Ode to Toilet Paper: A History and Evolution


What is toilet paper made of?

The process of making toilet paper starts with tree pulp. The pulp is either sourced from trees or recycled materials and will be washed and mixed with bleach and water. The pulp is spread out into large sheets where paper factories will roll it out and cut it into perforated sheets to roll it and package (1). 

Ancient toilet paper history  

In ancient times, there were several creative uses for how people wiped their tooshies. 

  • Chinese: Credited as the first inventors of “toilet paper” utilizing paper to wipe in the 6th century 
  • Romans: Utilized a sponge on a stick that was that were often shared with others 
  • Greeks: Took pottery pieces to scrape the waste from the behind  

Modern toilet paper history 

Talking about bathroom habits and wiping has been taboo. The road to modern-day toilet paper had to convince people to pay for it rather than using free methods like paper from catalogs. 

  • 1857: James Gayetty creates a version that was made of hemp and aloe and decides to print his own name across the sheets 
  • 1890: The Scott brother’s rolled version of toilet paper sold in stores that were made of paper (2) 
  • 1928: Hoberg Paper Company, which eventually became the Charmin Paper Company introduced soft rolls (3)  

Other names for toilet paper 

Some of the top alternate names for toilet paper from Urban Thesaurus include (4): 

  • Loo paper
  • Poop mittens
  • Poop eraser
  • Dump tickets 
  • Ghost poop 
  • Mid-loaf crisis 
  • Fart wipe

Can I flush tissues and other non-toilet paper items? 

If you run out of toilet paper, things like baby wipes, paper towels, tissues, and flushable wipes are not recommended to flush down the toilet since it can cause blockages in pipes and lead to a seriously expensive plumber bill. Toilet paper is made to dissolve a lot quicker compared to other paper products so if it isn’t toilet paper, just don’t flush it (5). 

Toilet paper shortages

There have been times throughout history toilet paper has been a hot commodity. Georgia Pacific LLC, the maker of Angel Soft toilet paper, estimates that the average household uses 409 rolls in a year (6). In 1973 as the economy was seeing downturns in the stock market, consumers started to stockpile supplies. Johnny Carson made a joke that there was a shortage of toilet paper and consumers purchased toilet paper in droves (7). In 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic spread throughout the world, there was also a shortage in the supply chain as consumers stockpiled toilet paper and stores limited the amount that people could purchase as paper items were emptied from the shelves.

Keep your bums clean and thanks for learning more about toilet paper. Subscribe to our YouTube channel Woof of Mouth for other videos.  



    1. Kavilanz, Parija. (2020). Toilet paper makers: ‘What we are dealing with here is uncharted’. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/17/business/toilet-paper-supply-chain-coronavirus/index.html
    2. Toilet Paper History. (2020) History Of Toilet Paper. Retrieved from http://www.toiletpaperhistory.net/toilet-paper-history/history-of-toilet-paper/
    3. Charmin. (2020). Learn about the History of Toilet Paper. Retrieved from https://www.charmin.com/en-us/about-us/history-of-toilet-paper
    4. Urban Thesaurus. (2020). Slang for “toilet paper” (Related Terms). Retrieved from https://urbanthesaurus.org/synonyms/toilet%20paper
    5. Brown’s Heating, Plumbing, and Cooling. (2020). Can You Flush Kleenex Tissues Down The Toilet? What to NEVER Flush. Retrieved from https://www.brownshc.com/heating-and-cooling-tips/can-you-flush-kleenex-tissues-down-the-toilet/
    6. Weisholtz, Drew. (2020). Here’s how much toilet paper a family of 4 needs for 2 weeks. Retrieved from https://7news.com.au/lifestyle/health-wellbeing/heres-how-much-toilet-paper-a-family-of-4-needs-for-2-weeks-c-753915
    7. Priceonomics. (2014). The Great Toilet Paper Scare of 1973. Retrieved from https://priceonomics.com/the-great-toilet-paper-scare-of-1973/


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