Toilet paper has been a hot commodity during the coronavirus pandemic, and many supermarkets have been out of stock for weeks. There have been creative solutions, and some Ohio restaurants are even selling rolls of toilet paper with takeout meals.
Toilet Paper Hoarding Turns Into a Math Problem
During the toilet paper rush, consumers spent 732 percent more on toilet paper than in previous years. Even now, consumer demand for toilet paper is still up 27 percent.
As a result, most households have a storage problem. Where are they going to put all of the toilet paper they bought?
In turn, this means that during COVID-19, toilet paper has become a math problem:
- How much toilet paper do you need for a two-week quarantine?
- How long will your toilet paper supply last?
- How much toilet paper can you store in your basement?
During this time when toilet paper is a big deal, let’s work through the numbers to figure out exactly how much TP you need and when it’ll return to the supermarket shelves.
How Much Toilet Paper Can Your Basement Hold?
Toilet paper is a bulky item, and you could quickly run out of space in your closets and cabinets. Your basement may be the best toilet paper storage solution, letting you stock up as much as you want.
Let’s find out how much toilet paper can fit in a basement.
To start, let’s consider three different sized basements — 700-sq.ft., 1,200-sq.ft., and 2,000-sq.ft. We’ll assume the basements have eight-foot ceilings, and they’re completely empty. There are no stockpiles of hand sanitizer or appliances like a water heater.
Now let’s consider a single roll of toilet paper. At about 4.5″ across with a 4.5″ diameter, the rectangular cube of storage space needed is 91 cubic inches per roll. The relative scale of one roll of TP to an empty basement means you can store a significant supply.
At one roll high across the basement floor, a small basement can hold 415 rolls. A medium-sized basement can hold 711 rolls, and a large basement can hold 1,185 rolls.
At the maximum capacity of floor-to-ceiling toilet paper, a small basement can hold 8,849 rolls, which is 737 12-packs. The maximum capacity for a medium-sized basement is 15,170 rolls, which is more than 1,000 12-packs. A large basement can hold 25,284 rolls of toilet paper, which is more than 2,000 12-packs.
How Much Toilet Paper Do You Need?
As experts and manufacturers started to release toilet paper usage estimates, we’ve discovered that usage can vary dramatically.
One estimate was put out by the manufacturer of Quilted Northern and Angel Soft. It said that average toilet paper usage at home is three rolls per person per week. During the stay-at-home orders, time spent at home is much higher, and usage is expected to increase by 140 percent compared to typical bathroom conditions.
That calculates to average toilet paper usage of 4.2 rolls per person per week.
Another usage estimate had very different results. Vice ran some numbers using estimates from MIT and the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology. Their calculations were based on an average of 8.6 sheets per use, 1.714 bowel movements per day, and urinating seven times per day. Then they multiplied the numbers, added a little extra supply on top of their baseline, and assumed a 500-sheet roll.
This resulted in toilet paper usage estimates of a little more than one roll per week for women and about one roll every four weeks for men.
Using the manufacturer’s estimates, a two-week quarantine would need nine rolls of toilet paper per person. If you used Vice’s estimates, men would be fine with having just one roll for the quarantine, and women would need a three-roll supply.
One of the best ways to calculate the exact needs for your household is to use a toilet paper calculator. You can enter in the number of people, sheets used per wipe, number of wipes, and sheets per roll. The calculator will do the math for you so you know how much you should keep at home.
How Long Will Your Toilet Paper Supply Last?
If you’ve got a basement full of toilet paper, the next question is how long will it last.
Even for those who use lots of toilet paper in their daily life, a basement supply will still last decades. At 4.2 rolls per week, the nearly 9,000 rolls stored in a small basement would last about 41 years for one person. For a family of four, the toilet paper supply will last 10 years.
A TP supply in a medium-sized basement could last 69 years, and a large basement full could last 116 years.
Now let’s consider how long a basement full of toilet paper would last if the household members were more conservative with their usage. Even with a small basement, you could still be passing down toilet paper to future generations.
A small basement could hold 159 to 698 years worth of toilet paper for one person. For a family of four, that’d be 41 to 174 years worth. In an average-sized basement, one person would have enough toilet paper for 273 to 1,196 years, and a large basement can hold 456 to 1,994 years worth of toilet paper.
What’s the Best Strategy for Storing Toilet Paper in Your Basement?
If you’ve purchased a large supply of toilet paper, the task at hand is to preserve your investment. This means using smart storage strategies.
When it comes to basement storage, moisture is the enemy. Dampness can cause mildew and mold, damaging the items you’re storing while also eroding your home’s foundation and causing air quality problems.
Moisture is especially problematic when storing toilet paper because it’s designed to be absorbent. Even a high-humidity environment like an Ohio summer could cause problems.
Here are the four steps you can take for better toilet paper storage:
- Resolve any basement moisture issues. Even if you’ve been tolerating moisture problems, it is damaging your home’s structure and anything you put in the basement. Fixing water problems with basement waterproofing or installing a sump pump can help you protect your investment and prepare for major storms.
- Fix humidity and dampness problems. You may not see visible water on your basement floor or seeping through the foundation. However, moisture in the air can still cause damage. Damp environments can be a breeding ground for mold and pests. Climate control solutions like a dehumidifier can help protect the health of your home and preserve your toilet paper supply.
- Create a toilet paper storage solution. The cooler temperature of basements can cause condensation, and anything that’s sitting directly on the basement floor can be damaged by moisture. To prevent your toilet paper from being damaged from the ground up, keep your supply elevated from the floor. This could mean stacking your toilet paper on pallets, rows of 2x4s, or using adjustable shelving.
- Add another layer of toilet paper wrapping. Any gaps in the existing plastic wrap can give moisture an easier pathway to damaging your product. The best way to protect your items while in basement storage is with a vacuum sealer, but you can also store your toilet paper in plastic bags or garbage bags. Remember to seal everything up when you’re in a dry environment so you don’t trap moisture inside.
Want to make the most of your basement storage? Find out how basement waterproofing from Ohio Basement Systems can transform and protect your home. Contact us today for a free basement inspection and repair estimate.