A worker guides toilet paper on a conveyor belt at the Tissue Plus factory, Wednesday, March 18, 2020, in Bangor, Maine. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

How much toilet paper does your family need to keep on hand? A new online calculator developed over the summer is helping people determine exactly that.

The calculator was designed to help people avoid the panic shopping and subsequent toilet paper shortages that followed stay at home orders issued last March at the start of the pandemic.

The online calculator How Much Toilet Paper Do I Need was created by software developer Ben Sassoon and artist Sam Harris, both of the United Kingdom. According to the pair’s website, to date it’s been used by more than 12 million people around the world. It can be a game changer when it comes to the temptation to h oard toilet paper.

It comes down to simple math and knowing your daily bathroom routines. To use the calculator’s basic function you fill in how many rolls of toilet paper you currently have on hand and how many times you use the toilet every day. According to the calculator, one person who has 10 rolls of toilet paper is all set for 53 days.

Using the advanced settings on the calculator, you can factor in the average number of wipes per trip to the bathroom, sheets used per wipe, sheets on the roll and the total number of people in the household.

Using all those variables to see how long a closet-full of stocked toilet paper will last is not only informative, it’s somewhat entertaining.

It’s always a good idea to have some extra food and supplies on hand in case of storms, power outages or disruptions to the supply chain. This winter there are the added variables associated with the ongoing pandemic. The online calculations could help people avoid panic buying as we head into these next months.

Last spring sales of toilet paper shot up 845 percent nationwide over a two-day period after COVID-19 stay at home orders were issued in many states, according to the data collectors at NCSolutions. It was estimated the average American household ahd 500 percent more toilet paper than needed for a two-week quarantine period. That created shortages in many places and left some people scrambling for alternatives to toilet paper.

But there is no reason to panic or any need to clear the shelves. Just do the math.

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Julia Bayly is a reporter at the Bangor Daily News with a regular bi-weekly column. Julia has been a freelance travel writer/photographer since 2000.