How to Open a Toilet Paper Dispenser: 6 Steps

Written by

Paulk Webb


Freddie J. Hagopian

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how to open a toilet paper dispenser

A toilet paper dispenser is an important feature in public restrooms or residential bathrooms. It’s where you store the toilet paper neatly. When it’s time for refills, you’ll need to know how to open a toilet paper dispenser properly.

It’s pretty easy to do when you have the key. You simply have to insert the key like you would in opening a door. The challenge starts when you lose this item.

Keep reading to learn the steps in opening a toilet paper dispenser and what items to use when you lose the key.

Steps in Opening a Toilet Paper Dispenser

Opening a toilet paper dispenser shouldn’t be difficult. Here are the steps in case you want to unlock your toilet paper dispenser and change the rolls.

Step 1: Locate The Lock


The first step in opening a toilet paper dispenser is to figure out the location of the keyhole. The location may vary from one model to another, so observation is key. 

For instance, jumbo toilet paper dispensers have a keyhole usually at the top, while the metal and partition-mounted models have a lock at the front. It’s not unusual to find a button or latch at the base of a commercial toilet paper dispenser.

Tip: When in doubt, check the manufacturer’s manual to determine the exact location of the lock.

Step 2: Open It


Now that you’ve figured out where the lock is located, you can try to open the dispenser. Find out whether the lock is a button, latch, or a slot that needs a key. 

  1. Unlocking the toilet paper holder with a key is easy. Simply turn the key clockwise or the other way around if it doesn’t open. It should take a few turns to unlock the dispenser.
  2. If the dispenser has a button, press it to release the cover and allow access inside.
  3. If the dispenser has a latch, pull it open to pop the hinge and open the cover. A toilet paper dispenser metal version will have the latch located at the front or top.

Step 3: What If You Have No Key?


Losing the key can happen sometimes. If you can’t retrieve the original key of the dispenser, you can find something that will fit into the keyhole, like these items. 

  1. Generic Or Duplicate Key: The best way to replace a lost key is to purchase a duplicate. Match the duplicate key to the manufacturer of your dispenser to ensure a perfect fit to the slot.
  2. Paperclip: If you have the skills, you can use a paperclip to open a lock. Simply straighten the paperclip and insert it into the keyhole. Wiggle it around to hit the pressure plate at the bottom of the lock.
  3. Screwdriver: Another way to unlock a toilet paper dispenser without a key is to locate the screws. Using a screwdriver, loosen the screws to remove the cover. You can also use a small screwdriver to work around the keyhole.

Watch how to open a toilet dispenser with no key in this video.

Step 4: Remove The Cover

Now that you’ve opened the dispenser, you can take the cover out. Removing the cover isn’t as easy as you think. You need to be careful about where to pull it. 

  1. When you’ve unlocked a plastic toilet paper dispenser, you should pull open the cover at the hinge. The hinge is often found at the base of the unit.
  2. A metal dispenser opens to where the latch is located. It pulls down when the latch is at the front and pulls up when the latch is on top.
  3. A partition-mounted dispenser usually opens at the front like a door panel.

Tip: Apply steady, gentle pressure when opening the cover to keep it intact. Hold the cover with a firm grip to avoid dropping it to the ground.

Step 5: Refill Toilet Paper Dispenser


Once you have opened the toilet paper dispenser, you can at least change the toilet paper roll while you’re at it.

  1. Look for the spindles. They’re either removable or fixed into the dispenser.
  2. Remove the empty rolls of toilet paper and dispose of them properly.
  3. Get a fresh roll of toilet paper and insert it into the spindle, leaving one inch of the tissue exposed. Make sure that the tissue unwinds in a clockwise direction.
  4. Feed the loose end of the toilet paper through the opening of the dispenser.

Tip: Wear gloves to prevent contaminating the new rolls with dirt or bacteria from your hands.

Get an idea of how to refill fresh toilet paper in the dispenser here.

Step 6: Return Everything In Place


Once the dispenser is loaded, it’s time to put everything back into place. 

  1. Get the cover that you set aside and put it back into the dispenser. Align the slots to ensure a perfect fit.
  2. Slide the cover in the direction where you can hear a click sound to indicate a secure fit.
  3. Lock the dispenser with the key. If it’s a button, press it gently to close the dispenser. If it’s a latch, gently pull it down carefully.


At this point, you already know how to open a toilet paper dispenser. The steps are easy, especially if you have the key on hand. You can get creative when you lose the key and use common items like a screwdriver or a paperclip.

Once you have the right tool, you can open the dispenser and replace the empty rolls with new ones.

Let us know your experiences in opening a toilet dispenser in the comment section below. If you like this article, don’t hesitate to share it with your friends.

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