The correct way to hang toilet paper, according to science



Hanging it the wrong way can result in absenteeism, worker's comp payments and even business-busting lawsuits.

There are two ways to hang toilet paper: 1) over (with the loose end draped over the top) and 2) under (with the loose end hanging inside next to the wall). Most offices hang it "over" but I've been in many restrooms where it's been hung "under."

The over/under issue is surprisingly controversial and was allegedly the topic that generated the most letters to Dear Abby on a single subject. I'm here today to remove that controversy forever.

According to science, the correct way to hang toilet paper is "over." Why? Because "under" vastly increases the possibility that food-poisoning bacteria will spread from the restroom to the rest of the workplace.

A recent study conducted at the University of Colorado revealed that even an apparently clean office restroom is a dirty Petri dish:

"Using a high-tech genetic sequencing tool, researchers identified 19 groups of bacteria on the doors, floors, faucet handles, soap dispensers, and toilets of 12 public restrooms in Colorado -- six men's restrooms and six women's restrooms. Many of the bacteria strains identified could be transmitted by touching contaminated surfaces."

Much of bacteria found in public restrooms is e. coli from human feces, a common source of food poisoning. E-coli is easily transferred from surfaces to your fingers and thence to anything that you eat with your hands.

Which brings us to hanging toilet paper. The moment when a restroom user's hands are most likely to carry bacteria is when they reach for toilet paper.

If the toilet paper is hung "over" their fingers only touch the toilet paper that they'll be using, which will subsequently be flushed.

Related: Sneaky places germs are hiding

13 PHOTOS
11 Sneaky Places Germs are Hiding in Your Kitchen
See Gallery
11 Sneaky Places Germs are Hiding in Your Kitchen

The kitchen is one of the germiest places in the average home.

Refrigerator Drawers

The produce drawer in your refrigerator can be contaminated with salmonella, listeria, yeast and mold. To clean it, remove the drawer from the fridge and wash it in warm, soapy water.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Kitchen Sink

It’s no secret; lots of germs are washed down the kitchen sink. Make sure the pathogens don’t linger by disinfecting it daily with a solution of bleach and water.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Can Opener

The best way to ensure that salmonella, E.coli, yeast and mold aren’t growing on your can opener is to wash it in the dishwasher after each use. If you don’t have a dishwasher, hand-wash after each use but be sure to pay extra attention to the area around the blade.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Rubber Spatula

Check to see if your spatula can be disassembled. If so, remove the handle and wash both pieces in the dishwasher or by hand to remove any E.coli, yeast or mold that may be present. If the spatula cannot be disassembled, be sure to pay special attention to the area where the two pieces join when washing.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Salt and Pepper Shakers

Because they’re handled so frequently, salt and pepper shakers harbor a tremendous amount of germs. The best way to ensure that your salt and pepper shakers are clean is to periodically wipe them down with disinfecting wipes.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Knife Block

Periodically clean your knife block to prevent yeast and mold from thriving. Remove the knives, turn the knife block over to remove any loose debris, and then clean the knife block in hot soapy water using a small brush in each of the slots.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Rubber-Seal Containers

Reusable containers with a rubber seal can harbor salmonella, yeast, and mold. If the rubber seal is removable, remove it before machine or hand washing. If it’s not, be sure to pay special attention to the area around the seal when hand washing.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Coffee Reservoir

Mold, mildew and bacteria can all be hiding in the reservoir of your coffee maker. Clean your coffee maker according to the manufacturers’ instructions frequently; many also recommend using vinegar.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Blender

The blender is another kitchen gadget that needs to be fully disassembled before washing. Be sure to remove the blade and seal from the jar and base before washing to prevent salmonella, E. coli, yeast and mold from thriving. Be sure to dry each piece thoroughly before reassembling.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Sponges, Rags, and Towels

Your dish sponge, rag and towels all create an ideal environment for pathogens. Be sure to wash and change your rags and towels frequently and microwave your dish sponge for a few seconds after each use to help disinfect and dry it.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Rubber Seal on Your Refrigerator Door

Much like the rubber seal on food storage containers, the seal around the door of your refrigerator or freezer can harbor harmful bacteria. Remember to clean it periodically with soapy water and then dry it thoroughly with a clean towel.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

However, if the toilet paper is hung "under" there's a good chance their fingers will brush the wall as well, leaving a deposit.

