Are you a scruncher or a folder?

A gold toilet roll holder with an unbleached roll

We don’t shy away from the big questions here at Naked Sprout. We’ve tackled the over hanging vs. underhanging toilet paper debate, pondered the benefits of squatting, and today we’re tackling another hot topic; should you scrunch toilet paper, or fold it?  

It might seem trivial, but our personal tissue rituals can shed light on our personalities and priorities, and they could even have implications for the environment. So grab your toilet paper and let’s see what we can make of it! 

Where do our habits come from? 

Before we get into the debate itself, it’s worth considering why we see so much difference in the way that people use the loo. 

Like eating, sleeping, and communicating, going to the toilet is a human universal - everyone does it. And like eating, sleeping, and communicating there’s a training period involved. Infants need to be taught how to dispose of their waste in a way that’s appropriate for the culture they live in. 

Potty training is the time in our lives when we learn independent toilet habits. Most children start potty training at around two years old, and the basic steps - establishing a routine, lots of encouragement, and gradually easy away from nappies - are the same. But when it comes to wiping, there’s no one method. Most children are wiped by parents at first, and pick up the skill with time. Guides to potty training like the one provided by the NHS often don’t even mention wiping at all. 

So it’s no surprise that people pick up different habits when it comes to toilet paper preparation. While some end up scrunchers, others fold, and most of us probably don’t give much thought to it. But what are the differences between scrunched and folded toilet paper, and how do they impact the efficiency of the task at hand? 

scrunched up tissue

The scrunching side

First up, scrunchers! This seems like the more straightforward approach. You tear off a length of toilet paper, scrunch it into a “wodge” or a ball, and you’re ready to go. But is there more to the appeal of this method than simplicity alone? If you search for scruncher perspectives online, you’ll find a few key arguments in favour.   

1. Adaptability: How many sheets do you use when you go to the loo? Who knows! When you’re scrunching you’re less likely to think about it, you just grab “some” toilet paper and get to it. Some will say that this means you’re more likely to waste toilet paper (more on that later) but scrunchers could argue it makes them more adaptable; whether there’s a full roll on the holder, or it’s down to the last couple of sheets, a scruncher might just be able to make it work. 

2. Texture:
If you look at toilet rolls through a microscope you’ll find the scrunching principle at work. Unlike writing paper or printer paper, tissue paper incorporates millions of tiny folds to make a “crepe”, creating a softer and more absorbent surface texture. Scrunching is the same principle, just sized-up. The small, random folds you create mean more surface area, which means a more textured wipe and (some say) a more thorough clean. 
One redditor in a discussion from all the way back in 2018 gave a full description of the principal: “When you fold it you create a smooth surface that has no “grip” to grab the material as you wipe. If you crumble it, you create random folds... this causes crevices, valleys, and other imperfections to grab more material”

3. Relaxation:
Scrunching doesn’t require any particular technique, or really any attention to detail at all. If you’re the type to pile your books in your shelves out of order, and put laundry away without worrying about paying a visit to Mr Iron, scrunching is probably the method for you. 
Unbleached toilet roll on a wooden holder

The folding faction

On the other side of the toilet paper spectrum, we have the folders. Folding is a methodical, precise, some might say more disciplined approach to bathroom hygiene. Here’s a few reasons some among us are so committed to the fold. 

Efficiency: Folding your toilet paper into neat squares can lead to more efficient use. Folders will often tear off a length and use it multiple times, folding as they go, maximising the wipe-per-sheet ratio.. 

Less risky: Folders believe that their standardised layers provide a more reliable surface, allowing wipers to be completely confident in the thickness of the tissue barrier protecting their fingers. Everyone agrees a good solid barrier between the hand and the body is essential when wiping, and folders are convinced their method is the best way to achieve it. As one anonymous reddit debater pointed out: “If you scrunch you can't be sure the paper mass density isn't void of holes, or the dreaded thin spot, where a poke-through could take place.” 

Mindfulness: For those of a more orderly mind, folding can be a satisfying process. If you’re one of those people who actually likes wrapping presents, this is probably the technique you’re drawn to. Scrunchers might find their patience tested, but folding your sheets can help us bring a moment of attention and even mindfulness, to an otherwise routine task. 

using some tissue outside

Environmental impact

Beyond personal preference, there’s also an environmental angle to consider. This is particularly important to us at Naked Sprout - having decided to stock your loo with the UK’s most sustainable toilet roll you probably don’t want to waste it! 

Here most people seem to agree; scrunchers are likely to use more paper due to the random nature of their method. Scrunchers generally don’t pay as much attention to the amount they’re using as folders, and a basic principle of conscious consumption is that we tend to consume less of something when we remain aware of what we’re doing.

So if you’re looking to cut waste, folding might be the better option for you. But everyone, regardless of method, can get the same benefits of mindful usage by just counting out their sheets before tearing them off. And of course opting for recycled or eco-friendly toilet paper, particularly one manufactured without using fossil fuels or bleach, is another great way to minimise the environmental impact of your sheets, however you’re handling them. 

A portaloo in the woods

The bottom line

In conclusion, whether you scrunch or fold, your toilet paper habits are more telling than you might think! Having asked around, we have both scrunchers and folders at Naked Sprout, and little preferences like this can highlight the ways we are different, from the adaptable, easy-going nature of scrunchers to the efficient, methodical mindset of folders. 

And let's not forget the planet. While scrunchers might use a bit more paper, folders tend to be a bit more eco-friendly with their precise usage. But fear not; regardless of your method, you can always be a bathroom hero by using your tissue mindfully, and opting for environmentally friendly sheets in the first place.

So next time you're in the bathroom, take a moment to pay attention to what you’re doing with the tissue, and happy wiping!

Fancy applying your chosen technique to the UK’s most sustainable toilet paper? 

Shop now