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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Toilet Paper Culture: Germans Fold, Americans Crumple

I have a question for you: when you go to wipe after using the toilet, do you fold or crumple the toilet paper?

I know this is a strange question. Heck, you may have never even thought about it before. However, when watching TV with the German boyfriend recently, a show mentioned that different cultures have different methods for using toilet paper. In particular, they said that Germans fold and Americans crumple.

Toilet paper: Germans fold, Americans crumple

After hearing this, Marco immediately turned to me and asked (with a grimace on his face), "You crumple the toilet paper?!"

"Yeah..." I replied, "Wait, you fold it?"

"Of course!"

Then we both sat quietly in a moment of confusion as we realized that we had both discovered something new about each other that we probably would have otherwise never learned if it had not been for a random news segment on TV...

German bathroom
Where the magic happens in our apartment...

Since that day, I have tried to do some research on the topic, but most of the articles available on the Internet are quite biased and varied in their results. I have no idea where the TV program got their information from.

Yet, even some of these unscientific polls and discussions online do follow the hypothesis that Germans fold and Americans crumple. I actually found one hilarious forum where the Germans were calling anyone that folds their toilet paper a barbarian, and the Americans were replying that folding simply takes too much time.

During my research, I also found this Mental Floss article that says the major argument for folding is that you can refold and reuse the same set of toilet paper sheets. Germans do tend to be more concerned with the environment than Americans, so this could certainly be a potential explanation. Although, the German boyfriend claims he does not refold.

Overall, I would say that this is a field where proper research is lacking (I wonder why...). So, I would love for you all to answer the following question in the comments below:

Do you fold or crumple your toilet paper? 

Also make sure to write what country you are from!

I know you may think it's gross, but I am genuinely curious.


  1. Fold, then crumple. I'm from America.

  2. I'm American and I crumple!

    I've actually had this discussion with people before - among other Americans and it ended up being a mixed bag of crumples and folds. So I don't know if it's a generalization or not...

  3. I really with I knew where this TV show got their information from! I would imagine that some kind of poll was done at some point... Maybe I need to search for it in German. But anyways, I am sure the percentage is pretty even, but crumplers are probably in the majority in the U.S.

  4. Fold then crumple is a new one that I didn't consider before...

  5. This topic has definitely come up in my family - one of our stranger conversations. My German husband folds, I (American) bunch, and my American dad wraps the paper around his hand, or at least used to - there's another new one for you! I've said the German folding habit fits right in with "Ordnung muss sein!" We haven't heard from any Brits or Canadians yet - wonder what they do!? :-)

    On a related note, in Brazil, which I found out months after a confusing experience with an exchange student, they put the used TP into the garbage can because their pipes are too narrow to transport wads of paper (folded or not) to the sewer.

  6. I must say, wrapping it around the hand sounds like the most inefficient and wasteful method. Although, maybe it rotates it and re-wipes? Maybe I am painting too vivid a picture.

    Getting used to throwing TP in the garbage can would be weird, but I suppose it makes sense. Better than risking plumping issues...

  7. I am German and I fold.
    The American bf crumples - we seem to live the stereotype ;)

  8. Awesome :) I was wondering if it was just due to our genders that my bf and I fit the stereotype, but you guys seem to show that it's not!

  9. haha I love reading your blog :) Reminds me so much of when I lived in Germany :)

  10. I'm German, I'm a girl and I fold - proudly.
    Nice observation, though. Somebody should definitely write a thesis on that one. You know, get this baby some scientific legs.

  11. We have another German folder! Perfect :)

    And I will keep the topic in mind for when I am looking for a topics for my Master's thesis next year...

  12. It's me again. I asked my partner (a German) whether he folds or crumples. He stared at me and replied in utter shock 'Are there people out there who do NOT fold? What else do they do?' He really couldn't believe it. Then, he added that crumpling would be much too wasteful to even consider it. So, we're on the same page there.
    And you know what happened? We just watched a stand-up comedy show called 'Live at the Apollo' when the second comedian on stage started talking about folding and crumpling toilet paper. (Seems the Britons fold, as well.) What are the chances?
    I never once even though of this issue before, and twice in one day I stumble across it. Guess you can call that a classic instance of the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon (in case you haven't heard of it before, look it up. It's an actual thing.)
    Next thing I did, was to google 'folding toilet paper vs. crumpling'. Turns out, neither are we the only ones, nor the first ones to mull over this.
    One thing I read, which we haven't taken into account here yet, is whether folding or crumpling ultimately depends on the quality of your toilet paper.
    I finish with this food for thought. :-)

  13. When people talk about cultural assimilation, I am not exactly sure that this is what they mean, but good for you! Hhahaha :D

    By the way, I never plan on changing my crumpling ways!

  14. I fold but don't refold. That'd be gross

  15. BTW, I'm American 😊

  16. Folding definitely seems to be more popular among the men.

  17. I never even thought about others until I read this. I'm American and I fold but don't know how I started that way if so many here crumble

  18. Maybe we all need to ask our parents what they do. Is it something you teach children, or is it just a habit that one develops on their own?

  19. I wish I could but think everyone should just to make sure. Lol


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