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Toilet Paper Secrets Exposed

Here are the results and some of the more "interesting" comments. 86 percent of respondents said they hang the roll with the paper facing to the front; 14 percent hang the roll with the paper to the back. Here's why.

 Read more Oily Rag articles by Frank and Muriel Newman

Living off the smell of an oily rag is not all about counting cents and saving dollars. It’s also about having fun. We thought we would have a bit of fun with readers by asking them to let us know how they hang their toilet roll: with the paper hanging to the front or the back and why! Some may say that’s getting a little up close and personal but not so the oily rag community who have responded in droves. We have received more responses to this survey than any other conducted by the oily rag research department – 1310 responses and there is still time to express your view by visiting

Here are the results and some of the more “interesting” comments. 86 percent of respondents said they hang the roll with the paper facing to the front; 14 percent hang the roll with the paper to the back. Here’s why.

Comments by those who said they hang it to the front included:

  • The most common reason was convenience. It was easier to find the end of the paper, especially in the wee hours of the morning (sorry, bad pun!).
  • The second most common reason was hygiene. No hands touching the wall, many said.
  • Lots said it just looks better.
  • One said because that’s the way the Air Force does it! (Well, that is something most people would not know about our armed services personnel). Others said because that’s how it’s done in motels.
  • Many said because they use less paper if it is to the front, including this comment, “I recently switched to the front when I read that it causes us to use less paper. I am on an economy drive due to being made redundant and unable to find further employment.”
  • One person took a more scientific approach. “If at back it hangs lower causing more torque on the roll and increasing the chance of the roll spinning and extending the paper to the floor.”
  • “Because that way the pattern sits right – if you have patterned stuff.”
  • “Habit. When my daughter came to stay for a few days, she did it the other way round and it upset my balance somewhat, he he he. No, not to the extent of falling off the seat!”
  • Lots of people said because that’s how their mums told them to do it (good to hear people still listen to their mums!).

Those that hang to the back said they did so because:

  • Mums again featured as a reason.
  • Others said it makes it harder for the kids to just grab the end and pull a huge amount off with one tug – and less tempting for the cat and dog to play with the loose paper (which reminds us of Rolly the toilet tissue dog on TV).
  • Because it’s less convenient so you use less!
  • Others said because it looks tidier.

There were other comments that brought a bit of a chuckle.

  • It just annoys me if it rolls from underneath… and everywhere I go I change it if it is like that.  (The toilet paper police!)
  • “When my man visits I squish the roll so that it bumps and he uses less.  He’s a 'bog hog' and can stay in there for hours…” Quite a few people do squash the roll so it flops rather than spins.

It seems paper to the front is the clear winner. Thank you to all those who have taken part in the survey and created a little bit of humour as we go about our oily rag days.

If you have a favourite tip share it with others by visiting the oily rag website or write to Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei. The book Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag by Frank & Muriel Newman is available from all good bookstores or online at

* Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. Readers can submit their oily rag tips on-line at The book is available from bookstores and online at