If so, every subsequent restroom user who reaches for toilet paper runs the risk of not only of picking up the bacteria that's been deposited already, but also leaving more for the next user to pick up.

Just as important, the "under" hang--and subsequent likelihood of touching the wall--also makes it more difficult to use a scrap of toilet paper to keep from directly touching the toilet seat, flush handle and stall lock without getting bacteria from the wall on your hand.

Once bacteria is on your hand, it's damned difficult to remove. The way most people wash their hands--a couple of seconds with a dab of soap--is useless. To get your hands thoroughly clean, you must scrub with lather for at least 20 seconds, which is roughly the time it takes to sing "happy birthday" twice at normal speed.

If you follow that rule, great, but let it be known you're the minority. Most people do a crappy job at hand-washing and if you're in an office of any size, I can almost guarantee you that some of your coworkers are skipping it entirely.

And then reaching into the box of donuts in the break room.

If you've never had food poisoning, here's what it's like. Imagine the worst flu you've ever experienced (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, etc.) and multiply it times ten. I once had food poisoning with my wife and we were so weak that we were literally unable to get out of bed for 12 hours.

When food poisoning happens at work (and it happens with surprising frequency), it can hit big. In an office in Maitland, Florida, for example, food poisoning struck 55 employees, 25 of which ended up being hospitalized. The likely culprit according to local authorities: "improper hand washing." (Surprise!)

Beyond the obvious productivity hit of dozens of employees out sick, you, as an employer, can be held liable for food poisoning in the workplace. Poisoned employees can apply for worker's comp and, depending on circumstance, can bring a lawsuit against you.

And that's not joke, because while most victims of food poisoning recover within 24 hours, in the worst cases, food poisoning can result in brain damage and even death.

Therefore, if you or your employees are hanging the toilet paper "under," it's fair to say that you're putting not just risking the health of your employees, you're risking the survival of your entire business.

Related: Pinterest-worthy bathroom inspiration

7 PHOTOS
Bathroom inspiration anyone can achieve
See Gallery
Bathroom inspiration anyone can achieve

The Ivy Hill Collection, with its pure white cabinetry, is the ultimate classic. Bathrooms are meant to gleam, and these impeccable units are guaranteed to be timeless.

Get the look: Ivy Hill Collection

BUY IT

This piece is modern, yet sophisticated. It's slim, so it will fit into smaller bathrooms as well, but can absolutely be a part of a larger puzzle to create a gorgeous modern space.

Get the look: Stancliff Collection

BUY IT

The Woodbrook Collection has that beachy vibe that we're obsessed with, but the finish on the wood is also timeless. Pair it with the subway tile backsplash and you instantly add a little metropolitan edge to the room.

Get the look: Woodbrook Collection

BUY IT

With its shelving unit on the bottom and dark stain wood, the Teasian Collection has old-world elegance that will instantly elevate your home.

Get the look: Teasian Collection

BUY IT

We love the Windsor Park Cream Collection because the color goes with any decor theme, and the multiple drawer-storage is perfect for keeping any clutter organized.

Get the look: Windsor Park Cream Collection

We love the overall design of this bathroom because the pops of gray with yellow just feel so fresh, and that's exactly how we'd describe the Windsor Park Gray Collection. It's contemporary gray color will be in style for years to come. 

Get the look: Windsor Park Gray Collection

BUY IT
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Read Full Story

Sign up for the Best Bites by AOL newsletter to get the most delicious recipes and hottest food trends delivered straight to your inbox every day.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.