject matter… there is actually a Silent and Not So Silent War going on when it concerns this topic.  Apparently, there have been a ridiculous numbers of studies actually done on this subject.  I smiled, feeling somewhat vindicated that somehow I was not as crazy as I thought.  If scientists, philosophers and doctors have researched this subject, then I can assume I’m in good company (or at least in crazy company).

The wealth of information is actually quite hilarious and even links toilet paper orientation to  personality traits, age, political affiliation, and of course cultural differences.  One can’t help but laugh, but apparently it is also a pet peeve that causes actual fights in some relationships.  According to Wikipedia,  Ann Landers said that this subject was the most controversial issue in her column’s history.

What struck me time and time again while going through the mass of information on the internet concerning this topic were the recurring polls and studies that showed that most Americans use the over orientation, as I do, while most Europeans use the under orientation like my in-laws.  Somehow, I was relieved that my in-laws weren’t trying to make me crazy or get even with me for some unknown reason.  I felt better in thinking that toilet paper orientation is just a cultural thing. That is, until I saw this…

You just can't make this kind of thing up... life is so full of surprises!

You just can’t make this kind of thing up… Life is much more fun than fiction!

War of Wills, War of Cultures… or BOTH?  I’ll let you be your own judge.  I’m going to pretend (or lie to myself) that it’s just another Expat cultural thing and that my dear man’s parents were just too preoccupied with packing their bags to replace the roll of toilet paper.   If I allow myself to think this was done on purpose, I might also discover that I have a little vengeful, yet playful, side of me that will have to spend my next visit to their home changing the toilet paper in all of the bathrooms… for the entire duration of my trip!  😀

If only all wars were made of toilet paper…

We could just flush them down the toilet.

Have some fun & see where you fit in.  Here’s the Wikipedia link if you are curious to know what your toilet paper orientation says about you:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toilet_paper_orientation

Here’s a post that nearly made me fall on the floor laughing:  http://currentconfig.com/2005/02/22/essential-life-lesson-1-over-is-right-under-is-wrong  The author included sketches and clearly stated reasons as to why the way I orient my toilet paper is the correct way.  In all fairness to under orientation people, they updated their post to include some reasons why some people prefer this approach.

Now the BIG questions…

Have some fun and let yourself think about something truly ridiculous for a moment. 

Do you care which way the toilet paper is placed on the holder?  

If so, which way is your ‘correct’ way?  

What country are you from?

*Oh, and feel free to leave a fake name if you would rather not let people all over the world know you’re actually discussing toilet paper orientation…  🙂


THIS ARTICLE & TOILET PAPER PATENT JUST ABOUT SETTLES THE TOILET PAPER ORIENTATION DEBATE… I WIN –  HAHAHA! Just in time… They are due for another visit in about 10 days & this might come in handy.  😉

124-year-old patent solves the ‘over versus under’ toilet paper roll debate

Spotted by The Huffington Post, writer Owen Williams discovered a picture of the original patent and shared it with the world.


23 thoughts on “If Only All Wars Were Made of Toilet Paper: War of Wills, War of Cultures… or BOTH?

  1. You did it again, you made me laugh. As you yourself said this week was tough, your blog was just what we needed. or should I say at least one of the things we need. you always entertain, from serious to down right laugh out loud. Thanks


  2. Yes, I’ve noticed this in France as well!

    I’m from Canada and I like to place my toilet paper roll “my way”. My husband’s French family places it “their way”.

    My brother-in-law has an American girlfriend who stayed with my in-laws for 6 months. You wouldn’t believe the toilet paper roll fights that broke out. I’d be watching TV and all of a sudden my sister-in-law would burst in the room and exclaim, “She did again, she turned it around!” This tug-of-war went on for weeks.

    I kind of agree with my in-laws in this particular case because my in-laws have a container that holds the roll. I’m sure you’ve seen this “container” in other French homes? “Their way” makes sense because there would be too much pressure on the paper if it was inserted “my way” as the slit where the paper comes out is low so if you pulled on the paper it might break as the paper sits high on the roll in “my way”.

