A Walk Down History Lane: How Was Toilet Paper Invented?

A Walk Down History Lane: How Was Toilet Paper Invented?

It can’t be argued that toilet paper is considered a necessity in our modern society. We would think that it couldn’t become even more prevalent than it already is, but the COVID-19 pandemic has emphasised to Singaporeans the importance of better hygiene standards. Even with the introduction of other cleaning alternatives, tissue paper remains the go-to cleaning medium even compared to wet wipes. In fact, it wasn’t that long ago that people went into hysteria at the start of Circuit Breaker and toilet paper practically flew off the shelves. You wouldn’t see that for a product that no one needs.

But have you ever wondered what people did before toilet paper was invented? How did toilet paper become the most prominent wiping solution of modern-day society? Toilet paper actually has a long history that dates back to as early as the 6th century, and we’re ever so glad this product has become the reliable cleaning tool we use on a day-to-day basis.

What People Used Before Toilet Paper

Toilet paper became a more common sight in the 15th century. Before its invention, people primarily used whatever was readily available for personal hygiene, including hay, wood shavings, corn cobs, rocks, and even frayed anchor cables. Some cultures, especially those near oceans, also opted for seashells. Unfortunately, these available options definitely lacked when it comes to the comfortability department.

People started to look for other less-painful solutions like leaves, moss, rags, and animal furs. Wealthy people, on the other hand, utilised lace, wool, and other fabrics. Nonetheless, these options were still unhygienic, given the lack of proper cleaning methods. In Ancient Rome, particularly, a communal sponge placed on a stick was used and shared by everyone for their bathroom needs. Due to the lack of hygiene of these options, a disposable option needed to be invented. 

Introduction of Toilet Paper as a Wipe

The idea of toilet paper first surfaced in medieval China in the 6th century when a Chinese emperor utilised 2-foot by 3-foot paper sheets for bathroom duties. Cheap, efficient and comfortable. It fits all the criteria we require, and since then, paper has seen prevalent use as a wiping solution in China for the well to do.

By the early 14th century, particularly, toilet paper was already being manufactured by the Chinese at the rate of 10 million packages of 1,000 to 10,000 paper sheets every year. When the 15th century came, paper became even more widely available, so people started using newspapers as toilet paper. All these developments essentially paved the way for the creation of the modern toilet paper that everyone knows and uses nowadays. 

Mass Production of Toilet Paper

While the idea of toilet paper dates back to as early as the 6th century, the commercial production of it did not begin until the 1850s. In 1857, Joseph Gayetty of New York created the first commercially packaged toilet paper, marketed as a medical product that can prevent haemorrhoids.

However, Gayetty’s toilet paper did not become very successful because most people found it difficult to pay $12 for sheets of toilet paper when there were so many other free options available at the time. Nonetheless, the mass production of commercial toilet paper continued until it became a mainstream bathroom staple in the late 1800s onwards, especially as people began to understand the importance of hygiene. 

In 1890, toilet paper began being offered on a roll, thanks to the idea of Scott brand. By 1930, a “splinter-free” toilet paper was finally produced, and the rest is history. The 20th century basically marked a crucial era of toilet paper innovation.


Toilet paper indeed has a long and exciting history worth reading over. By knowing the history of how modern-day’s manufactured toilet rolls came into existence, you will learn to appreciate better the value of premium toilet paper roll in Singapore today. With its great functions and incredible benefits, it is hard to imagine a world where toilet paper does not exist. 

For the best toilet paper brand in Singapore that you can genuinely trust, Wype is the company you should know about. We provide high-quality toilet rolls at very competitive prices, so you can experience the luxury of premium toilet paper without burning a hole in your pocket. To make things more affordable for you, we also offer a subscription service that will address all your toilet tissue needs regularly. We may not have reinvented the wheel (or toilet paper in our case), but we definitely will improve on the existing formula to bring more benefits to households nationwide.

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