An answer to the TP question?
August 1, 2008 6:50 AM   Subscribe

Is the metal flap on Japanese and European TP dispensers (photo) an indication that they've resolved the seemingly endless debate one hears in America about which orientation of the toilet paper roll (over or under) is better, or correct?
posted by Rash to Grab Bag (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I just thought it was to make it look tidy.
posted by lemonfridge at 6:55 AM on August 1, 2008

My guess is that its purpose is to help one cleanly separate the paper from the roll. When you use it for that, it doesn't make a difference what the orientation of the paper is.
posted by Xurando at 7:01 AM on August 1, 2008

Nope. It just makes the TP roll look tidier and gives perhaps a greater impression of cleanliness -- germs/dust flying around the bathroom have less TP surface access.

(Depends on the angle and height of the TP holder. Over seems neater-looking to me, but sometimes under is better for tearability.)
posted by desuetude at 7:04 AM on August 1, 2008

Oh, this is pretty common in US hotels too.

Also, I have found that the flap is actually terrible as a means to separate the paper from the roll -- it looks like it should help, but it's too blunt.
posted by desuetude at 7:05 AM on August 1, 2008

It's to assist in tearing off sheets. You press down on the toilet paper through the holder, and tear, thus not germing up the clean and unused sheets with your less than hygenic hands.
posted by b33j at 7:17 AM on August 1, 2008

I'd like to make three observations:

1.) Those kind of TP dispensers are also everywhere in Korea.
2.) Over was obviously the correct orientation even before I encountered them.
3.) They're actually great at helping you tear the paper. desuetude, you're doing it wrong!.
posted by no1hatchling at 7:21 AM on August 1, 2008

Mod note: help the OP not get their question deleted and answer the question that was asked, not the one you want to answer, thank you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:42 AM on August 1, 2008

They haven't resolved the question in general, however they have designed a mechanism to assist in making it look tidy/making it look neater/tearing it more easily that does seem easier to use when the roll is oriented outwards/over. This mechanism gives no guidance to which way a toilet roll should be placed when used with no mechanical assistance.
posted by jacalata at 8:30 AM on August 1, 2008

The debate rages on, two camps have formed. Those with cats or toddlers and those without.

In Japan, one of the bars I frequented would hang it as indicated in the photo, and every time someone would finish visiting the toilet one of the bartenders would sneak away to fold the toiler paper end into an esthetically pleasing triangle. This would be impossible with a different type of dispenser. Most of the hotels I visited did the same.
posted by robofunk at 9:30 AM on August 1, 2008

I suppose the triangle also had some function but I was usually too drunk to appreciate any.
posted by robofunk at 9:33 AM on August 1, 2008

The metal flap exerts pressure downwards onto the roll of tp because it is fastened with a spring. This way, you can unroll as much paper as you need by slowly pulling the tp and then tear it off with a quick motion using only one hand; the flap will keep the roll from spinning. Normally the tp is perforated, so you don't need its edge to tear the paper off.
posted by amf at 1:32 PM on August 1, 2008

Response by poster: Most of the flaps I encounter have no spring, but it's intuitive IMO to rest one's left forearm on the flap, while tearing off the paper with the right.

Which leads to more questions.
  • Could users like desuetude possibly be left-handed?
  • Could the whole conflict actually be between the left- and right-handed?
  • Is the metal flap an effective deterent to cats unrolling the roll?
And as I noted in a previous thread, in some circles the folded triangle is called the Sacred Point.
posted by Rash at 4:46 PM on August 1, 2008

I'm not left-handed. I also don't find it intuitive to lean over and rest my left forearm on the roll while tearing with my right, especially when the roll is too low on the wall for this to be accomplished comfortably.

As far as I'm concerned, TP gathering should be a one-handed operation -- if it takes two limbs to properly operate the toilet paper, something is set up wrong. Plus, you need to be holding your skirts up with your other hand. Er, skirts-wearing people do.

Which brings up an added element to your theories -- I note that you are male, and thus are not faced with TP-tearing every time you pee.
posted by desuetude at 6:09 PM on August 1, 2008

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