Ask Maxwell: Which Way Does The Toilet Paper Roll Really Go?

published Nov 15, 2021
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A football referee, UK, 28th November 1967. From the series 'The People We Love to Hate'. (Photo by Mike McKeown/Daily Express/Getty Images)
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My son and I are having an argument over which way the toilet paper roll is supposed to go in the bathroom. He insists there’s a right way, his way. I’ve never heard of this. Please help me clear up this issue with my 13 year-old in-house “legal counsel.”

Credit: Maxwell Ryan
The Winning "Waterfall" Position

Dear Carl,

This is a subject of which I know a great deal about due to a tiff I had with my ex-wife years ago in our own bathroom. I maintained that there was no “correct” position to the toilet paper, and she argued that there absolutely was. In response I took my argument to my website and asked readers to be a neutral panel and tell me what they believed to be the TRUTH in this simple, domestic matter.

I ran a short survey in both 2008 and 2009 and got the same response: overwhelmingly people believed that the “Waterfall” method was absolutely standard, leading to the best positioning and ease of use. It also seemed to look better to people. Then in 2013 when I was doing some advertising pitchman work for Cottonelle, I got to ask them — the pros — what they knew on the subject. They concurred with the “Waterfall.”

So, Carl, it seems that you and I both have lost this argument, but you can take solace in the fact that your son, while legally minded, certainly seems to be an intelligent, precocious boy.

Best, M

Credit: Maxwell Ryan
The Losing "Back Alley" Position

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Maxwell Ryan is a father and was an elementary school teacher in NYC before founding Apartment Therapy. He’d love to answer your question: This piece was created for Cubby, our weekly newsletter for families at home. Want more? Sign up here for a weekly splash of fun and good ideas for families with kids.

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