Why Put a Red Cup/Empty Toilet Roll Under the Toilet Seat

In general, there aren’t any unknown tricks with toilets and they work just fine the way everyone uses them. However, you may have heard about putting an empty toilet roll, or a plastic red cup under the toilet seat. In this article, I will explain why this is done.

As a general rule, it’s a practice sometimes used in public restrooms to let the person know there is no toilet paper. Some people are also of the belief that it will alert you to a snake or small alligator swimming up through the sewer pipe and into the house.

The reason is if a snake or alligator swims up the sewer line and climbs out of the toilet they will knock over the empty toilet roll or plastic cup which will cause a loud bang, and alert anyone in the house. 

Below, I will explain what putting an empty toilet roll or red cup under the toilet seat does, what happens if you flush a toilet with the toilet seat up, and whether putting toilet paper on the toilet seat helps with bacteria.

What an Empty Toilet Roll Under the Toilet Seat Does

empty toilet roll under the toilet seat
Image from Tom Wentling

In general, putting an empty toilet roll under the seat serves no purpose other than those explained above. It could be said that it helps keep mold and mildew from growing on the underside of the toilet. Due to the fact, that it completely airs out and dries the top of the toilet bowl, and the underside of the toilet seat.

However, in general, this area of the toilet doesn’t get overly wet with water. Unless, there is an issue with the way the toilet has been plumbed, and water splashes into this area. However, if this is the case then it’s better to get your toilet fixed. 

Mold will typically grow regardless of whether there is a space in between the toilet and the toilet bowl. Black mold on toilets is particularly difficult to remove. I explained the best method to remove it in this article about black mold on toilets. And in general, it would be easier to leave the toilet seat up. Rather than using an empty toilet roll, or a red cup.

It’s not a common practice used in public restrooms, however, in hindsight it’s a very good idea because it’s easy to not notice if there is any toilet paper or not when going to the bathroom. For a toilet in the home, it can be a good idea to alert the next person that there is no toilet paper. 

But, as a general rule, it’s more courteous to just grab another toilet roll for the next person or yourself if no one uses it between when you need to go again. Rather than leaving them to do it.

It’s unclean to do this as a strategy in the home

red cup under the toilet seat
Image from Quick & Easy Recipes

For a person to use the bathroom after a person has put an empty toilet roll or red cup under the toilet seat they will need to lift up the toilet seat, and take the empty toilet roll or cup out. 

This needs to be done before they disrobe to use the toilet and to stop the bacteria from getting on their clothes they will need to wash their hands afterward.

Therefore, whether you do leave a toilet roll to alert the next person of the issue, or don’t is somewhat the same. And there are pros and cons to doing it and not doing it. For that reason, virtually everyone doesn’t really bother.

Does Putting Toilet Paper on the Seat Help With Bacteria?

Most people shower regularly, and therefore their butt has very little bacteria on it. However, tiny droplets of urine can get on a toilet seat during regular use, and there might be some time between when a person last showered and when they use a toilet. 

One way to reduce bacteria when using a toilet is to put a toilet seat cover or toilet paper on the seat, but does it help with bacteria?

toilet paper on a toilet seat
Image from that’s life!

Overall, putting toilet paper on the seat does help with bacteria according to medical experts. Ideally, a toilet seat cover should be used, but, if there aren’t any placing toilet paper is the next best option. Before putting the toilet paper down on the seat wipe the seat with toilet paper.

The one issue with using this method is that it requires you to flush a lot of toilet paper. Plumbers have stated that flushing too much toilet paper at once can clog the toilet. 

Therefore, as a rule of thumb, after wiping the toilet seat with toilet paper flush it. Then use the toilet. After that, flush the toilet. Then put the toilet paper on the seat into the toilet and flush it.

If you have a pressure-assisted toilet you can likely get away with only flushing the toilet once or twice. The reason is a pressure-assisted toilet provides much more water pressure, it also uses less water. In another article, I explained the pros and cons of pressure-assisted toilets.

What Happens When You Flush the Toilet With the Toilet Seat Up

For males, it’s far easier to lift the toilet seat up. This reduces the risk of getting urine on the toilet seat, which will then need to be cleaned up. It’s common for people to get annoyed and complain when a toilet seat is left up, but what happens if you flush a toilet when the toilet seat is up?

toilet flushes with the toilet seat up
Image from Stain Fighting Community

As a general rule, nothing different happens if you flush the toilet with the toilet seat up or down. Virtually all toilets won’t splash over the bowl unless they are installed incorrectly. It’s considered common courtesy to put the seat down on a toilet after using it.

Putting the toilet seat down, and the lid of the toilet down can slightly reduce the sound a toilet makes when you flush it. Which is a good idea at night time when people are typically asleep. 

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