History of Toilet Paper

Welcome to this article that talks about the brief history of toilet paper. Before mass-produced toilet paper, people relied on different ways to wipe after going to the toilet. Nowadays, the continuous efforts of manufacturers have improved toilet paper. It is a fact that modern toilet paper has made toilet hygiene more comfortable and hygienic.

Toilet paper is considered a go-to toilet product, but most of us know little about it. By understanding the history behind the toilet paper as well as the process that is used to produce the different types of paper, you will be able to make the best purchase which will not only benefit your wallet, but your health, your plumbing system, and the environment as well.

Have you ever wondered how toilet paper was invented? How is it made? What do people use before the invention of toilet paper? Check out the rest of the article below for more information about the history of toilet paper.

What Did People Use Before Toilet Paper Was Invented?

In ancient times, the use of stones and natural materials, rinsing with water or snow, or using seashells and animal furs are the common tools for wiping. Before the invention of toilet paper, climate and local customs usually dictate how anal hygiene was carried out. Moreover, social hierarchy also has some impact when it comes to toilet habits. A wide variety of natural tools and materials are used to clean the bum after going to the toilet. Let us take a further look at these materials below.

In Ancient Rome

Sponges known as tersoriums are used in ancient Rome. The tersoriums are cleaned in a bucket of salt water or vinegar and are then reused. It would usually sit next to toilets and Romans would wipe themselves after they had finished with their business.

In Greco-Roman

Moss or leaves and pieces of ceramic known as pessoi are commonly used by Greco-Romans as a cleansing method. The pieces of pessoi may have originated as ostraca or broken bits of pottery that usually had the names of their enemies inscribed on them. This is considered a proverbial way to soil upon their enemies.

In China

Archaeologists discovered 2,000-year-old hygiene sticks known as chugi, salaka, and cechou in latrines at Xuanquanzhi. The instruments are cut from bamboo as well as other wood to look like spatulas. The ends of the instruments were wrapped in cloth and also contained traces of preserved fecal matter.

In the Middle Ages

The printing press was invented in 1440 which allow the mass production and distribution of printed materials. Because of this, paper products are abundant. Because toilet paper is not yet invented, the papers are usually ripped from the pages and used to wipe the bum. You can also check out this article titled, is toilet paper better than water? We have discussed the difference between using toilet paper and water and which one is the best method to use.

In the 19th Century

19th-century farmers live very far from the town which prompts them to be creative in the tools that they use for wiping their bums. The most popular method used by farmers to clean up after going to the toilet is the corncob. The corncob is rid of all kernels and used for wiping the bum. Throughout the 18th century, the corncob is a popular method that is used by farmers for wiping.

When Was Toilet Paper Invented?

The first recorded use of paper for cleansing is from 6th century medieval China. It was discovered in the texts of scholar Yen Chih-Thui. During the early 14th century, Chinese were manufacturing 10 million packages of 1,000 to 10,000 sheets of toilet paper every year. In 1393, perfumed paper sheets were manufactured for the imperial family of Hongwu Emperor.

The Modern Toilet Paper

New York-based entrepreneur Joseph Gayetty started selling the first commercially packaged toilet paper in 1857. He marketed it as the greatest necessity of the age. The medicated paper had been intended as a medical treatment to cure hemorrhoids and has a single sheet that is infused with aloe and. However, the sheets weren’t strong and it took more than two decades or so before toilet papers are available in rolls. Until the 20th century, 3-ply, ultra-soft toilet paper would not be realized.

Around 1890, brothers Clarence and Irvin Scott, began to produce toilet paper on a roll. Stores started selling toilet paper in packs of rolls in the 1930s. During 1970, toilet paper has become a necessary toilet product for Americans. Since then, manufacturers have continued to improve toilet paper. Nowadays, we have sustainable toilet paper options that are better for the environment. Check out this article titled, cultures that don’t use toilet paper. We have discussed which culture does not use toilet paper and why.

