Before toilet paper was invented, people used a variety of materials to clean themselves after going to the bathroom. These included things like leaves, corn cobs, and even rocks! Can you imagine using a rock to wipe yourself?! Thankfully, we don’t have to anymore. Now we have soft, absorbent toilet paper that does the job much better.
Toilet paper as we know it today didn’t come into common use until the late 1800s. Prior to that, people used a variety of materials for cleansing after going to the bathroom. Depending on their culture and location, early humans used things like water, stones, sticks, leaves, grass, snow, corn cobs, and even their own hands. In some cultures, people still use water instead of toilet paper.
The first recorded use of toilet paper was in China in 1391. It was made of hemp or other plant fibers and was used by upper-class people. In 1596, an English writer called John Harington invented a flushable toilet (called the Ajax) for Queen Elizabeth I. His invention included a device that sprayed water to cleanse oneself after using the toilet.
The Roman era
The early Romans had a few different versions of toilet paper. One early version was a sponge on a stick that was kept in a jar of vinegar. The vinegar was used to clean the sponge and also helped to disinfect it. Another early version of toilet paper was a piece of cloth that was soaked in water and then wrung out. This cloth would be used to wipe the body after going to the bathroom. The last early version of toilet paper that was used by the Romans was a tool that resembled a modern day bidet. This tool would be filled with water and then used to clean oneself after going to the bathroom.
The Chinese era
Toilet paper as we know it today didn’t come into existence until the late 19th century. Before then, people used a variety of materials to clean up after going to the bathroom. In ancient China, one of the most popular methods was using strips of paper.
The first recorded use of toilet paper in China dates back to the 6th century. At that time, the Chinese Emperor Yang Guang ordered his subjects to use toilet paper after going to the bathroom. This early form of toilet paper was made from hemp, silk, or other soft fabrics.
Over time, the use of toilet paper became more widespread in China. By the 14th century, there were a number of different brands and types of toilet paper available for purchase. However, it wasn’t until 1857 that modern toilet paper was invented.
The Middle Ages
In the Middle Ages, people used a variety of things for cleansing before toilet paper was invented. Some people would use rags, while others would use leaves, grass, or even snow. People would also use their own hands to clean themselves. However, the most common method was to use water. People would either pour water over themselves or use a sponge soaked in water to clean themselves.
The Modern Era
In the early days of modern civilization, people used a variety of materials for personal hygiene including leaves, sticks, stones, rags, and even corn cobs. Out of all of these options, early toilet paper was probably the least effective and most uncomfortable.
Thankfully, over time toilet paper has evolved to become much softer and more absorbent. However, it wasn’t until the late 19th century that toilet paper as we know it today began to be mass produced.
The first patent for toilet paper on a roll was issued in 1857 to Joseph Gayetty of New York City. Gayetty’s Medicated Paper consisted of sheets impregnated with aloe vera intended to be wiped across the anus for cleanliness and medicinal purposes.