How to tell someone stop using so much TP?
May 19, 2007 2:19 PM   Subscribe

How to ask a roommate to use less TP without getting too personal?

Our new roommate, a friend of a friend of a friend, uses a lot of toliet paper. We used to change the roll once every few weeks. Now there are new rolls being used every few days! She buys the cheapest stuff and we like to use the medium range. How can we bring it up to her without seeming like we are questioning her hygene?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (50 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Are you men, by any chance? Women use way more toilet paper than men, pretty much as a rule, because of anatomy and also because of menstruation. There may simply not be anything she can do about it.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:28 PM on May 19, 2007

I think she'll probably be questioning your hygiene, so no worries on that front.

Couch it in terms of the cheap/medium range issue, rather than the amount. Say that you guys like to use the cushy stuff, but don't want her to have to pay extra for it, so why don't we buy our own toilet paper from now on?
posted by chrismear at 2:28 PM on May 19, 2007 [2 favorites]

Give me a break. How much toilet paper a person uses is none of your business. There is no appropriate way to bring it up to her because it's an inappropriate thing to tell her. It's just toilet paper.

Furthermore, if you don't like that she buys the cheaper stuff, then buy your own fancy-quilted-aloe rolls and use them regardless of what kind has been put on the roll. You could even keep your roll in your room and only bring it to the bathroom when YOU need to go, thus ensuring that no one uses too much of your paper.

It's just as much her responsibility to make sure the toilet paper meets the expectations of your delicate tush as it is your responsibility to monitor her TP usage.
posted by tastybrains at 2:37 PM on May 19, 2007 [13 favorites]

find an article about how excess usage of toilet paper is affecting the environment and email it to all your roommates with the suggestiont that maybe the household should try to be conscious of usage.
posted by hermitosis at 2:45 PM on May 19, 2007

Double toilet paper holder. Problem solved.
posted by geoff. at 2:46 PM on May 19, 2007

I go for the "buy your own stash" method. And don't worry about what anyone else uses.
posted by The Deej at 2:47 PM on May 19, 2007

Ditto tastybrains.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:47 PM on May 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

I am betting you're men, too. One roll every few days is absolutely reasonable usage for a woman, especially when others are also using it. Talk to her about getting nicer tp, by all means, but don't tell her she uses too much, because (a) she doesn't and (b) it's none of your business. If it's the expense that bothers you, then go with chrismears suggestion.

And thank your lucky stars this is the only problem you have with your roommate.
posted by joannemerriam at 2:58 PM on May 19, 2007

i really dont want to stray from the question but i havebeen in similar situaions and did the wrong thing. take some advice from someone who has been there:

totally buy your own stash. in casual roomate situations like this, the communal supplies sharing either works naturally or not at all. trying to force a change in any habit - especially something like personal hygene - is just not going to work. i have seen apartment cold wars start over less.

oh, and the jump from mid grade to super deluxe tp? totally worth it.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 2:59 PM on May 19, 2007

Give me a break. How much toilet paper a person uses is none of your business.

Until the toilet clogs from all the extra TP.
posted by phatkitten at 3:00 PM on May 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

Yeah, women use more for anatomical reasons. She could also be the type that lines the seat with toilet paper for hygiene. Buy your own and let her buy her own.

If you're also a girl, then keep in mind that just because you were raised to use toilet paper a certain way doesn't mean other people were. She doesn't have to bend her habits to meet yours.
posted by koshka at 3:02 PM on May 19, 2007

Unless her huge wads of TP are clogging up the plumbing, I cannot imagine why her TP usage should be any of your business.

If it's about money, consider that between her using more but buying cheaper TP, the cost is probably a wash.

(I have to say, housemates who would get nickel and dime over something so trivial are pretty much my idea of hell. I hope you're much nicer to live with in other ways.)
posted by ottereroticist at 3:03 PM on May 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

I've lived in quite a few shared houses and apartments (some all-male), and I've never known toilet rolls to last weeks: a few days is typical.

Mind your own business. And try eating some fibre or something...
posted by TheophileEscargot at 3:05 PM on May 19, 2007 [2 favorites]

I'm a female and I've lived with guys who used too much TP so it's not always a clear cut gender issue. In our case, the surplus of paper was actually causing some problems with our pipes, so I had a short talk about pipes and pretty much left it at that. He still used a lot of paper, but I suspect it was either slightly less or maybe he flushed in-between or something. So, you could blame the pipes, but I wouldn't lie to handle this.