✅ Video – History of Toilet Paper

History of Stuff shared the video below on YouTube. It discusses the history of toilet paper. While we use toilet paper every day, we do not know much about it. Find out where it came from and who invented it by watching the video below.

Toilet Paper Facts

Do you know that toilet paper used to have splinters on them and that you could match them to the color of your towels? Below are interesting facts about toilet paper that you will be surprised to know.

Commercials Advertised It as Bathroom Tissue

While toilet paper is widely used in American homes, talking about it is considered impolite. Back then, magazines will not accept advertisements for toilet paper. TV commercials also referred to it as the bathroom tissue rather than toilet paper. We have also shared this article that discusses if toilet paper really cleans. Check out the article for more information about the topic.

Used to Have Splinters

Nowadays, we are enjoying the soft, smooth, and comfortable use of toilet paper. But that is not always the case. Toilet paper used to be coarse and rough. It was in 1935 that the brand Northern Tissue which is now Quilted Northern began to market splinter-free toilet paper.

You Could Match Toilet Paper to Your Towels

Colorful toilet paper was popular during the 1950s. Back then, bathrooms are being outfitted with color-coordinated tubs, sinks, and tiles, and toilets. In the 1980s, colorful toilet paper eventually fell out of favor when health officials started warning that the dyes used to produce colored toilet paper could have adverse effects on the skin and the environment.

It Was Used To Write a Novella

Japanese horror author Koji Suzuki released a nine-chapter story titled “Drop” In 2009. It was printed on continuous sheets of toilet paper.

A Roll of Gold Toilet Paper Was Sold for $1.3 Million

In 2013, an Australian company made a roll of 100% usable and safe three-ply toilet paper from 24-karat gold. It was inspired by solid-gold toilets in Dubai.

What is Toilet Paper Made Of?

Like most paper products, traditional toilet paper is made from trees. While toilet paper used to have a splinter in the past, modern toilet paper is now splinter-free and generally made from virgin or recycled pulp. Virgin pulp comes directly from a tree to make toilet paper. On the other hand, the recycled pulp comes from existing paper products. You can also check out this article that we have written titled, guide to using water instead of toilet paper. We have shared different methods on how to use water as an alternative to toilet paper.

How Toilet Paper is Made?

Modern toilet paper is either made from virgin pulp that comes from trees or from recycled pulp that comes from recycled paper products. Toilet paper companies make use of two individual manufacturing processes which depends on whether they are making virgin or recycled toilet paper.

From Virgin Pulp

A unique process is involved when creating toilet paper from virgin pulp. To make the virgin pulp, a tree is cut down. The bark of the tree is then removed and the wood is chipped into small pieces. These chips are then pressure cooked to produce a pulp. After that, the pulp is washed and bleached until it became colorless. The next process is to mix the pulp with water. After mixing, the pulp is strained, pressed, and dried to its final moisture level. When the pulp is totally dry, it is perforated and rolled into a long paper log. The last process involves cutting the log into smaller rolls and packaged for consumer use.

From Recycled Pulp

As compared to a virgin pulp, creating toilet paper from recycled pulp involves a different process. First, a load of recycled paper is dumped into a bin that is filled with warm water. Next, the water is aerated to get rid of any ink from the paper. Then, the recycled pulp is bleached and sanitized. The pulp is then pressed and dried on a large, flat surface. Once it is dried, the pulp is embossed to strengthen it. For making a two-ply roll, the mixture is feed through a machine that glues the sheets together. The last step is to use a circular saw to cut the rolls and to wrap them for individual sale. We have also shared this article that discusses if toilet paper really cleans. Check out the article for more information about the topic.


You have just learned about the history of toilet paper. Toilet paper has come a long way and still continues to improve through the years. Nowadays, toilet paper is readily available and has made toilet hygiene more convenient and comfortable. You can choose from a wide array of brands according to your preferences and needs. Thank you for reading!

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