Among the many products we take for granted on a daily basis, toilet paper is at (or very near) the top of that list. From stopping a bloody nose to squishing unwanted pests to the more obvious applications, the quiet hero plays a vital role in our daily lives. That unassuming nature is exactly why we wanted to shed some light on its usage across the U.S.
We surveyed over 3,000 people to unravel the average American’s toilet paper habits and get to the bottom of how we use it and how much we use it. Based on survey responses, we were able to estimate how much toilet paper is being flushed down the drain by people in every state weekly, monthly, annually, and over the course of a lifetime. We were also able to estimate toilet paper costs over the same time periods.
Toilet Paper Usage in the U.S.
We've rolled out the numbers to reveal just how much toilet paper Americans use, and the results are eye-opening. According to our Ultimate Toilet Paper Survey, the average American uses just under a mile of toilet paper annually. That's enough to stretch the length of 14 football fields!
But that's not all: it turns out Americans use an average of 6.14 inches of toilet paper per hour (roughly the length of a dollar bill), equalling over 370,869 feet over a lifetime. It makes you wonder how much money we're flushing down the toilet! (Not to worry, we'll tackle that shortly).
Could it be that we're a nation of excess when it comes to toilet paper use? Our survey found that 48% of Americans believe they use more toilet paper than they actually need, which is something to consider when you think about how much we’re using.
Which States Use the Most Toilet Paper?
In a country where toilet paper flies off the shelves during times of stress, it’s obvious that Americans see the value in it, but which states are the biggest fans?
Regarding sheer volume, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, and Michigan lead the country in toilet paper usage, with individual residents flushing enough annually to stretch over two-thirds the length of the golden gate bridge.
But residents of Kansas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, and Indiana aren't exactly skimping in the bathroom. On the contrary, residents of these states flush well over a mile of toilet paper annually.
With so much use, costs must be very high too. Have you ever considered how much you'll spend on bathroom tissue over a lifetime? We did, and the results are surprising.
South Carolina takes the throne as our top toilet paper spending state, with residents dishing out an average of $23,151 on it over the course of a lifetime – that's more than the average cost of a kitchen remodel in the U.S.
But they're not alone; Maryland, Virginia, and New York residents also shell out some serious cash, spending more over a lifetime than the cost of a first home down payment to ensure they're never left high and dry in the bathroom. Clearly, these states spare no expense when it comes to toilet paper costs.
The Toilet Paper Habits of Americans
In the eternal debate about over or under toilet paper roll hanging, a resounding 73.4% of Americans stand firmly on the "over" side, opting to position their toilet tissue so the next sheet hangs over the roll. The conventional wisdom behind this method is that the remainder of the roll is protected by the outer sheet – a sound strategy in an environment where sanitary mishaps are all but guaranteed.
When asked about scrunching vs. folding, over one-third of Americans (33.9%) prefer scrunching it up, making it a surprisingly popular technique. Additionally, when it comes to shelling out for plush, premium toilet paper, 53.7% of Americans are more than willing to spend more for those extra plies. After all, who doesn't appreciate a little extra luxury in the loo?
Whether you most appreciate toilet paper for its convenience or versatility, it's undeniable that bathroom tissue is an essential part of American life. From usage habits to roll placement and everything in between, our survey reveals Americans are bound together in unwavering devotion to the humble bathroom staple that's always hanging out in the background, waiting for its moment to shine.
But while toilet paper is a necessity, too much can be a bad thing (as our Mr. Rooter Plumbing service professionals plumbers in the field can attest!). Excessive toilet paper use can lead to clogged pipes and other plumbing issues that disrupt your daily routine and make your bathroom experience less than pleasant.
So, the next time you find yourself facing a plumbing predicament or simply want to prevent one by giving your bathroom the attention it deserves, think of your friends at Mr. Rooter Plumbing – the plumbing and drain cleaning professionals available to help you out of a jam and get your plumbing flowing smoothly again.
To gain insights about American toilet paper use, we surveyed over 3,000 people from 42 U.S. states over a 2-week period in March 2023. We asked respondents how much toilet paper they typically use (in squares) and how often they use it. We also asked about monthly toilet paper spending, whether they position the next available sheet over or under the roll, and more.
Using a 4-inch per-square estimation, we calculated the amount of toilet paper used every week, month, and year in each state per person and overall, basing our assessments on U.S. Census data on residential populations older than five years.