Who Invented Toilet Paper

Who Invented Toilet Paper: A Brief History of the Revolutionary Hygiene Product

Toilet paper is an essential part of our daily lives, but have you ever wondered about its origin? Who invented toilet paper, and how did it become such an integral part of our daily routine? In this article, we will take a closer look at the history of toilet paper, its evolution over the centuries, and the fascinating story behind its invention.

Ancient History of Toilet Paper

The inventor of modern toilet paper and the patent documents
The inventor of modern toilet paper and the patent documents

The use of toilet paper dates back to ancient China, where it was first recorded in the 6th century AD. The Chinese used soft paper made from mulberry trees to clean themselves after using the toilet. Similarly, the ancient Romans used a communal sponge on a stick, which was dipped in vinegar, to clean themselves.

In other parts of the world, people used different materials for their hygiene needs. For instance, in India, people used water and their left hand to clean themselves, while in medieval Europe, straw, hay, and even leaves were used.

Modern History of Toilet Paper

It wasn’t until the 19th century that the modern version of toilet paper was invented. In 1857, Joseph Gayetty, an American entrepreneur, introduced the first commercially available toilet paper called “Gayetty’s Medicated Paper.” The sheets were sold in packages of 500 and were infused with aloe vera to soothe irritated skin.

However, Gayetty’s toilet paper didn’t gain widespread popularity, and it wasn’t until 1879 that the first mass-produced toilet paper was introduced in the United States. The toilet paper was made from recycled paper and was coarser than the modern version we use today.

Over the years, toilet paper has become an indispensable part of our daily lives, and its production has evolved with advancements in technology. Today, the global toilet paper industry is worth billions of dollars, and there are countless brands and varieties of toilet paper available in the market.

Modern History of Toilet Paper (Continued)

With the rise of paper production in the 19th century, toilet paper production became more widespread. In the early 1900s, companies like Scott and Charmin began producing toilet paper on a larger scale, and by the 1920s, toilet paper had become a common household item in the United States.

During World War I and World War II, there were shortages of toilet paper due to the war effort. In response, the US government encouraged citizens to use alternative materials like corn cobs, newspapers, and even Sears catalogs.

The Invention of Modern Toilet Paper

The invention of modern toilet paper can be attributed to the work of two brothers, Clarence and E. Irvin Scott. In the early 20th century, the Scott brothers were running a successful paper company that produced tissue paper for facial use. They noticed that their customers were using their tissue paper as a substitute for toilet paper, which gave them the idea to create a specific toilet paper product.

The Scott brothers experimented with different materials and technologies to create the perfect toilet paper. They eventually settled on a soft, fluffy, and absorbent paper made from a blend of wood pulp and recycled paper. The paper was perforated and wound onto a roll, making it easy to use and store.

In 1891, the Scott brothers were granted a patent for their invention, and in 1902, they introduced their toilet paper product to the market. The product was an instant hit, and the Scott Paper Company became one of the largest producers of toilet paper in the world.

In conclusion, toilet paper has come a long way since its origins in ancient China. From the introduction of commercially available toilet paper in the mid-19th century to the modern, soft, and absorbent toilet paper we use today, the invention of toilet paper has revolutionized our hygiene practices. The story of who invented toilet paper is a fascinating one, and it highlights the importance of innovation and technology in our daily lives.

Toilet Paper Today

In modern times, the toilet paper industry has become a massive business, with millions of rolls produced and consumed worldwide. The global toilet paper market is worth over $30 billion, and it continues to grow every year. Many companies produce toilet paper, with a wide range of prices and qualities, from the cheapest one-ply rolls to the most luxurious, scented, and quilted varieties.

Unfortunately, toilet paper production has a significant impact on the environment. It requires a considerable amount of resources, including water, trees, and energy, and it generates a lot of waste. Additionally, the use of bleach and other chemicals in the manufacturing process can harm the environment and pollute waterways.

As a result, many people are looking for alternatives to traditional toilet paper. Some companies offer eco-friendly, recycled, or bamboo-based toilet paper, which is more sustainable, although it can be more expensive. Others are exploring the use of bidets, which are common in many parts of the world, to reduce toilet paper usage and waste.


In conclusion, toilet paper has come a long way from its humble origins in ancient China and Rome to become a ubiquitous and essential product in our daily lives. The invention of modern toilet paper has revolutionized hygiene and sanitation, making it more convenient and comfortable for people to take care of their personal needs.

While we may take toilet paper for granted, it is worth remembering the fascinating history behind it and the impact it has had on society. As we continue to use and produce toilet paper, we must also consider the environmental impact and explore sustainable alternatives to ensure a cleaner and healthier planet for future generations.

In terms of who invented toilet paper, while there were many early attempts, it was Joseph Gayetty who first marketed commercial toilet paper in the mid-19th century. His invention paved the way for the modern toilet paper industry, and his contribution to personal hygiene is still felt today.