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The History of Toilet Paper

Ever wonder what life was like before the invention of toilet paper? Curious to know what our ancestors used for bathroom hygiene? Read on to explore the surprisingly interesting history of toilet paper.

5 Toilet Paper Facts

Image of toilet paper on restroom wall.
August 26 is National Toilet Paper Day in the United States.
There is an annual toilet paper wedding dress contest where in contestants design and create wedding dresses exclusively made out of toilet paper, glue, tape, and needles and thread. No joke, many toilet paper dresses have actually been worn in weddings.
The world's largest toilet paper roll ever made was eight feet tall with a diameter of more than nine feet.
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station use toilet paper.
Most toilet paper is produced to be white, like Angel Soft® Classic White toilet paper, but scented toilet paper is becoming popular in the US.
The History of Toilet Paper:
Early Customs

Before the invention of toilet paper, people around the world used many different ways to take care of business in the bathroom. Ancient Greeks used stones and clay pieces while Romans wiped with sponges that were attached to the end of sticks. Other early methods included water, leaves, grass, one’s hands, and even corncobs! The first people to document their use of paper for toilet purposes were the ancient Chinese.

The History of Toilet Paper:
Modern Times

In the United States, a variety of readily available paper was used in outhouses before the invention of toilet paper. Joseph Gayetty is credited with being the first person to commercially produce toilet paper sheets in the nineteenth century. His toilet paper manufacturing business became a success despite Gayetty's insistence on printing his name on each large sheet. Soon, however, Gayetty's toilet paper business was surpassed by companies that sold toilet paper on rolls.

Angel Soft® and the History of Toilet Paper

This is when Angel Soft® became part of the modern history of toilet paper. Angel Soft® was first introduced to U.S. shoppers in 1987. Currently, Angel Soft® toilet paper products are available at most grocery stores and mass merchandise retail stores across the United States. Developments made throughout the history of toilet paper have led to the Angel Soft® toilet paper that we know and love.

Toilet Paper Timeline

  • Sixth Century AD
    • First documented use of paper as a personal hygiene tool in China
  • Fourteenth Century
    • First documented example of paper being mass-produced for toilet purposes in China
  • 1857
    • Joseph Gayetty begins selling "Gayetty's Medicated Paper" in large flat sheets with his name printed on each sheet
  • 1891
    • Inventor Seth Wheeler patents the toilet paper roll
  • 1890s
    • Toilet paper begins being sold on rolls instead of sheets
  • 1935
    • First advertisement for "splinter-free" toilet paper is published
  • 1964
  • Early 1990s
    • The United States Army uses toilet paper to camouflage their tanks in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War
  • 1996
    • President Bill Clinton passes a "toilet paper tax" of six cents per roll.
  • 2015
    • Angel Soft introduces Fresh Lavender scented toilet paper nationally

For more information about Angel Soft® and its place in the modern history of toilet paper, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to discover how real people handle challenges through softness and strength.