I THINK It's Toilet Paper...
February 25, 2015 12:35 PM   Subscribe

What would lead to these very small toilet paper scraps ending up on the bathroom floor?

In my office, there is a men's restroom. In it, there is occasionally a small dusting of what appear to be toilet paper scraps. These scraps are very very small, and are sometimes just large enough to tell that they are twisted. By twisted, I mean that I could see them being created by someone taking a single sheet in their palms and rubbing their palms together until the piece was shredded. Here's a picture.

I have a suspect in mind, but I'm not about to ask my coworker what goes on in there. Still, I'm curious. Is this in fact toilet paper? If not, what is it? (ohgodpleasebetoiletpaper). If so, what possible restroom activity could create this pattern of particles?
posted by papayaninja to Grab Bag (23 answers total)
I think you are massively overthinking this. Some people fidget while in the toilet, others read, some people play on their phones. Somebody is just taking bits of toilet paper and playing with them while sitting.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 12:39 PM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

When you wash your hands and there are no paper towels and you dry your hands with toilet paper instead, bits of it stick to your wet hands. Then you rub your hands together and the bits roll up and fall off.

At least that's a non-awful possibility.
posted by artychoke at 12:41 PM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yeah it's toilet paper. Probably the person who's leaving them is hairy. Soft bath tissue* often tears and rolls up when you wipe, especially if you're hairy.

How it's getting on the floor instead of sticking to him I don't know..? I'm not sure where this piece is in relation to the toilet.. it could be it fell off his butt when he stood up?

(*Angel Soft being a major culprit of this)
posted by royalsong at 12:41 PM on February 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

Could be little lint balls, maybe? I have a cheap pair of trousers with white pocket lining that tends to pill, and sometimes I pick at the pilled fabric if I'm sitting there for a while.

I wouldn't ask about it. Some bathroom mysteries aren't meant to be solved.
posted by mochapickle at 12:43 PM on February 25, 2015

That looks like what gets left behind when I stupidly try to wipe up a spill of water (or child or cat pee) with tp, especially if that liquid is on a piece of clothing. Little crinkly wadded bits everywhere.
posted by tchemgrrl at 12:43 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sometimes people use wadded up toilet paper (when they don't have access to cotton balls) to shoot their heroin. (See the last bulleted item here).
posted by Melismata at 12:43 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Maybe the roll sometimes doesn't quite seat on the holder and the pulling of the paper causes it to rub and shed tiny bits.

Could also be some gross deviant, you know, the kind that stands to wipe (they really exist!) and he's shedding poopy paper when he does his thing.
posted by Sternmeyer at 12:43 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

royalsong has it right. Overly soft toilet paper will sometimes break up a little during use, especially when used less-than-daintily. The little pieces that rub off are then rolled along during the to-ing and fro-ing, causing them to form tiny cigars of toilet paper that may fall to the floor. This is more likely to occur if you're a stander rather than a sitter.
posted by pipeski at 12:54 PM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

You'll see these in women's rooms as well. I will hereby confess, for the very first time in any venue, that I have quite unintentionally created a few of these in my life. There was no wacky or kinky or unsanitary or illegal behavior involved (I promise!!), and let's just say that hair is not a factor.

I think there must be some combination of being a carefree ripper from the roll and a crumpler/stander (vs. you unfathomable godless precisely-square-sheets-only folder/sitter types) whereby a one-ply bit of "edge" paper kind of ends up rolling across the non-primary surface rather than gliding across it, and detaches itself from the main bundle as that tiny rolly bit. He ought to be keeping an eye out and promptly cleaning 'em up, in public AND in private, but I for one say that it's an accidental (and typically very rare) byproduct of totally normal bathroom behavior, and no cause for concern or side-eye.

(But if I'm some kind of monster, somebody shoot me a heads-up, please.)
posted by argonauta at 12:55 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

It could also be that when you pull on the end of the roll, only a tiny piece breaks off. You might roll that between your finger and thumb while cursing the TP gods, then drop it on the floor in preparation to try again to get some G-D- toilet paper from these heathens who always make it too tight or (yegads!) roll backward in order to convince you to make do with less.
posted by CathyG at 1:08 PM on February 25, 2015

Is this one of those public restrooms with those plastic toilet paper dispensers (like this)? I could imagine those little stray bits of toilet paper ending up on the floor as a result of people using the plastic edge to pull off sheets of toilet paper and/or friction from toilet paper roll edges rubbing up against the side of the plastic container.