So you have a few problems

1. "how does she use so much paper?!"
answer: it doesn't matter, not your business, who cares?

2. "we buy the good stuff, she doesn't!"
answer: First off, just ask her to buy better stuff. If for some reason that doesn't work, I'd do some sort of group household buying of staple type stuff where everyone chips in and one person [not her?] buys supplies. Buy better paper. Even if you take turns, you'll still have better paper more often.

3. "we lose money on this deal? she uses it all up!"
answer: there are many different minor inequalities in a roomate situation. If she is always a penny pincher in every situation, she may not be a great choice as a long term roommate. Otherwise, try to find something else that is a shared item that she does feel okay paying for [beer/wine? candy? the newspaper] and make it okay in your mind that you lose out in the tp arena but that it evens out in other places.
posted by jessamyn at 3:06 PM on May 19, 2007

Bend the toilet paper roll flatter, so that it's more like this shape: <> than a perfect O. It will roll less easily, taking more effort to use up more toilet paper. This trick is used often in public bathrooms.

And keep your own stash, if you really want a different brand of toilet paper.
posted by hooray at 3:16 PM on May 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

When I was 14, my dad — career military specializing in logistical planning — told me I was using too much toilet paper and handed me a 3 page document with cost analysis and diagrams and illustrations of how TP I should be using (for the record, 3 squares per toilet visit per his specifications). He wasn't joking. It's no small surprise I moved out of there as soon as I was able.

Don't be my dad, the TP tyrant. You'll never live it down.
posted by jamaro at 3:16 PM on May 19, 2007 [20 favorites]

jamaro: Seriously, three squares per visit? For poo? I weep for you.
posted by chrismear at 3:21 PM on May 19, 2007 [4 favorites]

It sounds like she uses a pretty typical amount for a girl. How would this be a question of her hygiene? If anything, she's being extra-clean.

When I had roommates we switched off buying communal paper products, like towels and TP. Maybe you could rotate buying the TP. Otherwise, yeah, just buy your own stash.

However, if you give it time you might adjust to the cheap stuff. When I moved back in with my parents for a summer I was appalled that they used single-ply paper, but after a week or two I barely noticed it. If you're afraid this is a touchy subject, maybe you should wait three weeks and see if it's still a huge deal.
posted by christinetheslp at 3:23 PM on May 19, 2007

You must be guys if you only used one roll every few weeks. That's actually kind of a long time even if you are men.

There is nothing you can do. Believe me, you wouldn't want to live with her if she started using as little toilet paper as you. You might be able to ask her to start buying the cushier paper, but there is no way to ask her to use less without offending her, and there's no way to actually get her to use less at all.

When I was a pre-teen, my dad asked me to cut down on the amount of toilet paper I used, I think because of some problem with the septic tank. I said "OK" and just went on using the exact same amount. I guarantee that's what will happen if you manage to think of a way to bring it up. Let it go.

If, by some crazy chance, you are all women, there may be a way of bringing it up by spreading out the responsibility. Something like "wow, we are using toilet paper really fast, maybe we should all cut down a little, I know I will." Still, though, she will think you're weird, and the change, if there is any, will make only a tiny difference in how often you have to change the roll. These types of private, lifelong habits don't change quickly and don't change at others' request. You'll have to decide if it's worth it. For me, this is one of many things that need to be let go in order to maintain your own sanity in a roommate situation.
posted by lampoil at 3:24 PM on May 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

When I was a pre-teen, my dad asked me to cut down on the amount of toilet paper I used, I think because of some problem with the septic tank. I said "OK" and just went on using the exact same amount. I guarantee that's what will happen if you manage to think of a way to bring it up. Let it go.

