5 Unorthodox Toilet Paper Tricks

A roll of toilet paper has taken residency on my desk– in its tenure, I’ve discovered wondrous new uses.

Toilet Paper

For many of us, toilet paper is a singular in purpose, tasked to clean up modest unpleasantries. Though, over the past few months, I have since discovered some interesting—if not unorthodox—uses for this oft-neglected paper product. Turns out it’s more versatile and inexpensive than many its alternatives. To wit:

 

1. Whiteboard eraser 

Toilet paper is far superior to whiteboard erasers:

  1. Toilet paper is a joy to hold. Erasers are not. The soft, round form-factor of a roll trumps its plastic counterparts in feel hands down: it’s soft and plushy, accommodates the shape of your hand, and no matter how hard you press it against the whiteboard to rub out stubborn dry-erase marks, it never makes that scratching sound that plagues traditional plastic erasers when pushed to the limit. In addition, ANY surface of the toilet paper is a working edge, whereas the plastic competitor can only erase effectively in one orientation.
  2. Toilet paper is typically taller, and thus requires fewer strokes. When you’re working in the fast-paced world of whiteboard-enhanced office environments, seconds count. With TP, you’re cleaner… faster.
  3. Toilet paper is far more precise. For small erasures, squares of toilet paper can be manipulated into arbitrarily-small pieces. With plastic erasers, you’re forced to use a corner—and, since companies manufacture them cheaply as possible, they often skimp on the often mission-critical corner erasing material.
  4. Toilet paper cleans with consistent quality. When you’re done erasing with toilet paper, you can remove the dirty layer, instantly yielding a clean eraser—every time. Over time, plastic erasers build up stores of dry-erase material and lose their effectiveness.
  5. Toilet paper is easily replaceable and accessible, available at any local bathroom or water closet. Plastic erasers need be scrounged for, often lurking in the bowels of office supply closets, or purchased from shelves at the rear of local office supply stores. (To boot, in rural environments, the cost of procurement can be costly due to transportation expenses.)
  6. Toilet paper is affordable. High-quality, recyclable toilet paper runs $1.14 a roll when purchased in bulk. Mediocre  whiteboard erasers cost $2.04 in bulk, nearly twice as expensive. Further, my preliminary tests demonstrate that a roll of toilet paper will last longer than one plastic eraser. So, in costs per whiteboards (CPW), toilet paper is far greater than the 2:1 unit cost ratio suggests; In reality, I it’s closer to 3:1.
  7. Toilet paper is environmentally friendly and dissolves in water and are recyclable. Plastic erasers, particularly those made from PVC, are more difficult and costly to recycle.

Lastly, by using TP as whiteboard erasers in an office environment, you’re showing your commitment to a cleaner, healthier environment, and publicly displaying your operational pragmatism in employing a cheaper solution than the norm. 

 

2. Vibration silencer

Office machines, particularly those with fans, tend to develop rattles over time. 

For example, in the NOM offices, we have a standing-unit air conditioner than is dead silent; though, from time-to-time, one of the plastic exterior panels comes a tad loose, creating a rattling sound that is nothing short of infuriating. Though easily rectified with a sharp tap to the side of the unit, many times I’d rather not leave my desk. In these cases, I throw a roll of toilet paper at the problem and the issue is immediately resolved.

To my chagrin, I can think of no other instance where I can utter those words mean them completely, wholly and literally.

 

3. Coffee/Tea Coasters

Despite the best efforts of our favorite baristas and container designers, sometimes coffee cups and tea cups cannot contain the sweet, sweet warmth of our favorite beverage. If a coaster is unavailable, a square of toilet paper suffices just fine. I recommend 2-ply as it tends to be more absorbent than its single-sheet counterparts.

 

4. Mini-spills

In the same vein, office spills tend to be small misplaced splashes, and not floods of biblical proportion. Toilet paper is much more environmentally friendly than paper towels given that each tear uses a smaller piece of paper and that the sheets are smaller to begin with. In the case of larger spills, an entire roll can be used if need be, whereas a full roll of paper towels would be more costly and take up more room on a desk.

 
5. Pencil and Sharp-Object Holder

While pencil cups are preferred, a roll of unused TP can be used as a paper cup: just place the pens and pencils inside of the spindle with the flat side perpendicular to the table. If you run out of room, you can easily shove the sharp ends directly in-between the unused, rolled-up sheets. This is particularly useful for exacto blades missing their plastic caps.

 

As you might have guessed, toilet paper is quickly becoming my new favorite desk accessory. This list is merely the beginning of the uses I have discovered—I will undoubtably find more.

Hands. Touching Hands. Touching Me. Touching You… And the Loo.

If you’re unwilling to put your hands in your mouth, wash your hands before using the bathroom.

I don’t understand it why we, as a culture, prioritize hand washing at the conclusion and not at the beginning of bathroom excursions. The genitals and surrounding areas have to be the cleanest parts of the body. Shower-washed and wrapped in clean cotton for most of the day, it’s a pretty sanitary place. The world at large, not so much.

Paradoxically, we handle our most sensitive bits with our most promiscuous body part: our hands. Hands that have rubbed public railings, opened doors, manhandled money. Hands that have tied shoes, rode the subway, scratched butts. Hands that have touched nearly everything in reach. These hands store all that residue and apply it directly to the most bacteria-friendly area of the body: the crotch.

And yet, we’re trained to wash our hands only after we use the bathroom as a courtesy to the rest of the world. Though the world thanks you, this makes no sense.

So, I’m declaring the Mouth Hand Rule: handle your naughty bits only if you’re comfortable, at that very moment, with putting your hands in your mouth. (For those with special friends, think also about why this is a courteous gesture.)

In general, you’ll fail the test. So, wash your hands, use the toilet. In that order. If applicable, wash your hands again.