When was toilet paper invented?

February 12, 2024
Wanneer is wc papier uitgevonden
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The history of toilet paper is a fascinating journey through time, full of surprising twists and innovations. From primitive methods to rolls with tear-off sheets, the evolution of toilet paper not only reflects our growing need for hygiene, but also our ongoing quest for comfort and sustainability.

The First Toilet Paper: Gayetty's Medicated Paper and the Nineteenth Century

The use of toilet paper has a long history that dates back to ancient times. Before modern toilet paper was invented, people used various materials to clean themselves after using the toilet. However, a turning point came in the nineteenth century with the introduction of 'Gayetty's Medicated Paper' by American businessman Joseph Gayetty in 1857. He claimed that the toilet paper had medicinal properties and considered it a crucial need of the time. Everyone was prudish, so he sold it as medicinal paper. It was sold in packs of 500 small loose sheets for 50 cents, but its success was limited due to the high price and old paper was free.

From 1890, the Scott Paper Company from Philadelphia started marketing toilet rolls by the Scott brothers, where the sheets are loosely wrapped around. This was more successful. The advent of indoor sewage contributed to more and more people wanting to use toilet paper. Hygiene became higher on the 'agenda'.

When was toilet paper invented

What did people use as toilet paper in the past?

In the past, people were creative in finding materials to clean themselves after using the toilet. Hay, grass, sponge, leaves, and even newspaper were often used to wipe their bottoms. In China, reused papers with readable texts were a common practice.

Toilet paper seems to have been a solution for the Chinese, as according to 14th-century documents, 10 million packs were made annually in Zhejiang province alone. The Chinese thus reused written paper to wipe their bottoms. In Japan, thin sticks called 'Chuugi' were used for cleaning after toilet use. These methods varied depending on availability and culture, but they only provided limited hygiene.

How did Romans wipe their bottoms?

In ancient Rome, people used an instrument called 'tersorium' to clean their rear ends. The tersorium was a sponge attached to a stick and was shared by toilet users.

This shows that even in an advanced society like ancient Rome, the Romans' hygiene practices were different from today. The availability of water played a crucial role, and sometimes other materials such as leaves, branches, moss, sheep's wool, grass or even snow were used.

What did people use as toilet paper in the past

Perforated Toilet Paper and Splinter-Free

The nineteenth century brought significant developments in the production of toilet paper. In 1879, the first toilet paper on a roll appeared, and by the end of the century, perforated toilet paper was introduced, making it easier to tear off sheet by sheet. Despite these advances, however, there was always the risk of painful wood splinters in the paper. A splinter in your sensitive parts is not a pleasant side effect. And who removes it?

In 1932, 'splinter-free toilet paper' was finally introduced to solve this problem. This improvement was a milestone in the history of toilet paper and provided more comfort and safety during use.

Newspaper and Other Alternatives

During the 18th century, the spread of newspapers as a news source began, and these newspapers were often reused as toilet paper. Free mail-order catalogs also became popular as toilet paper, but this changed when catalogs began using color printing, making the paper less absorbent.

The Invention of Toilet Paper and Seth Wheeler

The invention of toilet paper as we know it is thanks to the creativity of inventors in the nineteenth century. In 1891, technical journalist Seth Wheeler (inventor of toilet paper) applied for a patent for toilet paper. He introduced the idea of perforated rolls and drew a design where the end of the toilet paper officially had to be on the outside of the roll. This innovation laid the foundation for the modern toilet roll.

Toilet Paper in the 1940s

In 1942, two-ply toilet paper was developed in England. Another huge advancement for people who hated the accidents you can have when your fingers tear through the paper. Also important because research has shown that one in five men do not wash their hands after using the toilet. Very unhygienic indeed.

How should the toilet roll hang?

The question of how the toilet roll should hang, with the paper forward or backward, has caused discussions over the years. In 1891, Owen Wilsen applied for a patent for the toilet roll, where the end officially had to be on the outside of the toilet roll holder. However, according to others, hanging the toilet roll is a matter of personal preference and says something about your personality.

Bamboi and Environmentally Friendly Bamboo Toilet Paper

As the evolution of toilet paper continued, there was a growing concern about environmental friendliness. With this in mind, Bamboi toilet paper was created. Bamboi is toilet paper made from bamboo, known for its durability and environmentally friendly properties.

Bamboo grows quickly and requires less water than traditional wood pulp. The use of bamboo in toilet paper contributes to reducing deforestation and environmental damage. It is a conscious choice for consumers who strive for sustainable options in their daily life.

Environmentally friendly toilet paper


The journey of toilet paper began with primitive methods and evolved into the comfortable and perforated toilet paper we know today. While historical figures like Joseph Gayetty and Seth Wheeler contributed to its development, the modern trend is towards environmentally friendly options like bamboo toilet paper. Whether it's the choice of materials, production processes, or even the way the roll is hung, toilet paper remains an integral part of our daily lives.

Bamboi, our environmentally friendly bamboo toilet paper, symbolizes a necessary shift towards sustainable consumption. Bamboo not only provides an environmentally friendly alternative, but it also grows quickly, which helps reduce deforestation and excessive use of natural resources. We strive to make conscious choices that put less strain on the environment. Purchasing Bamboi toilet paper contributes to this.

As we look back on the history of toilet paper, we can not only appreciate the comfort it provides us, but also the ongoing innovation and adaptation to environmentally conscious standards. It remains a product that has stood the test of time, from the primitive toilet papers of ancient Rome to our modern environmentally friendly Bamboi bamboo toilet paper. It is a journey of comfort, hygiene, and environmental awareness that continues to unfold, and it is up to us as consumers to continue striving for a balance between convenience and sustainability in our choices. Want to contribute to saving our planet? Order your box of Bamboi toilet paper in the webshop.

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