Yeah, the last thing I want while doing my business is to feel beholden to someone else for my wiping behavior.
posted by The Deej at 3:27 PM on May 19, 2007

Are you guys all on atkins or something? 1 roll every few weeks?!
She isnt using too much toilet paper - that is to say she's not using an unusually large amount, I'd say you guys are using an unusually small amount? Were you brought up on those dispensers that only let you have 2 sheets per visit or something?
If you're all guys you have to understand that 'normal' women use more loo roll than 'normal' men, its just a fact of life. Another thing to take into account is that if she's used to the cheap stuff she will naturally be in the habit of unrolling more than you would with the better quality stuff. Unless you're obsessive about how much you use its just a habitual thing you do without thinking about it, regardless of the quality of paper
posted by missmagenta at 3:39 PM on May 19, 2007 [2 favorites]

Don't be ass, ok? Tiolet paper is pretty cheap, if you unclench your wallet a crack and shoot out a few more bucks. If you unroll this on your roommate, you can pretty much flush away any chance off smooth relations. After all, being able to ignore certain personal habits is the fiber that binds shared living quarters. So ignore your first thought and go with #2 and just let it go.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:47 PM on May 19, 2007 [19 favorites]

I seriously wonder about your hygiene too; changing the roll every few weeks only leads to thoughts of "what the f...?" in my mind. You can't be using enough, I suspect.

But I'm a girl and changing the roll every couple of days seems ordinary to me. Being a TP-Nazi is not worth the effort. I'd just deal with it.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 3:47 PM on May 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

I agree with pretty much everyone else as to the usage, but I'd also like to add something else. Some people, myself included, much prefer the "cheap" stuff over the froo-froo quited stuff that people try to push. Maybe the roommate feels this way.
posted by bristolcat at 3:58 PM on May 19, 2007 [2 favorites]

I think we've established that her usage is not excessive, when it comes down to her buying the 'cheapest stuff' I think it all really depends on what you call 'cheapest stuff', if she's buying standard 2-ply then it could be through preference - particularly if her need is for surface area rather than thickness.
Really, you have no more right to have your toilet paper preference than she does and the only way to solve it is to take your own.
If she's buying public toilet grade 1-ply then she's probably just being cheap.

Either way, if its that bad that you need to post and ask mefi then you should probably just all buy your own toilet supplies
posted by missmagenta at 4:20 PM on May 19, 2007

Just because Sheryl Crow only uses one square of TP doesn't mean the rest of us can do it too. In fact, I don't want to think too hard about the state of Sheryl Crow's arse because one square just does not do it.
posted by brina at 4:33 PM on May 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

There could also be a perception issue here. If she buys the cheapest stuff, (cost per roll) chances are it's a low-density roll. There is actually less toilet paper on the roll than on more expensive rolls. Hence the cheapness.

If you are just fed up with constantly changing the flimsy rolls, sit down with a calculator and figure out how much the "cheap" toilet paper costs per two-ply square (or for two one-ply squares), and compare to other, more tightly rolled brands. You might be able to establish a household brand that is economical and tightly rolled. In our household toilet paper is something we do on our every-six-weeks grocery shopping extravaganza with a car. We get the store brand on double rolls. Cheap (per square) and the rolls last longer.

Or then again, you might not. Whatever. Decide to live with it or stash the stuff you like. Then move on.
posted by kika at 4:34 PM on May 19, 2007

I had the exact same problem as the OP, but I lived in an apartment with 4 other guys so this is not a strict gender issue. It wasn't a monetary issue at all, it was a combination of "I just finished a #2 and didn't notice that there was no TP left" and "I'm tired of going to the supermarket and having to carry home a giant thing of TP."

So I did what was suggested here, I kept a stash of TP in my closet and every time I had to go I brought a roll in with me. One huge package of the good stuff lasted me quite a while. Just remember to take the roll back out with you when you're finished because whenever I turned my back for a second it seemed like half the roll was gone.
posted by crashlanding at 5:24 PM on May 19, 2007

I don't have any real advice, but I've been in this exact same situation: I was living with two other girls, and the used WAY MORE toilet paper than I did. I never wanted to mention it, and I just bought the cheapest toilet paper whenever it was my turn and stashed my own.
One possibility is that they also stashed THEIR own, but that would only account for one pack, not for all those times that we went through a huge pack of toilet paper in one week.

