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COVID-19 preps: Why are people stocking up on toilet paper?

Have you noticed the toilet paper aisle looking a little sparse? Here's why.

HOUSTON — As COVID-19 continues to spread, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes are increasingly hard to come by, and now there’s another item that’s topping the list: toilet paper.

Sanitizer is easy to understand, but why toilet paper?

The #ToiletPaperApocalypse is trending on Twitter, and it’s turning the stockpiling of toilet paper into the butt of internet jokes.

Stores like Costco have even put limits on how many rolls it’s selling per person and having staff members pass it out.

KHOU 11 mental health and wellness expert Bill Prasad breaks down the psychology.

“This is very much at times a lot about copycat behavior,” Prasad explained. “If you see someone in the store stocking up on toilet paper, you are thinking, ‘OK. I should do that. That seems to be a good idea. I’ll do it.’”

Prasad said it’s also about control.

“Stocking up on things may make you feel better, because you feel like you are taking some kind of action. For some people, just washing their hands they feel like that’s not enough, they have to do more," Prasad said.

The CDC recently said the elderly and those with underlying health conditions should stay close to home and have plenty of their medications, household goods and food on hand.

As for the rest, perhaps it’s best to refrain from wiping the toilet paper aisles clean and just take what you need.

“Stocking up on things may feel good, but it could be harmful also because it could create shortages," Prasad said.

The medical community has recommended that communities should prepare for social distancing which means having a couple weeks’ worth of food and supplies.


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