Toilet paper is a type of tissue paper used to wipe the anus and surrounding anal region of feces after defecation and clean the perineal area and external genitalia of urine after urination or other body fluid releases. But what did people use before the invention of toilet paper?
Before toilet paper, humans utilized corn husks, sea sponges, and even a seashell-scraping technique after using the restroom.
The History of Toilet Paper
Although paper was invented in China in the second century BC, the first known use of paper for washing dates from the sixth century in medieval China, according to scholar Yen Chih-manuscripts. Thui’s
By the early 14th century, the Chinese produced 10 million packets of 1,000 to 10,000 toilet paper yearly. Thousands of fragrant paper sheets were also made for the Hongwu Emperor’s imperial household in 1393.
Although paper became commonly available in the 15th century, contemporary commercially available toilet paper did not appear in the Western world until 1857, when Joseph Gayetty of New York launched a Medicated Paper for the Water-Closet, sold in packages of 500 sheets for 50 cents. Americans improvised in ingenious ways before his goods hit the market.
Barry Kudrowitz, associate professor and director of product design at the University of Minnesota, has researched the history and use of toilet paper. Corncobs were a popular alternative to toilet paper in the 1700s. Then, in the early 18th century, newspapers and periodicals appeared.
The first perforated toilet paper rolls were introduced in 1890, and by 1930, toilet paper was finally created splinter free. Today, toilet paper in American households is softer, stronger, and more absorbent. (Source: History)
Using Dried Corn Cobs
The British had to get inventive with their personal hygiene choices when they arrived in colonial America. To begin, they used dry corn cobs as toilet paper. Then, as newspapers and catalogs were more widely available in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, many Americans began to use pages from the Farmers’ Almanac and the Sears, Roebuck, and Company catalog. Manufacturers frequently drilled holes in their papers’ corners so they could be hung and utilized in outhouses. (Source: Reader’s Digest)
Nature-like Toilet Paper
There is little known about how cavemen wiped their buttocks. However, it stands to reason that early people used whatever was available. Early humans preferred leaves, sticks, moss, sand, and water, depending on the surroundings. We had options like hay and maize husks after agriculture was created. People who lived on islands or along the coast scraped their food with shells. And those from colder climates utilized snow, which sounds oddly refreshing. (Source: Cottonelle)
Water Instead of Wiping
Toilet paper didn’t truly appear in Europe until the 16th century when legendary French writer Francois Rabelais complained about its effectiveness.
Rabelais may not have been a fan because bidets – a wash basin for your private parts – were popular then. It was stored next to your chamber pot in your bedroom and was regarded as an unavoidable second step in your toileting ritual.
Many cultures regard water as the greatest way to clean up after urinating. Wiping with your hand and then cleaning up with water was customary in portions of North Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. As a result, just the correct people shook hands. Shaking with the left was considered impolite or unclean. (Source: Cottonelle)