I use copious amounts of TP myself, so that's why I thought it was absurd that others would use even MORE. What did they do with it all? I thought of two explanations:
-One of my roommates had allergies and apparently blew her nose in the toilet paper as well. I'd often hear her blow her nose in the bathroom, so this made some sense.
-I didn't use a lot of toilet paper at home because I was rarely home. I was away about 12 hours a day, even on weekends, and asleep 7 hours. One of my roommates was at home almost all the time, so clearly she used the bathroom there more often.
posted by easternblot at 5:34 PM on May 19, 2007

Many years ago I had a roommate who used much more toilet paper than any of my other rooms, past or since. We knew because she didn't flush the toilet after she peed, and so you could see that bowl was filled with paper up to and above the water line. Serious toilet paper usage.

My girlfriend and I concluded (and I don't remember how we concluded this) that she used a lot of toilet paper because she had a lot of pubic hair, so she needed to do more drying than any of the other women who either of us had ever lived with before.

So, it may be that your new roommate has lots of bushy pubic hair that gets wet when she pees. I'm not sure if it's appropriate to ask her to use less, if that's how much it takes her to get dry. One approach would be to give her a gift certificate for a Brazilian waxing, to address the issue indirectly, so to speak. But that might also be too personal.
posted by alms at 6:44 PM on May 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

Buy Scott tissue, and try to buy it on sale and/or with coupon when you can get it for about 50-60 cents per roll.

And yes, women use more toilet paper. You do NOT want to know why.
posted by konolia at 7:18 PM on May 19, 2007

One approach would be to give her a gift certificate for a Brazilian waxing, to address the issue indirectly, so to speak. But that might also be too personal.

Can I just blatantly disagree with this tactic (and am hoping that alms was joking.) It is wrong, on more than one level.
posted by Asherah at 7:32 PM on May 19, 2007

Here, try this:

Once my roommate said, "Hey can you buy more expensive toilet paper? I prefer it." I said, "OK."
posted by nev at 7:45 PM on May 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

ONE roll every FEW WEEKS? Tell me you've got a bidet.

We would use at least two rolls of tp a week, though I've never audited it because, you know, it's toilet paper! I don't care that much.

And I also buy recycled cheap tp because I prefer it. The thick cushiony stuff I find kind of weird and unpleasant, but let's all move on.

Otherwise, what Tastybrains said. Use your own stash. Unless there's a plumbing issue, it's the only solution that makes any sense.
posted by jasperella at 8:22 PM on May 19, 2007

Buy your own toilet paper and keep it your room and use it when you need it.
posted by longsleeves at 9:02 PM on May 19, 2007

And yes, women use more toilet paper. You do NOT want to know why.

I'm a woman, and to be completely honest, I'm not quite sure what you mean.
posted by pinky at 10:13 PM on May 19, 2007

I'm a woman, and to be completely honest, I'm not quite sure what you mean.

Well for a start, (most) men dont wipe when they pee. So women have an excuse to use at least twice as much as men. Secondly, how much you need depends on your 'natural wetness', dryness preference, volume of pubic hair and whether or not you use sanitary towels for your period - I think all these things come under the category things men dont want/need to know about female toilet habits.
posted by missmagenta at 10:39 PM on May 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

Also - dont get her a voicher for a brazillian wax - her pubic hair is none of your business!!
posted by missmagenta at 10:40 PM on May 19, 2007

My girlfriend and I concluded (and I don't remember how we concluded this) that she used a lot of toilet paper because she had a lot of pubic hair, so she needed to do more drying than any of the other women who either of us had ever lived with before.

I don't think that's the case. Before about 1985-1990 nobody shaved except at the edges (being completely hairless was considered a sign you were either prepubescent OR that you had crabs and were therefore a slut/whore, so it was not done) , and people seemed to use the same amount they use now.

Some people just use more. Some people like cheaper toilet paper. Some people assume expensive toilet paper is scented or powdered (it used to be), so avoid it.
posted by watsondog at 10:49 PM on May 19, 2007

There are always inequities in roomate situations, the money you save in rent by having roomates usually makes up for it.

I'm a guy, and I use a ton of toilet paper.

I wish more bathrooms had bidets.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:30 PM on May 19, 2007

Some people have this habit of winding the TP on their fingers until they have this big wad of it before they go in for a wipe. I think it is really wasteful myself.. but like the others have said I think it's best to just get your own stash. If they wanna use all that paper, let them pay for it.
posted by sophist at 11:46 PM on May 19, 2007

Alright, I've seen at least 2 posts assuming that women with pubic hair have to wipe extra because of it. WTF? Am I "special" or is it completely abnormal to soak your pubic hair while urinating?

