During the coronavirus crisis, toilet paper has become one of the most valuable household commodities. In the four weeks between February 28 and March 21, Americans spent more than $1.4 billion on TP.
Known as the new white gold, consumers have bought out everything from one-ply to three-ply, and the organic stuff too. Manufacturers are scrambling to keep up with the demand.
Whether you’ve been panic buying or cursing the hoarders, toilet paper has been a big issue during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. For those who stocked up, find out how much toilet paper you can store in your basement, how long it can last you, and how to protect your toilet paper stockpile.
How Much Toilet Paper Can Your Basement Hold?
When growing your stockpile of toilet paper, there are some logistics involved because TP is a bulky item.
You can only keep a limited number of rolls in cabinets and closets. For a real storage solution, basements or garages can hold a significant supply.
How much toilet paper can fit in your basement? We did the math so you don’t have to.
Based on our measurements, a single roll of toilet paper is 4.5″ wide and has a 4.5″ diameter. That means that the rectangular cube of storage space needed for one roll is 91 in3.
To consider the amount of space in a basement, we looked at three different sized houses: a small basement that’s 700 sq. ft, an average-sized basement that’s 1,200 sq. ft., and a large basement that’s 2,000 sq. ft.
For the sake of argument, we’re going to assume the basement has eight-foot ceilings and is completely empty. There aren’t any appliances like a water heater or stockpiles of soup cans and hand sanitizer.
It turns out that you can store more toilet paper in a basement than you’d expect.
At one roll high across the floor, a 700-sq.ft. basement can hold 415 rolls. That’s 35 12-packs. At maximum capacity stacked to the ceiling, the small basement could hold 8,849 rolls, which is 737 12-packs.
Scaling up to a 1,200 sq. ft. basement, the maximum capacity for toilet paper is 15,170 rolls, which is more than 1,000 12-packs.
For a large basement that’s 2,000 sq. ft., you can hold 25,284 rolls of toilet paper, which is more than 2,000 12-packs. That’d be a serious coronavirus stockpile!
How Much Toilet Paper Do You Need For a Two-Week Quarantine?
How long your supply of toilet paper will last depends on your usage, habits and diet. Usage also depends on how much water you drink, and there are even different toilet paper usage estimates for men and women.
To understand the scope of the issue, we’ll look at two estimates, one low and one high. However, an interactive toilet paper calculator can help you to match your household’s usage to your supply.
First is an estimate from Vice. They ran the numbers on average toilet paper usage using data from MIT and the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology. Their calculations are based on averages of 8.6 sheets of paper per toilet use. Their wipes per day are based on 1.714 daily bowel movements, and urinating seven times per day.
After adding a little extra supply on top of their baseline, their usage numbers were 17.2 sheets of toilet paper per day for men and 76.2 sheets per day for women. Based on a 500-sheet roll, that would be about one roll every four weeks for men and a little more than a roll per week for women.
For a two-week quarantine using these calculations, men would be fine with having just one roll, and women would have enough if they had a three-roll supply.
Other toilet paper usage estimates are much higher. The manufacturer of Quilted Northern and Angel Soft shared with Today that average usage is three rolls per person per week.
Those estimates are for a typical week, though. During the stay-at-home orders of COVID-19, the manufacturer estimates a 140 percent increase in home usage as compared to typical bathroom conditions. That comes out to 4.2 rolls per person per week.
Based on these estimates, for a two-week quarantine, you should have nine rolls of toilet paper for each person in the household.
How Long Will Your Toilet Paper Supply Last?
These toilet paper usage estimates don’t even begin to get into the math challenges of shopping for paper goods. As JJ Hodge breaks down when he went shopping for paper towels and toilet paper, the math can get strange.
Despite the shady marketing math on the packages, we’ll stick with the assumption of 500 sheets per toilet paper roll. Using the usage estimates from above, we’re able to calculate exactly how long a basement full of toilet paper will last.
For those who use more toilet paper, a basement’s supply will last decades. At 4.2 rolls per week, a small basement supply would last 41 years for one person, or 10 years for a family of four. An average-sized basement could hold enough toilet paper for 69 years, and a large basement could hold a 116-year supply.
On the other hand, your toilet paper supply could last for generations with low usage. A small basement can hold 159 to 698 years of toilet paper for one person. For a family of four, that would be a supply of 40 to 174 years, and you’d be passing down the legacy stockpile to your kids and grandkids.
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.
How To Keep Toilet Paper Dry While in Basement Storage?
For anyone who has stocked up on toilet paper and dry goods during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to protect your supply to make it last.
Moisture is the enemy. Having a safe and dry basement is important for many reasons, including the storage of TP and other items. Nobody wants to use toilet paper that’s mildewed or musty, obviously. Here are the four steps to protecting your toilet paper supply.
- First address basement moisture.
Depending on your home’s structure, you may need some degree of basement waterproofing. Troubleshoot your basement’s needs to decide if you could benefit from an interior moisture barrier, a painted-on sealant, or exterior drainage. A climate-controlled storage is your best bet. If you’re planning for long-term storage to keep your toilet paper supply for generations (or even one year), installing a sump pump is also a good idea. A big storm can cause moisture to seep into your basement, and a sump pump can help you quickly and automatically get the water out.
- Next address your basement’s humidity and dampness.
Humidity can be especially damaging to toilet paper because it’s designed to be absorbent. Unlike visible basement moisture, humidity in the air can work silently over time to damage your toilet paper supply, just as it can damage your home’s structure.
Dehumidifiers are especially helpful in humid climates like coastal Virginia or the south, and the most basic dehumidifiers are very affordable. It’s usually worth it to upgrade to a more advanced model that’s able to pull even more moisture out of the air.
Many also have automatic draining systems that will pump the collected water into a drain, rather than requiring that you regularly empty the dehumidifier.
- Now address your toilet paper storage method.
If you have an unfinished basement that has cement or tile floor, it’s a good idea to keep your toilet paper elevated so that air circulates below your supply. If it sits directly on a cold floor, condensation can collect on the bottom and ruin your product from the ground up.
Shelving units are an easy solution, and adjustable shelves can help you maximize storage space based on your roll sizes. Warehouses commonly use wooden pallets to keep paper goods from sitting directly on the floor. This is an easy solution that you can use in your own basement. However, if you don’t have access to pallets because you’re quarantined at home, it’s easy to DIY by putting down rows of 2x4s on which you can stack your toilet paper supply.
- Let’s also talk about toilet paper wrapping.
Even though your jumbo packs of TP come in their own plastic wrapping, adding another layer of plastic can give you added protection against moisture.
If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, plastic bags or garbage bags are an easy storage solution to remedy any holes in the existing packaging and seal your packs of TP. In a dry environment when you’re sure you won’t trap moisture inside the plastic, put your toilet paper inside the bags and knot tightly so they’re air-tight.
Learn about other types of basement issues and find out how JES can help you make the most of your basement storage. If you notice any of these problems in your basement, contact us today for a free inspection and estimate, and we can help you create a safe and dry home and storage space.