Loo Academy

Red Cup or Paper Roll Under the Toilet Seat [Explained]

You may have seen several online ads that promise to reveal an amazing life hack about using a paper roll under the toilet seat.

One of these images even used a red plastic cup instead. Was there a massive reveal?

No, and here’s why.

red plastic cups

Red Cup Under The Toilet Seat

While you may find a toilet paper roll an obvious choice to use in the bathroom, a red plastic cup is somewhat strange.

Why a red cup?

The image of a red plastic cup was originally created as an ad image that worked as clickbait to draw readers into a near endless slideshow of strange and not-all-that useful life hacks.

In the end, there is no reveal about what you’re supposed to do with a red plastic cup and a toilet seat.

Why Do You Put an Empty Toilet Paper Roll Under the Toilet Seat at Night?

If you’re looking for a scientific study or reason for leaving an empty toilet paper roll propped up under the toilet seat at night, you will be left disappointed.

Whether this is some obscure modern custom like throwing salt over your shoulder is also unclear, yet stories of paper rolls under toilet seats have taken on a life of their own on the internet.

Are there any legitimate reasons?

To Warn of a Lack of Toilet Paper

Possibly a good reason to leave an empty toilet roll under the toilet seat may be to warn the next toilet user that there is no more toilet paper.

To use the toilet, the user would have to remove the empty roll, which would then create a mental association between an empty paper roll and the fact that there’s no paper.

For Hygiene

In public toilets, using an empty toilet roll to prop up the toilet seat so you don’t have to touch the seat when raising or lowering it can also be a good idea.

Yet, science hints that this is even more unsanitary than lifting the toilet seat by hand.

When a toilet flushes, it splashes germs around. An impermeable toilet seat won’t absorb nearly as much germs as a porous bit of cardboard or toilet paper will.

Warning System

If you live in Florida, you may already be familiar with the strange practice of placing a toilet roll or plastic cup under the toilet seat to warn you when an unwelcome house guest such as an alligator or snake has found its way up the sewage system and is crawling up your toilet and into your home.

The critter will dislodge the toilet paper roll, sending the seat crashing down to wake the house.

To Measure Urine Excretion 

Those who suffer from a heart condition or have diabetes may need to measure just how much they urinate during the night or day, so placing a plastic cup under the seat could be a reminder to measure their urine and not simply relieve themselves.

To Potty Train a Child

Ever tried to teach young boys to lift the toilet seat before relieving themselves?

It is a nightmare.

Using a paper roll under the seat makes it impossible for the young child to sit or aim for the toilet bowl when urinating.

This means the child will have to remove the plastic cup or paper roll, which will remind them to lift the seat before urinating.

Recommended Read: How to Protect a Bathroom Floor from Urine Splashbacks

To Wake Up Sleepwalking Family Members

While it may seem a really odd thing to do, some people do have the tendency to sleepwalk.

Although it is rare, they may also sleep-urinate and even sleep-poo. These individuals have no control over their actions, and only loud sounds can wake them.

The sleepwalker will dislodge the toilet roll that’s been placed under the toilet seat when they try to sit. With the loud bang, the sleepwalker will wake up, thus not soiling themselves.

Inform Public Cleaning Staff

If you are using a public restroom, you may place a paper roll under the toilet seat to warn the cleaning staff that there is no more paper.

You could also use this as a means to warn them their toilet is not in order and needs a plumber’s attention.

What about silly reasons? 

Some Reddit users suggested it may be a prank to leave the toilet seat up slightly by placing a paper roll under the seat as your sleepy family members who head to the loo for a late night download may get the fright of their life when the seat crashes down.

Mandy Phillips

As a frequent contributor to top US magazines and publications in the home improvement niche, Mandy has been known for sharing her expertise on how to clean, organize, and decorate bathrooms.

Additionally, Mandy has immense experience offering lifestyle tips and tricks to her readers.

About Loo Academy

At Loo Academy, our mission is to offer trusted advice for everything related to bathrooms (design ideas, plumbing advice, showering & bathing tips, remodeling guides, and more) — a place where we all spend a great deal of time.

We work closely with qualified experts and follow a thorough editing and fact-checking process before publishing content.

Published content is regularly fact-checked and revised so that the information we provide is accurate and up-to-date.

Legal Info

Loo Academy is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate Loo Academy is compensated for referring traffic to Amazon.com.

The information contained in this website is provided for informational purposes only.

The inclusion of links from this site does not imply endorsement or support of any of the linked information, services, products, or providers.