Alternatively, maybe pieces of toilet paper end up on the floor, then people step on them, and the shoes cause the little bits of broken/knotted up toilet paper to stick to the floor.
posted by litera scripta manet at 1:11 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Some coworkers and I once invented the term dinglescraps for these. They are the result of wiping against hair (stubble, also, is real bad about it), usually with softer TP.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:26 PM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

I had a friend who always had these exact little goofs around on her bathroom floor. She was embarrassed about them I think and once told me that she used toilet paper to blot/rub her face because her skin produced a lot of oil. Pretty straightforward, not weird, and I would personally work on ignoring this kind of thing because what other people do in the bathroom is not your business. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but it's true. Even public bathrooms are places where people deserve privacy, which includes other people not spending much time thinking about what they are up to in there. Heroin? Come on!
posted by sockermom at 1:37 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Office/public restrooms are a mystery. You will drive yourself crazy trying to understand the weirdness that goes on in there.
posted by radioamy at 1:41 PM on February 25, 2015

I find these on the floor of the stall in the men's room at work and they freak me out. I don't think they are naturally occurring. They look to me like someone has deliberately twisted one end for--shudder--insertion into some orifice or other. I should add that in our men's room there are other even more horrendous breaches of bathroom etiquette. Since finding these eldritch horrors, my mind finds no respite.
posted by Kafkaesque at 1:46 PM on February 25, 2015

Response by poster: For spacial context, the large piece in the photo is probably one tile away from the front edge of the toilet, with the bathtub (this is essentially a converted apartment building) at the top of the photo along the left side of the toilet (stage left, if you will).

There seem to be a very large number of the smaller pieces, and the distance is a little too far for me to 100% buy the standing and wiping debris, though the hairy-ness of my suspect is appropriate for this theory.
posted by papayaninja at 1:48 PM on February 25, 2015

Sometimes they fall into one's lowered pants and then get flung/dropped on standing and raising, or moved/blown around when the user walks away.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:05 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Does the bathroom have paper towels or just toilet paper? Someone is wiping something very hard. I mean, maybe it's from going No. 2, or maybe they are wiping their sweaty arm pits or something else you'd rather not imagine. If you have cottony soft toilet paper, it pills a lot easier and may explain it. I personally don't use brands like Charmin or anything "soft" because it causes what I would call "ass lint." Loyal Scott user, here.
posted by AppleTurnover at 2:39 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Distance is irrelevant, small light things that fall on the floor don't always stay exactly where they landed. Those are definitely wiping remnants. TBH, it kinda looks like someone's had a clear-out of their ass crack - does anyone use the bath?

Also, maybe this is just the picture but are some of the fragments a different colour? A lot of the smaller ones look pink
posted by missmagenta at 2:39 PM on February 25, 2015

Sometimes people use wadded up toilet paper (when they don't have access to cotton balls) to shoot their heroin. (See the last bulleted item here).

Except you'd only need to tear off a small corner of a square of TP to make a lentil-sized ball and then you would take your heroin-soaked filter with you. I feel really confident that this is not what's happening here.

I agree that this looks like a length of toilet paper that has been gathered up and wiped hard against something.
posted by Room 641-A at 3:25 PM on February 25, 2015

This is also what you get if you discover, on extracting the contents of a pocket, that you've washed an item of clothing with a tissue still in there. Little shower of tissue debris and one big ball of what once could have been used to blow your nose (or whatever) on.
posted by lokta at 5:18 PM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

What royal song, pipe ski and others said. I just replicated this phenomenon a few minutes ago.
posted by JimN2TAW at 12:34 AM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

I do something like this when a little edge of paper doesn't tear off cleanly, and you get a little dangling bit on the roll. I will mindlessly tear it off and twist it between my fingers, and likely drop it on the floor somewhere when I get distracted by something else.
posted by HFSH at 4:33 AM on February 26, 2015

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