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Toilet Paper Crash Mats

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The common bowl toilet with water-filled U-bend, found throughout the world, provides an ideal way to gather and dispose of human waste. Simply put, you expel the waste material into the bowl - whether from a standing or sitting position - and then flush to carry it away into the sewers. Seems simple. However, a fundamental flaw exists in the design for anyone sitting down and electing to defecate - the pool of water at the bottom of the bowl, under the right conditions, can deliver a certain quantity of unwanted feedback. For many seated toilet users, the upshot of this is wet buttocks - an uncomfortable prospect, especially if you've only just sat down with a good book. Keen to avoid such an uncomfortable predicament, many toilet users choose to deploy a 'crash mat' inside the bowl before sitting down.

Basics of the Crash Mat

Fundamentally, a crash mat provides a layer of protection between the toilet user and the water at the bottom of the bowl. Normally, when the average turd strikes the water, the resultant back-splash can rise high enough to spatter or splash the naked buttocks protruding through the toilet seat. The crash mat's purpose is to 'soften the blow' such that no splash occurs, or at least to minimise it1.

Crash Mat Deployment

As the crash mat will ultimately go down the drain with the rest of the waste, the most common material for construction is toilet paper. Occasionally, as outlined below, construction materials may extend to the use of facial tissues. The important consideration when constructing a crash mat is to avoid moistened buttocks without completely blocking the toilet with a combination of toilet paper and human waste. You really, really want to avoid that.

The most common deployment methods are:


The 'Minimalist' crash mat tends to work best when using thicker-ply toilet paper or facial tissues. Simply, take a tissue or three or four sheets of toilet paper and place it on or just above the surface of the water (possible because the toilet paper will tend to stick to the moistened sides of the bowl before it reaches the water level). This method provides a low level of protection, but considerably reduces the danger of blockage. However, any particularly large turd will invariably breach the barrier and render it utterly useless on first impact.

As a result, the minimalist approach best suits a short visit to the toilet.


Best approached after flushing the toilet to ensure optimal moisture levels on the side of the bowl, the 'Asterisk' uses at least four double sheets of toilet roll. You deploy an 'Asterisk' by laying a double sheet horizontally across the bowl, with the ends of the sheets sticking to the moistened bowl. Then lay the next two double sheets in a 'X' shape over this. Finally, place the fourth double sheet vertically across the bowl.

The weave of the 'Asterisk' offers a more robust barrier, and striking through on the first drop will tend to result in the paper wrapping around it and creating a continued barrier to splashing. Male toilet users may want to lay the final front-to-back sheets further to the back so that urination doesn't wreck the carefully crafted structure. Female toilet users may want to experiment with the configuration, but more than likely will go with one of the following deployment methods.

Floating Wad

While the 'Minimalist' seeks to avoid the potential for blockage, the 'Floating Wad' seeks greater protection at greater risk. The 'Wad' involves taking about eight to ten sheets and wrapping them into a loose roll. You could take the string of sheets and wrap them around your hand to get the right kind of configuration. Once wadded, you then place the sheets in the bottom of the bowl, seeking - like the 'Minimalist' - to get the paper to adhere to the bowl walls. The thicker consistency of the wad means that one impact will not immediately rob you of protection, but having this amount of paper in the bowl from the outset could lead to the generation of a potential blockage.

You could use facial tissue instead of toilet paper for the 'Wad', using about four sheets. However, by using large tissues you add to the potential of causing a blockage.

Chaotic Mess

Intended for those who hate splash-back and couldn't care less about blocking the toilet, the 'Chaotic Mess' involves tugging hard on the toilet roll, ripping off whatever length results, loosely bundling the mass in your hands and dropping it into the toilet.

The 'Mess' will certainly stand up to several strikes, by which time the chances of further splashing will have diminished to nothing. Depending on the time spent on the toilet and the amount of human waste produced, the mass may sink into the U-bend and form a plug, making it nigh-on impossible to flush the toilet without filling the toilet bowl almost to the brim. In such circumstances, prepare yourself for some remedial action with a plunger or toilet brush (you could try pouring water into the bowl from a great height to break up some of the blockage, allowing it to slip silently down the tube).

Toilet users use a 'Mess' of paper almost without exception in locations where they have no personal responsibility for the provision or purchase of the toilet rolls. As flushing, more often than not, does not follow in such locations, you can expect to see such a 'Mess' on display in public toilets at train and service stations, in schools and halls of residence, and at the houses of friends and distant relatives.

Crafty Design

The problem of back splash applies to the common bowl toilet with water pooled in the bottom. However, many variants of the common toilet exist, some with designs that make splash-back impossible. In certain circumstances, the shape or depth of the bowl may minimise the splash. In certain European versions of the toilet, the intrusion of a porcelain shelf halfway down the bowl cuts out the issue altogether, while introducing a completely new range of problems!

Environmental Awareness

However you contend with splash-back and the deployment of crash mats, you should always seek to keep usage of toilet paper to a minimum2. In extreme circumstances, strips of newspaper or pages from a book might come under the title of 'recycled paper', especially if you've genuinely run out of toilet paper and no one can render assistance in finding any more3. As outlined elsewhere, the planet gets through tens of millions of rolls per day, so irresponsible crash matting can have an adverse impact on usage levels and our finite planetary resources.

You can, to some measure, minimise the prospect of a splash by positioning yourself further back or leaning forward on the toilet seat, adjusting the trajectory of your effluvium to impact against the back of the bowl. While this can resolve the problem of spray and cuts down on the excessive use of toilet paper, you may leave yourself open to a session of post-flush cleaning with a toilet brush.

1Those suffering from diarrhoea may find that no amount of preparation will prevent the inevitable, and thoroughly unpleasant, splash-back.2And, better still, use recycled toilet paper.3However, this sort of paper may have detrimental and unpredictable effects on your plumbing.

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