I'm a woman, and to be completely honest, I'm not quite sure what you mean.

Ditto. Pinky was not asking why women might need more TP, she was asking why konolia implied that it was something "you do NOT want to know". It's because women wipe after peeing.

There are plenty of other reasons too. Maybe she has IBS or other gastrointestinal problems that make her have to do #2 more often than you'd consider normal. Maybe she blows her nose with toilet paper (I do it sometimes, it works just as well). Once a month for a few days she might wrap up feminine hygeine products in said toilet paper. Whatever her reasons are, they are none of your business, which is why I stand by my original statement that you should keep your mouth shut.
posted by tastybrains at 11:50 PM on May 19, 2007 [2 favorites]

Um, this must be a post by someone new to the "roommate" regime? Give 'em a break I say to all giving the OP a hard time. And to the OP, tell "them" to get the good stuff. It's yer bums for christ's sake! And let them do what they do. It's TP, darnit!
posted by metasav at 12:17 AM on May 20, 2007

No wonder you Americans can't meet your obligations under the Kyoto agreement. You're destroying whole rainforests with your excessive use of toilet paper.

OP, I suggest you lay in a stock of nice, shiny Izal toilet paper and let your roommate try her hardest to lay waste to that stuff. Not only does it come from a renewable source, it will also act as a behavioural therapy for her toilet-centred OCD.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:38 AM on May 20, 2007

Is she replacing a previous roommate or a new addition to the household? The number of people really makes the biggest difference. For one person, every few days would be insane. If you buy a standard "1000 sheets" roll, and use 10 squares per use (which seems generous), even if they used the toilet 10x per day (which would probably be indicative of a medical problem), one person would change the roll every 10 days. So three people using lots of TP could change it every few days, but I agree that would be an unnecessary amount of use, unless you are talking about smaller rolls, or possibly she is using TP instead of tampons/pads...
posted by mdn at 6:26 AM on May 20, 2007

Dending on the reasons why exactly so much paper is used, I suggest you introduce wetwipes. The cleaning-action of these might reduce the need for normal, dry TP.

Did I just actually think about this question!? :)
posted by Grensgeval at 6:34 AM on May 20, 2007

Buy and install a roll of Cottonelle for Kids. You can always claim it was too cute to pass up.
posted by Joleta at 11:23 AM on May 20, 2007

Yes, like everyone else, I think you're the ones who use an abnormal amount of paper, not her. For what it's worth I used to be a part of buying supplies for a mixed gender summer camp type situation, and our rule for toilet paper was one roll per person per week (not the rule for TP users to follow, our buying rule).
posted by crabintheocean at 11:32 AM on May 20, 2007

I think you should confront your roommate about this issue and question her in detail about her personal habits. She will probably follow that up by moving out, and you can replace her with a roommate who never uses any toilet paper at all!

Seriously. There are worse TP issues than this.
posted by yohko at 11:38 AM on May 20, 2007

No wonder you Americans can't meet your obligations under the Kyoto agreement. You're destroying whole rainforests with your excessive use of toilet paper.

There is no reason to turn this thread into American bashing. Don't Brits wipe their asses too? I mean, God, I hope so.

No one is suggesting that people use MORE toilet paper or even encouraging excessive use of toilet paper or dressing up in rolls of toilet paper so you could be a make-believe mummy. Most adults have the common sense to use as much toilet paper as they need to get clean. Without actually measuring the use of toilet paper being used, it's impossible to tell how hysterical the OP is being - for all we know, OP is, in fact, Sheryl Crow, and more than 3 squares for a bout of the runs is cause for anguish. The point is that toilet time is private time, and it's not OP's business that the new roomie uses more toilet paper and buys the cheap stuff.

Yes, there might be better alternatives for the environment. Maybe a bidet (which I have never once seen in the US) or even recycled toilet paper which you can buy at any supermarket in the "natural goods" section. And these suggestions would be totally awesome if the OP even once referenced a concern for the environment. But he/she/it didn't and it seems like you just took the opportunity so you could bitch about how much you dislike America. Good job.
posted by tastybrains at 4:38 PM on May 20, 2007

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