What life hacks I can apply to avoid shortage of toilet paper to avoid surprises?

In other words, how to determine when toilet paper is running low?

Maybe it sounds useless, but imagine if you're living in the big house with big family and many bathrooms, so you need some solution to inform you which toilet is run out of the toilet paper to avoid additional headache.

If there was some perfect way or invention for detecting shortage of the toilet paper, I'm sure it can help over 150k hotels (or around 20 million toilets) around the world. And in the perfect world it can be simplified to the receptionist who could see the red lights (indicating the shortage) and send the house keepers, before the guest would even realise.

  • Two suggestions: 1) always look before sitting down, and 2) use as opportunity to lose weight by eating less :) Can you elaborate further? Why is toilet paper different than any other consumer good in this regard? The same applies to just about everything. Feb 8, 2015 at 0:49
  • What have you attempted to do to keep from running out of toilet paper? Seriously, do you think this is a good question that is actually a problem that needs a hack to solve? Why don't you ask about toilet paper alternatives. That might be actually have some hacks, like my dog on the lawn has discovered.
    – Jon
    Feb 8, 2015 at 0:59
  • Toilet paper is mostly placed on the roll holder, so it gives the advantage for the hacks than any other consumer good. I think it's a good question for life hacking.
    – kenorb
    Feb 8, 2015 at 1:00
  • 2
    You may find this useful ux.stackexchange.com/questions/64666/…
    – Jon
    Feb 8, 2015 at 1:03
  • Posted example answer. This would explain how toilet paper approach could be different than any other consumer good. I'm looking for more ideas, as I'm not good at electronics:)
    – kenorb
    Feb 8, 2015 at 1:17

5 Answers 5


Most people put a spare roll or two in an easily accessible place. What you might do is, always take a roll from that place when needed, and replace the roll there. You should always have paper available that way. This satisfies your question "how to avoid shortage ....".

  • This is the technique I use - one roll placed somewhere easy to access, without leaving the bathroom. When the roll on the holder runs out, you retrieve that roll but MUST replace it with a new one as soon as you leave. I tend to also have a roll hidden elsewhere in the house as the "emergency roll" with the same theory. If you use that, you HAVE to immediately go buy more, no matter what.
    – Jon Story
    Feb 12, 2015 at 0:01
  • There's always the kleenex box, too! Feb 12, 2015 at 1:46
  • by extra rolls.
    – user13723
    Jun 4, 2016 at 6:26

Why not to install an alarm to trigger when the toilet paper is low?

Either by installing color based optics sensors (usually cardboard tubes are brown) by using standalone electronics as below:

free moving gravity-assisted reed triggered by closed contact source

Credits and more info: Arluin

Or by installing weight sensor by using potentiometer which will trigger when your roll is low as shown in the below diagram:

potentiometer diagram Credits and more info: DanJAB

Other solution could include installing the alarm using open-source hardware such as Arduino. For more ideas, please check: How to trigger an alarm when toilet paper is low? at Arduino SE.

See also:


Simple, but less hacky: use less toilet paper. The following video is more a joke than an actual answer, but it shows, that there are people who use only one piece of toilet paper - even after big business.

It's German, but I guess you will understand him based on his gestures. :) https://invidious.silkky.cloud/watch?v=R7PBLfZX8D0
Originally linked YouTube-Video was deleted.

  • Video is blocked, is this one proper alternative? (It explains how to do it, without actual demonstration, dunno what was in the video you posted here) May 6, 2021 at 11:24
  • @ShadowTheVaccinatedWizard Oh no. Yes, your alternative video explains the same approach. I found a version of the original video I posted which was filmed from a TV.
    – Alex
    May 6, 2021 at 11:34
  • Cheers, can you please edit the answer then with what you found? (For the record, I tried once, just for science, to use only one square... and failed miserably. lol) May 6, 2021 at 11:50
  • 1
    Will do, thanks for letting me know. Lol, I've never actually tried it myself. Good luck in the future! :)
    – Alex
    May 6, 2021 at 12:18

Keep an extra roll at every toilet, or several if the use is huge.

Refill the extra rolls on a regular bases, like every day.

Keep your main storage somewhere central, like a pantry or even a dedicated room.

When the central store goes below acceptable, like below two rolls per toilet it is time to order new.

You will have to test what is your acceptable minimum.


Design Hack: Move the toilet tissue dispenser.

Have you noticed that you cannot see the available supply of toilet tissue until you are at the receptacle? This is good for the decor; but, it's poor from a usability/practical point.

Position the dispenser so that it can be seen at a glance before or as you enter the room. It might be placed on the opposite side where it is presently located, for example. Being able to verify your supply this way will save you inconvenience, time, and energy over the long haul.

If you can see the dispenser supply from the doorway, you are more apt and capable of getting an ample supply of tissue before you become… incapacitated.

Psychologically, it is more difficult to delay your relief to re-stock as you get closer to the toilet.

Good luck.

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