    Otherwise, if there is no container, I agree, “my way” is the way to go! The paper is closer to you and with “their way” you would touch the wall. “My way” seems cleaner to me.

    Either way, when I go to someone’s house, I don’t care. You are entitled to go which ever “way” you want in your own home. I would be annoyed if my in-laws changed the paper in my house. I am so glad to have such a great mother-in-law – she’s so afraid to touch anything when she comes over and always asks permission.

    I can’t believe I wrote a comment about toilet paper!


    • Thank you so much for playing the toilet paper game! You are definitely a good sport and not only do I appreciate the fact that you took the time to write… your story made me laugh! I love it! heheheh 🙂

      As for your Mother-in-law, she is welcome in my home anytime! Mine practically takes over… kitchen included! Maybe I need to be meaner or something? lol

      Oh and I have to admit… I can’t believe I wrote a blog post on this subject, either! 🙂


  3. Bellanda, I know your post came out last week but just got around to reading it today. It made my day and gave me a good laugh this afternoon! LOL! I actually happen to be one of those people who do the under orientation. Now, I will tell you why. As you know (or may not know), I am very practical in the things that I do personally and professionally. I do the under because some time ago, I read a book that says, do the under orientation on the toilet paper. The author states this because it will not cause the person to roll out more toilet paper than they need or in the case of young children, they will not joyfully just pull and see how much toilet paper will come off the roll. Since I read about this a few years back, I have always put the roll in the under orientation way.


    • Thank you for playing the game, Libby! You are a doll! Yes, during my research I had read that the under orientation keeps little ones from wasting too much toilet paper and keeps it from rolling on the floor. I never had this problem with the over orientation with my kids, but it makes sense.

      I can’t believe we are all talking about toilet paper, but hey… a little break from all of the serious issues in the world was definitely in order. 😉

      Thank you again for sharing your thoughts.
      Best wishes…


  4. I always use over orientation as well; switching the roll around if my mom places it the wrong way.
    At the Chef’s, the holder is a vertical one, next to the sink. So there, it’s sideways over orientation 🙂

    Today was absolutely awful at work. Had some overtime last month, and today was a 7 hour work day for me. Luckily, cause I messed up twice!
    This was the perfect read to unwind and bring a smile to my face! I’m glad you decided to write about toilet paper.


    • Thank you, Estrella. Sorry about your difficult work week, and am happy this silly blog topic gave you a little escape & put a smile on your face.

      Thank you for playing along with the toilet paper game. Sometimes silly is just what we need before jumping back into the real world.
      Best wishes to you! 🙂


  5. This could be an undercurrent of the global shift in consciousness, from a tribal mentality to an intelligent aware – in the now consciousness of being. Perhaps symptomatic of mass psychosis as humanity evolves to higher consciousness implying we are not fully conscious or we wouldn’t even care about toilet paper orientation, and focus our attention on saving the planet. Perhaps you’ve uncovered an archaeological cultural ‘burp’, which somehow got lost as we are evolving. As for my personal opinion, and toilet paper is very personal, this is a most delightful post. Ironically I too am going through life changing events, which has me in a fit most days, and this post actually produced enough dopamine in my brain and induced a state of bliss. Thanks for the laugh.Cheers Michael


    • What a wonderful surprise, Michael! Thank you for taking part in my ‘Toilet Paper Game’ and for taking things to a new level of consciousness.

      I am honored to have you here and to know that this post is responsible for inducing a state of bliss and a laugh. Sometimes it’s vital to step back from things and focus on something that takes us away to a ‘good place’ so that we can better handle the rough patches when they arrive.

      I’m thrilled to have you here with me on my blogging journey.

      Best wishes, Michael.


  6. Nice reading about you

    Thanks for visiting my blog. Be in touch. Browse through the category sections, I feel you may find something of your interest.


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