an initiative of ACCORD
History of Hygiene
Graphs and Statistics

Toilet Paper

A brief history of…TOILET PAPER

1391: The first toilet paper? The first purpose-made toilet paper was produced in China for the Emperor's use. Each sheet was approximately 60 x 90 cm.

1857: The first factory-made toilet paper! "Gayetty’s Medicated Paper" was loose, flat, sheets of paper pre-moistened and treated with aloe. The inventor’s name was printed on every sheet.

1877: Roll toilet paper was marketed.

Question   How would you feel about…

Other toilet paper substitutes:

  • The left hand (many Muslim, Hindu and South East Asian cultures)
  • Stones or clods of earth (Islamic tradition)
  • Tundra moss in summer and handfuls of snow the rest of the year (Northern cultures)
  • Shells (coastal dwellers) including coconut shells (tropical dwellers)
  • Corn cobs or newspaper (USA)
  • Sponge attached to the end of a stick immersed in salt water, or, for the wealthy wool rater than sponge and rosewater rather than salt water (Ancient Rome)
  • Scraper (Europe Medieval and Middle Ages)
  • Old clothes (England)
  • Pages from a book (England)
  • Discarded wool (Viking Age, England)
  • Frayed end of an old anchor cable (sailing crews from Spain & Portugal)
  • Lace or hemp (French royalty)
  • Or, whatever was to hand, such as leaves and sticks, linen, hay and grass water!!

Today, in Australia, toilet paper comes in different thicknesses, with or without fragrance, and containing different quantities of recycled paper. Moistened wipes are also available.


useful stuff...

How Australian pandemics have changed! The 1919 Spanish Flu pandemic caused over 10,000 deaths in Australia,14 whereas the 2009-10 H1N1 pandemic ("Swine Flu") caused 191 deaths.15 English knights were required to bathe at least once in their lives - during the ritual of their knighthood ceremony. Because of this tradition, during the reign of King Henry IV there originated an order called "Knights of the Bath".16 The term "shampoo" came from Indian language and originally meant "massage".17 English society ladies held vacuuming parties after invention of the horse-drawn electric vacuum in 1901.18
Please contact us for more information

Design by IDENT